Employee Reviews: Met's Owner Gives Tough Review of His Team

Phil GardnerContributor IIIMay 24, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets talks on the phone during spring training at Tradition Field on February 17, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Mets owner Fred Wilpon gave an interview to Jeffery Toobin of the New Yorker. 

In a piece that seemed fashioned to try and draw sympathy for the financially beleaguered owner, it came out as anything but. 

In that one interview, he managed to alienate most of his players, as well as trash his former GM. 

Keep it classy, Fred. 

Welcome to the ranks of Josh Hamilton and Ozzie Guillen.

The specific comments were referring to how Jose Reyes would be looking for Carl Crawford type money, but “he’s had everything wrong with him” and “he won’t get it.” 

Referring to Beltran, it was “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series [his 2004 postseason with the Astros]. He’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was.” 

His comments on team leader David Wright were “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.” 

It seems that Ike Davis is the only player who Wilpon likes, calling him “Good hitter. Shitty team—good hitter.” 

Did you leave anything out, Fred?

That pretty much clears the air on the subject of whether or not the Mets will be buyers or sellers this season at the trade deadline. 

The Mets sit 6.5 games back in the division, but only 4.5 games back of the wild card.  They’ve been playing much better of late, winning 17 of their last 28 games. 

Despite being the Mets, and all the punchlines that go along with that, it’s conceivable that they could be within striking distance of the playoffs later this season. 

But when your owner makes comments like that to alienate players, he’s setting them up for a fire sale. It’s not the biggest surprise, seeing as how Wilpon is facing a billion dollar lawsuit, and adding payroll to the team wouldn’t be an option. 

Still, it’s sort of the nail in the coffin for any sort of hopes about competing later on.

The other issue with the comments is that it may have devalued their players. If you call out Reyes for being injured, and then try to hawk him to another GM, the asking price just got lower. 

Rather than calling attention to his injury past, he should have talked about how Reyes is back to being his old exciting self again, batting over .300 with 17 steals. Rather than call attention to the fact they overpaid for Beltran, Wilpon could have called attention to his .910 OPS and the fact he still had some monster years for them. 

The saving grace for the Mets is that this could still be sold as “heh, look at our crazy owner saying things he doesn’t really mean” and letting the GM deal with the contracts, but the perception is still there.

The biggest issue for Fred Wilpon will be going forward. 

He’s acknowledged errors in the design of Citi Field, and he’s called out most of his team.  He’s trashed on his former GM for signing Beltran (a deal which he approved and signs bi-monthly checks for) and he remarked that David Wright wasn’t a superstar. 

Whether these issues are true or not, they won’t add to the draw of trying to sign free agents and staff in the years ahead. If Omar Minaya is going to be trashed on for players getting injured, will a new GM want to jump into that fray? 

Will free agents want to come to Queens and play for an owner who will jump all over them? 

Sure, it worked for George Steinbrenner, but he also had the history and allure of the Yankees, along with the highest payroll in baseball year after year. 

Wilpon is desperately trying to sell a share of his team to make payroll.

I don’t see this working out well for Wilpon, but on the whole, I don’t think it changes much of anything. 

We knew he was in financial trouble and frustrated, we guessed that by the billion dollar lawsuit. 

We knew that Citi Field had some major problems. We knew the Mets would have a hard time competing this year and would try and sell players at the deadline. 

All this story changes is that Wilpon may go down best remembered for his desperate final moments as a Major League owner rather than as the respected owner he once was. 

Just toss him in the corner with Hamilton, Guillen and the rest of our ever growing list of loudmouths.