Solid First Half for New York Mets Is Not Good News for the Wilpons
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Everyone who is a baseball fan remembers the movie "Major League."
One of the funniest films of all time, there is a scene in the comedy where James Gammon, who played the manager of the Cleveland Indians, gets word that the club's owner is determined to trade every important contributor on the team with the hopes of clearing payroll and moving the franchise down to Miami.
Gammon relays this information to his players during a team meeting. The players sit there bummed for a minute, until Tom Berenger says, "then there is one thing left to do...win the whole (bleeping) thing."
As we all remember, the team that couldn't shoot straight used their owners disgust for the owner as motivation to play well and win the AL East in order to make it impossible for her to trade them all.
Sound familiar, doesn't it?
This is not to say that the Mets have a cardboard cutout of Fred Wilpon in the clubhouse the way the Indians did in the movie—that wouldn't be too pretty.
But, what remains to be seen is whether the Wilpons will be willing to commit to a team that they had zero plans of spending on this season.
Will the Wilpons keep this team intact for the rest of 2011?
The Mets are getting spirited if not surprising play from the likes of Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada, Angel Pagan and Dillon Gee, while their stars, as usual, are nursing injuries.
They have not looked like the 100 loss team that everyone feared entering spring training. The injection of youth, combined with the exceptional leadership of manager Terry Collins, has this team overachieving in a big way.
For the first time in years, this is a fun team to watch.
Who would have thought a team that lacked any real depth in the starting rotation and bullpen, lacked "superior minor league talent" and was expected to be in the cellular of the NL East could be this good?
Hey, it has been a wacky year in baseball. The Pirates and Nationals are also over .500 and in the thick of the playoff race, too. Even the Indians and Royals had shares of first in the AL Central earlier this year. So maybe we shouldn't be that surprised by the streaking Mets.
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They lurk in the depths of Citi Field, toiling around the chop shops across the street, clutching their prized Brooklyn Dodgers hats and kicking themselves that they don't have the money to buy the LA Dodgers.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon are the big losers if the Mets keep on winning.
The last thing the Wilpons ever wanted with this New York Mets team is to realize that they have to open up the checkbook and start paying these players, especially if the team remains successful this year.
While the financial addition of David Einhorn might help over the long term, with only 20 percent stake in the franchise, don't expect Einhorn to perform miracles for the Wilpons and help them retain these players. We all know that the buck stops with the Wilpons.
For the first time, the Mets have a legit league MVP candidate in Jose Reyes. Reyes leads the team with a .351 batting average, 22 doubles, 15 triples and 26 stolen bases. He has been a catalyst for this New York team all year long.
Reyes' ability to get on base and produce runs has energized a team that has a decent combination of veteran talent and young promising baseball players.
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But don't tell the Wilpons that keeping Reyes and Beltran on this team only helps the younger players believe in the system and in themselves. Veteran leadership, especially talented veteran leadership, does mean something.
Fred Wilpon himself said that Reyes isn't worth a mega deal and that he felt like a "schmuck" for signing Beltran when he crowed to the New Yorker Magazine in May.
Like in 2008, 2009 and 2010, for as bad as Met fans felt about this team over the course of those seasons, they seemingly always had a shot come July. And each summer, the Wilpons pulled the money off the table and said no when it came time to improving the team and charge toward a pennant in September and October.
Don't expect the Wilpons to open up the purse strings this month if the team happens to be in contention come July 31.
The team seems dead set on trading both Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez by the trade deadline.
Beltran is on his way out. This week alone, he has stated that he wants to play for a contender, and rumors have been rampant that the San Francisco Giants are a team very interested in the former centerfielder.
In fact, Beltran is expected to fly down to the All-Star game with the Giants, who will likely wine and dine him all week in hopes he waves a no trade clause in a couple weeks.
Then there is Reyes. Will they sign him, or won't they sign him?
With Reyes now on the DL, it's dubious that the Mets would dare try to trade him now. In fact, if the Mets hold him on the DL long enough, they could hope that it decreases his value enough that they sign him to much less than he is due. Remember we are dealing with the Wilpons here.
Betting against the market is what the Wilpons will likely do, and of course, they will lose if they do just that. Reyes will go elsewhere if the Mets offer him anything less than $100 million over six or seven years.
So buck up and be happy that the Mets have shown signs of life in 2011. But just remember that Fred Wilpon is the ONE who is steering this ship.
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