Fred Wilpon Throws Sandy Alderson Under the Bus
So now we have three stories from Fred Wilpon:
1. Letting Jose Reyes walk was a “baseball decision”
2. The reduced payroll was the result of cutting “underperforming assets”
3. Cutting payroll has nothing to do with the Mets’ financial troubles — it was all Sandy Alderson’s idea.
Hmm … so in other words, Sandy is the fall guy. Sandy is the one who decided that offering Jose Reyes a contract would be a bad idea. Sandy might even believe Reyes was one of those players who wasn’t fulfilling his contract, for all we know. Sandy is also the one who has tightened the purse-strings, and believes low payroll is the best plan for a NYC team. Yes, this cut in spending is all in the name of advancement: “spend less for success” may be emblazoned on a paperweight on Alderson’s desk, for all we know.
Right, said Fred.
At this point, I don’t know what to make of Fred Wilpon. His comments in the SI and New Yorker articles last spring were difficult to understand in terms of motivation. Many, though, gave him a pass, figuring he was just an old fogey who didn’t realize he was being fleeced by an over-enthusiastic journalist. But Wilpon’s more recent comments and actions leave little room for empathy.
I was going to write my feelings on this, but then realized that Mike Vaccaro already expressed pretty much what I — and many other Mets fans — are feeling. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I chose to re-post pieces of his story, in case you missed it:
Mets fans can appreciate a good sense of humor, even with times as dire as they are.
They don’t appreciate being made fools of, though.
“I’m OK,” Fred Wilpon said yesterday, upon greeting an assemblage of news media. “I’ve got fives!”
He pulled out a roll of $5 bills. Showed them to reporters.
If nothing else, the Mets should have the common sense and the common decency to realize their fans are not idiots, that if there are real financial concerns hanging like a millstone around the Wilpons’ necks — and no matter how much Fifth Avenue Freddie tries to spin it, every few minutes, it seems, another bill for another few million comes due — then it is particularly stupid to taunt their customers so blithely, and so blindly.
And here’s the thing: Fifth Avenue Freddie knows that you know. He no longer plays the part of the benign, avuncular, absent-minded professor, shrugging his shoulders and sloughing off questions about the way Mets fans perceive him. He knows. You’d better believe he knows.
“They shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,” Wilpon said. “Whether they’re happy about that or not, I don’t know.”
Yes, he does. Of course he does. He knows what the people back home think of him, and his family, and the way they have continuously misinformed the world about how deep their financial woes run. Remember when the Wilpons not only dismissed the notion the Madoff scandal would affect the Mets’ business, they also dismissed the very questions themselves?
That was $52 million worth of payroll ago.
“We weren’t being sued then,” Wilpon said.
Maybe not. But everything about the way the Mets were operating then was based upon Madoff and his funny money. At the least, the Mets knew that much, even if Fifth Avenue Freddie wants you to believe he’s been dumber than Mortimer Snerd through this whole process.
And here’s the pity: We should be allowed to feel bad for what’s become of Fred Wilpon. Basic human compassion should be at work here. And would be. But Wilpon continues to wave the Mets as a stick at fed-up fans. And now doesn’t mind sharing a giggle or three at their expense.
What a joke.
And not the funny kind.
That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Fred Wilpon has managed to turn himself into an unlikeable figure. I’m not sure that process is reversible.
What’s your feeling? Is Vaccaro being too hard on Fred? Do you have a different perspective? Air it out in the comments.
financial straits and the impact it has had on the team. Ask Fred
whether Madoff has had a roll in reducing payroll, and he cannot admit
that simple fact. Blame it on Alderson, Reyes’ injury history, say
money doesn’t buy you wins, etc. But they’ve been lying about the
impact Madoff has had on their finances for 4 years now.
Here’s my take on why: To admit that they are operating on the cheap
now would be to admit that all of their good fortune and riches were
because of Madoff, a fraud. Therefore, if the entire Wilpon empire
was created on the back of a Ponzi scheme, this would devalue Fred,
Saul, and Jeff’s “brilliance”, business “acumen”, and “visionary
talent”, and therefore internally and subconsciously they would have
to come to realize that what they are are a bunch of idiotic,
uneducated buffoons. In other words, Fred is no different from Jeff
but had the good fortune to meet Bernie Madoff as an adult. So if
they admit that Madoff was an ATM machine for them and that otherwise
they have would never have had sufficient liquid assets to operate a
ballclub, they are admitting that they were frauds and that the Wilpon
mismanagement of this franchise operationally from 2002-2012 is closer
to reality. In the high altitude air that they operate in at the MLB
table with geniuses like John Henry and Stuart Sternberg, or in the
environs of Greenwich and Locust Valley, this would be wholly
unacceptable to acknowledge.
This is different in my opinion from the Mark Madoff suicide, which to
me was an admission that operating with a net worth of $5M and the
stigmata of the name was a fate worse than death for him.
I want to be careful with what I say because I absolutely believe that the Wilpons historically have wanted for the Mets to be a top contending team.
Until Alderson arrived, it appeared that the Front Office was impatient and truly lacked baseball acumen. They were as reckless with their prospects as they were in doling out big dollars to undeserving free agents. I could not think of a better way to put a baseball organization in a bind than did the Mets since Nelson Doubleday’s departure.
My philosophy has always been that you build a baseball organization from the ground up, which may require that you exercise patience and take some lumps, and that you add as needed once your primary pieces are set.
We could go on and on, but impatience manifests itself in different ways whether from imprudent trades such as Kazmir for Zambrano, or throwing away tens of millions of dollars toward Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo. While the moves are different, the mindset is the same – that you can skip these steps necessary to compete annually at a high level.
Sandy Alderson’s commanding presence and superior baseball acumen has created a contrast that exposes the Wilpon’s ignorance. This contrast is exacerbated by Fred’s current public persona, he is being cavalier at a time when he should be most humble.
I think that’s all I have to say.
Fred and Co. are paying Sandy Alderson $3 mil a year to take those hits. Not bad work if you can find it. Vaccaro is a bit harsh but accurate. As a Met fan, I have been insulted by Fred and Jeff lying to us based on their “spin”. This preceeds the Madoff mess. When the Mets collapsed in 2007 and 2008, Jeffy promised the fan base they would play like a big market team, and they did partially by signing Santana. However, despite claims to an “open budget”, they had no pitching depth. If they had anything, they would have won the division 3 years in a row, perhaps a World Series, and things would be much different today. They could have done that with another million or two added to a $140+ million payroll, but chose not to. They gave away Billy Wagner to save $3 million, losing important draft picks. Cheap, regardless of “having a top 5 payroll”, Fred’s mantra. Now, Fred may be technically correct that the Madoff problem hasn’t effect payroll, since they haven’t had to payback anything yet, but anyone with a brain realizes that is baloney. Eric above is very accurate regarding their Madoff investing – Fred made money in real estate (unlike his son), but the Madoff connection propelled them from minority owner wealth to majority owner wealth, and now they refuse to give up that “power”, primarily because Jeff may have to get a real job, perhaps for the first time in his life. Oh well, I guess we can still root for the team from a distance, vent in the blogosphere and hope things change for the better.
Some focus on him around here like SA is the problem seems to suggest that if that is the idea, it is partially working, but Wilpon really should stay on the down low more. He’s ruining it.
all those years of never paying for draft picks, why didnt we pay a little extra instead of signing overpriced free agents…we stuck to the slot and now selig is gonna stick by the wilpons…we r f’d
but i think sandy has to let the team fade and get rid of pieces b4 he can really rebuild…i wish we had non guaranteed football contracts but we dont.
Of course we won’t get a straight answer from them when it turns out that “doing what they can” may not be enough. If they don’t have what it takes, that’s simply unacceptable to the fans, and admitting it won’t help their cause. If they do have what it takes, or they don’t know, then they get upset at the speculation. In either case, they get defensive and say some dumb stuff.
As Pelfrey pointed out, the Wilpons haven’t had the same media training players get. Maybe they ought to, for their own good.