Tag: fred wilpon

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.

And counting.

“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.


The Mets: Seven Reasons to Stay Tuned in 2012

Happy New Year everyone! With the holidays now in the rear view mirror and me now settling down into my new job, it’s time to take look ahead to what 2012 might hold in store for the New York Mets.

Like most of us, I have very low expectations for the team this year. Team finances aside, the starting rotation is mediocre at best, there are several defensive liabilities in the projected starting eight, the bench is horrible, there is little speed on the current roster and they play in a tough division. Still, I will watch as many Mets games as I can this year. Now that I have a steady income again, I may even make the pilgrimage from my home in Bethlehem to Citi Field to take in a game or two. I know that there is no postseason in store for the Mets in 2012, but I can think of at least seven reasons to pay attention to the team this year:


Time To Let The Grown-Ups Do Their Job

NOTE: this is a guest post by Joe Spector. Please direct your comments to him.

There’s a false premise many Met fans have had since Sandy Alderson’s arrival. The idea that some Met fans have become Fred Wilpon’s de-facto personal budgeteers; primarily concerned with the man’s bottom line, as if it were “our” money over what’s best for the success of the team. It’s the typical all or nothing mentality that pits groups against groups and here in our case, Met fan versus Met fan. Why? I guess it’s


Mets Grab Geren – But Who is in Charge?

Big news in Flushing — the Mets have hired former Oakland Athletics manager Bob Geren to be their 2012 bench coach.

The hiring comes as a surprise, since Bud Selig / MLB generally ask that teams hold off on huge announcements at this time of year, so that focus does not waver from the excitement of the postseason. But those brash and defiant Mets — who once almost wore illegal hats in a baseball game — laughed off such policy and came out with the news anyway.

What? The hiring of Geren isn’t big news to you? Maybe because you’re still on the edge of your seat waiting to hear who the first-base coach will be. Or, maybe you’re more focused on whether the Mets will take advantage of their exclusive negotiating window and talk to the agent of a certain switch-hitting shortstop.

In all seriousness, I find the hiring of Geren interesting, in that it smacks of a Sandy Alderson move. Whether that’s good or bad is hard to measure — it all depends on your perspective, which we can argue in the comments. To set up the discussion, consider these factors:

1. Terry Collins‘ choice for bench coach was his good friend Jim Riggleman. So, you could look at this as Alderson making a power play — though, not necessarily as an ego thing. I’m sure that Alderson genuinely prefers Geren for valid reasons, but the point is that ultimately, the Mets hired Alderson’s guy and not Collins’ guy — even though Collins is the one who will work most closely with the new employee.

2. The hiring of Geren comes off the heels of Chip Hale‘s move to Oakland, and the firing of Ken Oberkfell. Both Obie and Hale were leftovers from the “previous regime”, and rather than promote from within, Alderson chose someone outside the organization. At the same time, though, Alderson DID promote Tim Teufel to third-base coach. Which brings me to the third consideration …

3. Was Bob Geren really Alderson’s hire, or was it Jeff Wilpon’s? Further, was the hiring of a bench coach given to Alderson because Jeff had dibs on the hiring of a third base coach? Teufel is a longtime friend and trusted soldier of the Wilpons, and as such this promotion could be interpreted as a personal reward as much as it was one for performance.

I know a lot of Mets fans would like to believe that Sandy Alderson holds the Mets future in his hands. Those of you who have that belief probably also think that Omar Minaya singlehandedly “destroyed” the organization. Maybe you’re right, but I have my own conspiracy theories, and would just like to point out little things here and there that could support my silly ideas (hey, with no Mets games going on, there’s a lot more time to dream up this stuff).

There have been rumblings from “those in the know” that Alderson is already growing tired of “arrangement” that looms above him — and by that I mean the owners’ exercising their right to have a say in what happens with their company. A year ago, ownership was in a precarious position: they were in financial straits, were coming off two consecutive poor seasons, and had the Irving Picard suit looming. They were down, and they needed help. In response, Bud Selig sent Alderson in to Flushing on a white horse carrying a sack of secret cash to help turn things around. A year later, things are looking just a bit brighter for Mets ownership. For one, the Picard suit looks like it will cost them almost a billion dollars less than they thought. Further, Alderson has and is continuing to slash payroll. And, ownership seems to feel confident they can pull in a few investors over the winter. Those three developments have made the future look a bit brighter, and perhaps injected the Wilpons with just a bit of chutzpah. Why is this important? Because if they feel as though they’re “in the clear”, Fred and Jeff Wilpon are likely to go right back to doing what they’ve always done — which is, run the Mets. Again, that’s their prerogative — it IS their company, after all. For those who forgot, the Mets have been the Wilpons’ company exclusively since 2002, when they purchased the other 50% of the franchise from Nelson Doubleday (ironically, with some help from their good buddy Selig’s accountant, who Doubleday felt was “cooking the books”).

The Mets record since the Wilpons took over complete ownership in 2002? 795-823, for a .491 winning percentage. In those ten seasons, the Mets won the NL East once, reaching the postseason once. They’ve been through 5 managers and 4 GMs in those 10 seasons.

What do you think about this hiring of Bob Geren? Is it a clue to the beginnings of a behind-the-scenes power struggle? Or am I off my rocker creating conspiracy theories for lack of better content? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments.


Sterling Filtered Madoff Funding

NOTE: pass on this article if you are tired of all the Madoff talk; we’ll return to baseball stories soon.

Yes, I’d really like to focus on the baseball stuff right now, being that the players are out on the field and running around in the sunshine of Florida.

Unfortunately, I for one cannot stick my head in the sand and ignore what’s happening with the Madoff situation — because it has already, and will continue to, affect the team on the field and ultimately our fan experience of the Mets (i.e., “consumers of the product on the field”).

So, while I won’t linger over small developments in the case, I will react when bombshells drop — such as the one reported by The New York Times yesterday.


Mets Made Money with Madoff ?

According to an article posted today by The Wall Street Journal, the trustee recovering money on behalf of victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud sued New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and his real-estate investment firm, Sterling Equities Associates.

From the article:

Sterling Equities and its partners are among the so-called “net winners” whom Mr. Picard claims withdrew more than they originally invested with Mr. Madoff.

In a court filing last year, Mr. Picard alleged a partnership associated with the baseball team, Mets LP, gained a net $48 million through its investments with Mr. Madoff.

The partnership deposited about $523 million over the years with Mr. Madoff, a longtime friend of Mr. Wilpon’s, and withdrew about $571 million, Mr. Picard said at the time.

So while many rumors circulated that the Wilpons lost a significant amount of money as a result of the Madoff scam, the truth could be the opposite — if these allegations are proven.

Though, I imagine it’s possible that some of Sterling Equities’ assets may have been frozen as a result of the investigation. If there are any financial types out there who can provide some insight, please do so in the comments.

For what it’s worth, Sterling Equities has issued a statement:

“Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, we want to emphasize that the New York Mets will have all the necessary financial and operational resources to fully compete and win,” Sterling Equities said. “That is our commitment to our fans and to New York.”

The Mets’ payroll for players is already nearing $140M, so I don’t think this news significantly affects the current state of affairs; it’s not as though the team was looking to spend far beyond the current budget.