Tag: fred wilpon

Why Bobby Valentine Won’t Be the Next Mets Manager

Ever since Willie Randolph was fired — and probably even before — there has been a groundswell supporting the return of Bobby Valentine to Flushing as manager of the futiles.

As time goes on, the legend of Bobby spreads further and grows larger — to the point where many Mets fans have reached a point where any other choice for manager seems illogical.

Ah, how the passage of time clouds memories, heals wounds, and distorts reality.


Will the Sun Come Up On Monday?

According to various sources (first reported by Matt Pignataro on 7 Train to Shea), the Mets will announce that both manager Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya will be fired on Monday.

This in direct opposition to what Fred Wilpon insisted in early August. For those who forgot (or weren’t paying attention), from the NY Post:

… as Wilpon walked away, a Post reporter asked if Minaya would remain the team’s GM beyond this year.

“Is the sun going to come up tomorrow?” Wilpon answered.

Now I’m thinking, maybe it won’t. Perhaps the end of Daylight Savings Time has something to do with the sun not rising, and Wilpon firing Minaya.

If indeed Minaya is fired, and Wilpon believed what he said to that Post reporter, then the Mets are more inept at management evaluation than we ever imagined. Did something change between August 5th and October 5th? In other words, what happened in August and September that would change the Mets’ perception of Omar Minaya’s performance as a General Manager? Did they think that their mediocre MLB roster was good enough to compete with the Phillies and Braves, and simply underperforming? Or, did they think that Minaya would somehow, some way, find a half-dozen gems from the rubble of the waiver wire to rescue the season?

One might consider the fact that Wilpon was lying — that he had considered the possibility of relieving Minaya of his position, and was simply giving Omar a public vote of confidence to prevent a media nightmare of questions and rumors that might affect the final two months of the season.

You know what? That’s an even WORSE consideration — because it means that the Mets have been thinking about fixing their management issues for two months, and have done absolutely nothing. In the meantime, other teams in similarly terrible condition have made steps toward righting the ship. While the Mets sat on their hands wondering what they should do next, strong leadership candidates have found employment elsewhere. More importantly, the team floundered without direction nor meaning under a lame-duck manager and a lame-duck GM — both of whom had motivations other than the Mets’ future in mind.

While it’s true that Jerry Manuel played a number of youngsters in September, what good does that do for the next Mets manager and GM? Those men might have preferred to see Justin Turner at second base instead of Ruben Tejada. Maybe the new management doesn’t see Dillon Gee, Pat Misch, or Raul Valdes as candidates for next year’s pitching staff, and would’ve preferred to see other arms used in September starts.

Who knows, maybe the sun WILL come up today and Omar Minaya will still be the General Manager in 2011. Or maybe Fred Wilpon was lying — again.


Torture Times Thirteen

A few days ago, Fred Wilpon described this past offseason as:

“Torture,” Wilpon said. “Very, very difficult.”

I’m so glad that a Dodgers fan had similar feelings to mine during these past few months, even if were for different reasons. The Dodgers, of course, suffered a heartbreaking exit from the postseason last October. To get so close to the Fall Classic, only to fall just a hair short, can certainly weigh on a fan’s mind for months on end.

As a Mets fan, though, we’ve felt “torture” for a different reason. Well, make that, reasons.

Here’s my personal list of the Ten Top Reasons Mets Fans Feel Tortured:

1. Memories of the 2009 season was torture
2. Watching the Mets try to trade Luis Castillo rather than find quality pitching was torture
3. Thinking all winter about how bad the Mets will be in 2010 was torture
4. Listening to the inane comments of Jerry Manuel is torture
5. Envisioning Rod Barajas / Henry Blanco behind the plate and getting 600+ ABs is torture
6. Banking on Ollie Perez and John Maine as the #2 and #3 starters is torture
7. Wondering who #4 and #5 in the rotation will be is torture
8. Relying on Sean Green and/or some Japanese guy in the 8th inning is torture
9. Handing leads to K-rod in the 9th is torture
10. Seeing Daniel Murphy tripping over himself at first base is torture
11. Listening to people gush over Mets “prospects” is torture
12. Waiting to see J.J. Putz do well in Chicago is torture
13. Fearing that the Washington Nationals will finish ahead of the Mets is torture

I stopped at 13 only because compiling this list was torture in itself. It easily could have grown to 25 or more.

Feel free to add your own torturous thoughts in the comments.


Cheap Seats at Citi Field

cheap-seats-citiWith the economy in a tailspin, unemployment through the roof, and diehard fans unable to partake in their favorite pastime due to money woes, the New York Mets have made the gracious and humane gesture of lowering the price of some tickets by 15%.

Now, you negative Nellies out there will be quick to point out the losing season, uninspired play, and overall degraded “product on the field” as a good reason to offer a discount. The worst of you likely are saying the Mets have instituted this charitable deduction as a means to stimulate sluggish ticket sales. Well, the whole lot of you can go


Did Jeff Wilpon Play Pro Ball?

You may already know that I’m a former college baseball player and coach, and therefore geeky enough to have an appreciation for listening to an interview with Moby Benedict. For those unaware, Benedict was one of the most successful college coaches of all-time, leading the University of Michigan from 1963-1979. In those 17 years, no less than 25 of his players went on to play in MLB — a fairly stunning accomplishment. After his college coaching career, Moby spent three years coaching the Jamestown Expos in the NY-Penn League (from 1982-1984).

Considering that Moby played for Michigan in the mid-1950s and managed Jamestown in the early 1980s, one would think that he’d be familiar with Fred and Jeff Wilpon. After all, Fred was supposedly a “star” pitcher in high school and college, and Jeff played for the Jamestown Expos in 1983 … or did he?

According to the biography on the Sterling Equities website:

The exact same bio appears on the Brooklyn Cyclones official website.

However, if you listen to Moby Benedict tell the story, Jeff never played for Jamestown. Per the interview:

Q: “One of the players you managed while at Jamestown, but Jeff played with you in 1983 at the Jamestown Expos … what can you tell us about Jeff?”
A: “I don’t think he did … the years I was there, and I was there three years, and I don’t recall that he played. No. No — not for me.”

Moby is not a young guy, so you might think that his memory is failing him, or that Jeff was such a poor player that he didn’t leave much of an impression on Moby. Except, you would think that Moby Benedict would remember the son of Fred Wilpon playing for him — even if it were for only five minutes. After all, Fred and Moby were teammates at the University of Michigan, and Fred was extremely helpful to Moby’s baseball program. Indeed, Benedict later mentioned, in regard to Fred Wilpon:

“… he was there at the same time as I was … in fact, I know him well — we were pretty good friends … he gave us a lot of money to re-do our baseball field … he was very, very, very generous … it’s called the Wilpon Baseball Complex … it’s really beautiful … he was very generous, and a very kind man.”

Benedict also clearly remembered that Fred came down with a sore arm while at Michigan, and therefore never pitched for them.

You can listen to the interview here (the Wilpon discussion comes in around the 3-minute mark):

Still, maybe Moby, for whatever reason, forgot that Jeff Wilpon played for him. But there doesn’t seem to be any information, anywhere, that supports the claim that Jeff played pro ball. For example, if you go to the Jeff Wilpon page on TheBaseball Cube.com, there are no stats listed. Neither is Wilpon’s name listed on the 1983 Jamestown Expos page. Baseball-Reference.com reports the same non-info on Jeff Wilpon (nothing for ’82, ’84, either).

Of course, neither of those websites can be considered “official” — so it’s possible that both of those sites have mis-reported the facts and that Moby Benedict mis-remembered his time in Jamestown.

Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but this information is bothersome to say the least. If it’s true that Jeff Wilpon never played pro ball, why does his bio claim that he did? Why would the COO of a billion-dollar company have to lie on his public resume? And what else is he, the Mets, and Sterling Equities lying about?

And for the record, I have never lobbied for the job of COO of the New York Mets. I’m not looking to tear anyone down, either — only in search of the truth.

** UPDATE **

An alert MetsToday reader pointed me to a Murray Chass article from the September 14, 2004 edition of The New York Times, which includes this tidbit:

Wilpon is the son of Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ owner. Like his father, Jeff was a baseball player as a youngster but didn’t go far. In 1983, at the request of and as a favor to Fred Wilpon, the Montreal Expos drafted Jeff, a catcher. He joined Jamestown of the New York-Penn League but apparently never played before he was released a week or so later. Jeff Wilpon’s name does not appear in the team’s statistics for that season.

So this is old news that has yet to be addressed. Or does being a bullpen catcher count as “playing”?


The More Things Change

… the more they stay the same. That’s the saying, right?

If you saw this printed somewhere today, I bet following snippet would not be surprising:

This ship has been off course for three seasons, not because of a lack of resources, but because of a lack of judgment. The Mets began the year with a payroll … which is second only to the Yankees’ … They have nothing to show for it but a clubhouse of aging stars with big names, big contracts and big injuries.

(the GM) sold Wilpon on the notion that you had to win with big names in New York, that the fans weren’t patient enough to wait for rebuilding, that you had to do it now. Forget the farm system.

But Wilpon apparently came to the conclusion that the Mets’ salvation was not exclusively found in high-priced stars. Yesterday, he made an intriguing observation. He said he knows now that a hefty payroll does not ensure success. ”We’ve learned that painfully.”

More than once yesterday he said, ”We’re going to get younger and more athletic.”

But you might be mildly surprised to find out that the above was published on June 13, 2003 in The New York Times.

If you don’t remember, these were the words printed when GM Steve Phillips was fired. Jim Duquette replaced him on an interim, and then “permanent” basis, and within a year Scott Kazmir was traded for Victor Zambrano and Ty Wigginton for Kris Benson so that the Mets could “play meaningful games in September”. Not long after that meaningless September, Omar Minaya was hired to right the ship.

Speaking of, does this sound familiar? (from the September 29, 2004 edition of The New York Times):

It is difficult to determine the impact of any Mets general manager because the team’s power structure so often appears split. Although major league executives generally believe the best way to run a team is to let the general manager make the most important decisions and then receive clearance from ownership, the Mets rely on committees to hash out strategy, usually soliciting a wide range of opinions.

Jeff Wilpon directs the day-to-day operation of the club, the superscouts Al Goldis and Bill Livesey have input, and veteran players and coaches sometimes offer opinions, too. Minaya knows from experience what he is getting into. Having emigrated with his family from the Dominican Republic to Queens as a child, he became an assistant general manager for the Mets in 1997 and became a senior assistant general manager one year later.

I.e.: the “collegial organization” that Steve Phillips referred to recently.

Minaya hired manager Willie Randolph in part because of Randolph’s excellent reputation for working with youngsters such as Alfonso Soriano. You see, the Mets were going to build a pennant contender through their farm system and around their youth — David Wright and Jose Reyes. That idea went out the window a year later, when Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran were signed to obnoxious contracts.

Today, Joel Sherman touched on this subject as well — and interestingly, holds “conspiracy theories” similar to the ones we’ve been drumming up here for a while:

In the past week, Minaya proclaimed the Mets “buyers” in the trade market at a moment when they were six games under .500, fourth in the NL East, and tied for eighth in the wild card, 7 ½ back. Good tickets still available at Citi Field in case you are interested.

and …

The Wilpons’ 1-2 strategy was to make sure the criticism was deflected away from them — because ownership can talk accountability, but it really is not great at accepting it — while beginning the process of convincing fans that the following season would be different. Translation: What do we have to do to begin motivating you to start buying tickets again? So Art Howe was fired as manager and Jim Duquette was demoted from general manager to go sit in the corner. A good leaking campaign ensued blaming that duo for everything short of the Hindenburg going down. You were supposed to be distracted from remembering that the Wilpons hired the people who messed up.

Sherman goes on to predict that the Mets will “…try to recruit a big-name general manager with the idea of convincing fans that different leadership would know properly how to surround a talented base of Santana, K-Rod, Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes with better supplementary players” and, failing at that, hire Tony LaRussa as manager, who “… would bring along his trusted pitching coach Dave Duncan, with the idea being that they always seem to get the most out of whatever talent is put in front of them”.

It’s not that far-fetched a theory, and it fits the pattern that the Wilpons have been following for over a decade. The names may change, but the story remains the same.