Counterpoint: in indictment of the Mets’ owner Jeff Wilpon’s press event


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Mets’ owner Jeff Wilpon gamely – if not bravely – met with the media the other day to discuss the state of the team. The fact that he spoke at least semi-candidly about the team’s payroll is to be commended for the effort at transparency and a lot of what he said did make sense. But in the interest of full disclosure, we need to start with a basic premise: I don’t trust Jeff Wilpon as far as I could throw him. His is a classic case of someone who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. He came to be the Mets’ COO by dint of winning the DNA lottery. He was 17 years old when his father, Fred, bought a minority stake in the Mets, 23 when his father became an equal partner and 39 when his father became the principal owner. He was named COO shortly after that, having shown very little baseball acumen or PR savvy. One of his main tasks was to don a hardhat and take publicity photos in an under-construction Citi Field in 2007, looking nothing so much as like 1988 Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis driving a tank.

As time has gone on, Fred Wilpon has become the kindly pater familias of the team, with more and more responsibility going to Jeff. That’s only natural, in this nepotistic scenario, but it assumes that Wilpon The Younger is actually qualified to take over. The fear among the fan base is that Jeff Wilpon will be the captain of the New York Titanics, stoutly manning the helm as the great ship founders. It didn’t help when, in his remarks at that press event, he seemed to pass the buck on salary considerations. He said that he defers to the “baseball department” when it comes to salary offers to free agents and whatnot. Over here, this seems like, if he’s not throwing GM Sandy Alderson under the bus, he’s at least elbowing him off the curb. “Hey, look, I wanna spend as much as you guys do, but Sandy won’t let me!”

Look, we all know by now that it isn’t so much a matter of what you spend, but on whom you spend it. Need I remind everyone about when the team had a top-three payroll, lavishing big salary on the likes of Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Francisco Rodriguez? No, I didn’t think so. It’s been proven time and again that you can put together a winner on a shoestring, as long as you have actual talent on hand. We saw that, up close and painfully personally, when the Kansas City Royals played in a recent World Series which shall remain nameless. The trick is keeping it all that together as a sustainable unit – again, KC is an example at the moment, having the core of that World Series team all hit free agency at the same time. Heck, if the Mets are going to spend a lot of money, I’d rather it be in the scouting and development area, bringing in the best people, to borrow a phrase. But until that happens, if the Mets intend to contend every year in the meantime, the money is going to have to go to people not currently in the organization.

We don’t know if Jeff Wilpon has the stomach for that.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

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6 comments for “Counterpoint: in indictment of the Mets’ owner Jeff Wilpon’s press event

  1. Jon
    January 25, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Hey look Jeff can be a reckless fool, and will never not look ridiculous for some of the reasons you noted (to be fair to Jeff, you can’t choose your parents), but if you really examine the evidence it’s hard to conclude he’s not in a relative sense about a million times better than his dad ever was.

    I get that fans are dying to be offended but this interview doesn’t come close to painting the picture of ignorance and disdain for fans that any of Fred’s historic remarks might, and tbh little has happened under the “Jeff Regime” if you will, to suggest the club is fated to rise to Fred-level incompetence, except that which still influences. Maybe I’m just an optimist.

  2. TJ
    January 25, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Charlie,
    I agree that it is a good thing that Jeff spoke publicly, as it was better to hear from him than not.

    However, he should be given minimal credit for this. He essentially didn’t say anything that wasn’t already reported on, with the exception of shedding a little more light on the Wright insurance policy, and that their cost offset was likely lower than 75% of the full $20 million per season.

    He does not strike me as a compelling speaker, which is not a requirement but would surely improve fan relations if it were the case. I never expect them to declare a payroll budget figure, that would be dumb, but I would have given him more credit if he could simply explain why they are raising ticket prices coming off a 92 loss season, while projecting a possible payroll. Also, I didn’t see all the transcripts of his statements, but they have done some good things this off season, specifically securing the Syracuse AAA franchise for 2019, and nabbing a manager that is highly regarded in the business (from all reports) as a strong up and comer. He most certainly can point this out to the fans, and most reasonable ones will give him credit in those areas.

  3. Mike Walczak
    January 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Wilpon sprung the wallet again. They just resigned Jose Reyes. Awesome .320 batting average and 70 stolen bases. Oh, it’s not 2007 anymore ?

  4. January 25, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    About 10 years ago, I’m sure I would have used the word “peckerhead” to describe Jeff Wilpon.

    Yet I feel like he’s been at least a little humbled, some way or somehow. Could be nothing more than my imagination. Or maybe Sandy telling him he was a moron every day for seven years took its toll. Or maybe witnessing the Madoff thing took him down a few pegs.

    I see a guy a little more self aware of his limitations. I hope so and I guess we’ll see.

  5. John
    January 26, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I have been a Mets fan for fifty years. It gets harder to root for this team every year. Last year they dumped salary, and were going to put it back into the team, they haven’t. The window is starting to close on their pitching staff, there are prime free agents still to be had, as usual, the Wilpons sit still, while everyone gets away. The Brewers are making moves, while the big market Mets sign Jose Reyes! When he wins a batting title they let him walk, when he is 35, they sign him. Sell the team to owners who will invest in the team, go run one of your minor league teams, like you run the Mets. I hate to say it, I’ll stop watching or do the unthinkable and root for the Yankees. They don’t complain when another team signs a player, or trades for one of tbe best palaers in the game.

  6. MattyMets
    January 27, 2018 at 10:58 am

    That “baseball department” comment rubbed me the wrong way. I get that they own many other businesses but this was a Mets press conference, not a Wilpon family enterprises press conference.

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