SB Nation New York
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @sbnationny
Like us to subscribe
How bad is the New York Mets’ financial situation? In an article to appear in Sports Illustrated later this week, the Daily News reports that the Mets owner told the magazine the team is “bleeding cash” and could lose $70 million dollars this season.
Wilpon also told the magazine he fears losing the team if he loses the lawsuit lawsuit filed by Irving Picard seeking $1 billion for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Considering this news, and Wilpon’s critical comments in the New Yorker about several of the team’s star player, it is hard to imagine all of this having a good ending for the Mets.
First, it is hard to imagine Wilpon not directing GM Sandy Alderson to try and sell off whatever expensive parts — like Carlos Beltran — other teams will be willing to take in an effort to save some cash.
Second, it seems increasingly hard to imagine that — even if a new minority owner is found — Wilpon will be able to keep control of the Mets.
There is never an uneventful day in Metsland. Even on a day off, the talk yet again isn't about the team's play on the field, but about comments -- from their owner no less -- that make them all the more the laughingstock of the National League, or baseball for that matter.
Upon hearing Fred Wilpon's comments about three of the team's marquee players, I immediately felt as if this team couldn't reach a lower low. To be playing almost-.500 baseball with the amount of injuries and collection of talent on this roster was a success by itself. Terry Collins has done a superb job with this team -- most notably, requiring maximum effort from all his players. This team has spunk, it has some heart and just over a quarter through the season, it hasn't been all that bad to watch.
Now let's make this clear: Wilpon's comments really weren't the focal point of The New Yorker magazine article by Jeffrey Toobin. This was an article written to outline Wilpon's path to basically being rich, owning the Mets, then seeing it all crumble before his eyes because of his involvement with Bernard Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. Twelve pages long, extremely well written and really telling of the Mets' ownership. It almost makes you feel sympathetic to what's gone on with this team.
What's interspersed, however, is snippits about the Mets' best players -- no commentary that's particularly complimentary. George Steinbrenner made a habit of being brutally honest about his discussion of his players, but ponied up the dollars to earn his championships, to back up what he said. I haven't even been alive to see a single Mets championship, but what I've been through is sheer disappointment.
Jose Reyes, based on these comments, is gone. Wilpon doesn't think he deserves Carl Crawford-type money. Just taking a quick look at their respective wins above replacement values, Crawford's currently sits at 33.7, Reyes' is 27.8. Add in the fact that Reyes plays a premium defensive position, a position where it's literally impossible to find impact talent, and despite the injury concerns (which I understand), he may well earn a contract in the neighborhood of seven years, $142 million. He's not-yet 28-years-old, he's a game changer when he's out there. Somebody will pay for his talent alone, even with the often fragile body.
Based alone on the "65 to 70 percent of what he was" comments, Carlos Beltran is also going to be packing his bags in a few months. Even though this is not ground-breaking news, Beltran is having one of his most impressive seasons (minus the speed) during a time when offensive numbers are down all over. Sure, his wobbyly knee is a huge concern, but he's shown he can still hit the baseball. I also don't necessarily think Beltran was way overpaid when he signed in New York. As David Schoenfield of the SweetSpot blog found, from 2001-2004, he was the 10th-best position player in the majors (according to Baseball-Reference). He also had several seasons where he was one of the best players in the NL ... but injuries have certainly made his contract look ridiculous at times.
The comment I have the most problems with is the one he made about David Wright. To say that the Mets' third baseman is not a superstar is sheer ludicrousness. Wright has become the face of the franchise, and while he's never replicated his 8.6-WAR season he had in 2007, he has never had a season below 3.5 -- and that was the first season in Citi Field, where is power disappeared. Wright hits, hits with power, takes walks and runs. He is not a great defender, but he's far from atrocious. His best attribute, to me, is his hard-working nature and good-guy personality. The Mets have had some downright tough years, but Wright has kept his head down, continued to work -- and was recently on-air saying he wants to be part of the solution in New York. Again, another position that's been devoid of real top offensive production in the past few years, Wright has been one of the best in the game. It's a shame that his owner would criticize someone who truly bleeds orange and blue. I'm not sure this means he will be traded for sure, but it's obvious that Mr. Wilpon has another definition of "superstar."
... I'd be OK with these critiques had the Wilpons put a winning product -- which includes everything from the general manager, coaches, personnel and draft decisions -- on the field. But the Mets and their ownership have been a disaster for most of my lifetime and their decision making has been at the forefront. Mr. Wilpon pays the bills, he signs off on the contracts ... and now he's criticizing his own players? Seems contradictory and uncalled for to me and proves that it's ownership that needs to go -- and not the players -- before real change is enacted in Queens.
New Yorker magazine writer Jeffrey Toobin joined 'Boomer & Carton' on WFAN Radio Monday morning to discuss Fred Wilpon's critical comments about Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright. Toobin wrote the piece in which Wilpon's remarks appeared.
"It was like sitting there with another Mets fan," Toobin said. "I wasn't terribly surprised by anything that he said because I think the views that he expressed are very common among Mets fans.
"Obviously he's the owner of the team so it was surprising coming from him."
Toobin admitted the genesis of the story was the involvement Bernard Madoff and the shaky status of the Mets' franchise.
"The heart of the story, the reason we were writing it and the reason they were cooperating is because the Mets are in a huge, huge crisis and it's all because of Madoff."
Toobin predicted that Wright will remain with the Mets and that they will try to re-sign Reyes but that "there is a big house-cleaning in the works. Beltran is on his way out."
Toobin said flatly that Wilpon will be forced to sell the Mets if they lose a lawsuit filed by a Madoff trustee seeking $1 billion in damages.
"It depends on the resolution of this lawsuit. If they lose this lawsuit they will have to sell the Mets.
"If this case is resolved with them having to pay a billion dollars they will have to sell the Mets."
Within a larger interview about the team, its players, and Bernie Madoff, Mets owner Fred Wilpon lets the words flow a little too freely:
Before you go calling WFAN to vent about how out of touch the Wilpons are with reality, please give Toobin's article a read. It paints a fair picture of an honest man trying to do right in his business endeavors and in the Mets' endeavors but lands himself in trouble due to misguided loyalties. Unfortunately, it also captures what feels like a terminal case of foot-in-mouth disease plaguing a Mets ownership that was oh-so-close to not antagonizing its fan base for a change.
More at Amazin' Avenue.
Today should be a great day to listen to sports talk radio in New York after Mets owner Fred Wilpon bluntly criticized several of the team's core players in a New Yorker magazine article. Shortstop Jose Reyes, third baseman David Wright and outfielder Carlos Beltran all were targets of Wilpon's pointed remarks.
Here are summaries of Wilpon's remarks.
"He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money. He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."
"Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
"We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was."
Wilpon apparently made these remarks while talking to New Yorker write Jeffrey Toobin while watching a game against the Houston Astros.
Toobin also has some responses from Bernard Madoff about Wilpon's knowledge of the Ponzi scheme that landed him in prison.
It seems like the New York started out to write about Wilpon, Madoff and the future of the Mets franchise. Wilpon seems to have offered these critiques unsolicited. Hard to know what to make of Wilpon going off on his own players like this. Stunning, actually, even if Wilpon's remarks are pretty much on target.
The 22-24 Mets have played better than expected to this point in the season. After this, though, you might have to think there could be a fire sale of Mets players at the trade deadline. In fact, it would be shocking if Beltran finishes the season with the team.
So much for the Mets having a quiet off day. Your thoughts, Mets fans?