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.