There was a time when I really liked Fred Wilpon. And in the last few years, as his popularity as Mets owner has waned, I still comforted myself with the fact that he was smart and had a passion for baseball and managing a baseball team despite what seemed like a dwindling sense of reality. But now it seems like he’s totally lost his mind.
In an article by Jeffrey Toobin for The New Yorker Wilpon appears to be a bit more forward than a savvy business man should be. Though the article is centers on the Bernard Madoff issue Wilpon is quoted in the article as making a frank and unflattering statements about his players.
I realize that ownership must have more critical views of their players than many of us fans do. In fact if the owners had the same view of the players that the fans do I don’t think we’d have much of a league to watch. As an owner you must be critical about your players. Fan favorites are fan favorites for a reason. But as an owner you must be able to look at that fan favorite, whose value to fans is obviously inflated, and break him down to what his true value is. In this article Wilpon has done just that.
Some of the things he says are best served for negotiations (on Jose Reyes: “He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.”). Others for front office talk (on David Wright: “A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”). Though self deprecating (on Carlos Beltran‘s contract: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series.”) he also commits what most people would call a mortal sin by publicly saying his own club a “S***ty team”.
I’m not the deepest thinker in the world but I’m no dummy. It’s already known that this is a rebuilding year (in fact a pre-rebuilding year) for the Mets. A year after which some big contracts will expire. A year that the front office is taking it’s time to decide the direction the club will take next year. In such a year the team cannot expect ticket sales to go so well. The fans already have very little incentive to go to games and then the owner comes out and says something like this.
When Wilpon’s connection to the Madoff scandal first became known I had said to many people that he should make the problem go away as soon as possible. There’s nothing to be gained by prolonged talk and negotiations. Since that time the Madoff trustees have inflated the amount of money they’re after and have come just short of accusing Wilpon of being an accessory to the ponzi scheme. The longer this goes on the worse the Wilpon family as well as the team looks. At this point I wish he’d either sell the team or do whatever needs to be done to make his part in the Madoff case disappear… or maybe both.