Fred Wilpon and the Mets: In Charge, but Not in Control


Let’s address Fred Wilpon’s comments on the Mets stars, which are being quoted everywhere:

On David Wright: “He’s pressing. A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.” OK, dump on Wright while he’s in a terrible slump (batting just .226 so far). He’s a career .302 hitter, has averaged about 25 home runs and 20 stolen bases per season and has won two Gold Gloves at third base. Now, you may want to kvetch that he’s not a superstar, but can anyone deny he’s been a superb all-around player?

Jose Reyes: “He think he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. [Crawford signed a seven-year $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox this past winter.] He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it.” This shortstop who’s had “everything wrong” with him has been, at age 28, a three-time All-Star and very nearly the equal of Derek Jeter over the last six years. (He played only 36 games in 2009.)

This season, Reyes is hitting .310, 23 points above his career average, and though he’s been criticized for hitting just one home run, he’s had a league-leading 62 hits, including 14 doubles and six triples (also highest in the league ) with a not bad slugging percentage of .455.

Carlos Beltran: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one [postseason] series [2004 with the Houston Astros]. He’s 65-70 percent of what he was.” This, of course, has nothing to do with Beltran’s actual performance. As Jay Jaffe writes in Baseball Prospectus, “Never mind the fact that the 34 year old Beltran has hit .279/.367/.500 as a Met, better than his previous .284/.353/.490 career line, this while toiling in a pitcher-friendly environment to falling scoring levels. ‘He’s sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was,’ says the owner of a player who has returned from two injury-wracked years to hit .281/.380.530 … while playing in all but two games for a team that’s 22-23, right in line with preseason expectations despite a near-Biblical plague of injuries.”

When Mike Lupica is right, he’s right. In today’s Daily News, he leads with “Jeff Toobin, who wrote the big New Yorker piece on Fred Wilpon, called Wilpon a ‘stand-up guy’ yesterday. The problem is that Wilpon doesn’t have a leg to stand on these days.” And “It is completely fair … today that Reyes and other Mets who got their feelings hurt in the New Yorker have a right to wonder why somebody who has looked like a bad owner for a long time gets to point fingers.”

Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci also interview Wilpon. Here’s a sample:

“I am today the control person, not just because of my percentage, but I am the control person because Major League Baseball insists on one control person. I’m the control person. In 50 years I’ve never said to Saul [Katz, a partner] or my brother, ‘This is the way we’re doing it and that’s it.’ That’s not the way we operate. So I’m the control person. So what I said was, ‘I am not going to give up being the control person.'”

Okay, Fred, we get it. You’re the control person. Only you’re not in control, you’re merely in charge. If you had even a lick of baseball sense, you would have simply said, “These guys are great, but I just can’t afford them.” That would probably have boosted their sale or trade value. Instead, you’ve demoralized your players, your team, and your fans.