Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Little More on Fred Wilpon

I don't want to get into the habit of doing this, but one of the reasons I decided to begin writing a blog was because of the long and passionate discussions I would have with other people about baseball. All writers have a healthy dose of narcissism flowing through their veins, and as I would make my points on e-mail threads, message boards or in local bars, I would wonder what people would think of my opinions if I gave them greater exposure.

I'm only getting about 20 to 30 hits a day at this site, but I love that my opinions are now heard by people outside my immediate circle of friends. I love that people sometimes disagree with me and can express a strong and reasoned viewpoint for why they do. I hammered Fred Wilpon at Flushing University this week, which inspired some chatter on the message boards. It gave me a chance to flesh out my arguments against the man a little more.

Fred Wilpon acts as though he's allergic to controversy and goes to enormous lengths to shield himself and the organization from it. I'm of the opinion that Wilpon actually cares more about image than he does about winning.

That's why the Mets don't generally go for "red-asses" or players who bring a flamboyant style to their game. Those who do are told to tone it down (Jose Reyes) or simply traded away (Lastings Milledge). That's why Buck Showalter or Wally Backman would never be hired to replace Randolph - Buck's opinions are too strong and Wally's "past" is too controversial. That's why Wilpon makes sure to stick to slot recommendations instead of signing the best available talent in the amateur draft - he doesn't want his team to make waves with the commissioner's office.

The Mets don't necessarily choose the best people for the job, and this goes for both the paying field and the front office. They go to the type of people that Wilpon is comfortable with. His son is the second-highest ranking person in the organization. That's just classic nepotism, and incredibly it is almost forgivable because I'm not sure what the hell else Jeff would do with his life if Daddy didn't sign the checks. The GM is a nice guy who has been in the organization for years and keeps his nose clean. He usually brings in the type of players that Wilpon likes - quiet, unassuming players who won't end up on Page 6 or get themselves suspended for chewing out an umpire. The manager is a quiet guy who shows little emotion, who was lucky to ever get a major league job in the first place considering the run of rejections he was having. A perfect fit for the Wilpons - Randolph is not someone who's going to challenge them or insist on a certain type of player that might make Fred uncomfortable.

Even the amount of money spent on the payroll is about maintaining image. Fred doesn't want to be seen as cheap, so he opens up the checkbook enough to sign splashy names while still ensuring healthy profits. I'm not foolish enough to say an owner should go into debt to finance a winner, but I'm willing to bet that if the Mets weren't rolling in cash right now the payroll would be low enough to still guarantee a minimum profit.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I expect more from Fred Wilpon. I expect him to bring in the best and most qualified people for every important job in the organization - from the COO down to the fifth outfielder. I expect him to do so without regard for his personal tastes in personalities and to be driven by one goal - winning. I don't believe Fred Wilpon has any intention of ever doing that.


Coop said...

This is a GREAT analysis of Wilpon and I wish someone would pick it up in the media so that Wilpon could see just how much we hate him. See, he doesn't believe the Mets have analytical yet passionate fans like us around who know what would make the team better. What's out there now is just plain ol' vanilla ice cream - it looks and tastes good, but is pretty boring without some sprinkles or a nice fudge topping. (yum) Case & point - Freddo hired Art Howe in one day after ONE interview. That's insane. Everyone knew he had a plug in lineup in Oakland - he was just horrible. But he was a guy Fred could get behind - a nice guy. Besides, I thought Fred was an old school Dodgers fan. It seems he forgets people like Hilda Chester and the Brooklyn Dodger Sym-Phonie band along with the colorful characters of the team. yeah those guys were hard nosed ballplayers who kept out of trouble but these were also guys making something like $15K a year for baseball, and having to get jobs in the winter. These teams are overpaid prima donna millionaires. Fred is lucky this team isn't worse than it is because, as we'd see, the attendance would be worse but hey, Cit is generating interest so there you go. But this has the opportunity to be as bad the Grant's Tombs days, That scares me. SELL THE METS! DO THE RIGHT THING!!

Judge Roughneck said...

Funny you make the vanilla ice cream comparison. At one point I specifically remember writing that "the Mets are a vanilla organization, top to bottom," to describe Wilpon's reticence to add flavor. (Flavor in this case being stronger personalities and more hard-nosed players, not hot fudge!)

I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say Wilpon should sell the team, but I agree with your premise that he doesn't have enough respect for the fan base to believe that we aren't distracted by his willingness to spend a lot of money. People can and will cop on to the fact that team after team of "nice guys" hasn't won anything in 22 years.

The last Mets team to win a championship has already achieved mythical status and will go down in history as one of the wildest, most hellacious outfits ever to brawl on a baseball field. People don't only love that team because they won - they love that team even more because of HOW they won. Fred Wilpon has lost sight of that.

Coop said...

right and keep in mind that it was the upper rungs of management who basically forced Cashen to trade Kevin Mitchell when it was perceived he was a "bad influence" in the clubhouse which could not be further from the truth - Doc was getting his "goods" from outside the organization and Darryl, well, he was just falling into the abyss that goes with drugs and alcohol. But certainly those two couldn't be traded - the fan base rioting would have been so treacherous that I think even if they were still a winning team the levels of attendance would be low like 70s. Trading Mitchell for hard nosed clean guy McReynolds (another vanilla guy with no sprinkles) only signaled that they were willing to win but only with good guys. I think Wilpon's connections to the Gils, Erskines, Furillos and Robinsons of the world are only making this team UNLIKEABLE. And I mean let's get real here, who actually thinks Omar has "full autonomy" when it comes to these decisions when trading Stings only REEKED of Wilpon interference. Don't pee on my leg and tell me its raining.