Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weasel of the Week: Fred Wilpon

Last month, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon was interviewed by The New Yorker for their current issue. At the time, the Mets weren't playing as well as they have been of late, but once the tabloid media got hold of the story, they had a field day.

Wilpon declared that All-Star 3rd baseman David Wright is "not a superstar", although the media has tried to treat him as such. Wright is presently on the disabled list with a back injury. Wilpon wasn't too kind to outfielder Carlos Beltran, who may be making a bid for Comeback Player of the Year, considering how well he's performed in the first two months of the season, adjusting to his new position in right field, and shortstop Jose Reyes, who could leave either via mid-season trade or as a free agent after the season is over. Wilpon believes that despite the stats Reyes is putting up now, he's not getting the same kind of money that Boston threw to outfielder Carl Crawford in the offseason, citing Reyes' injury history. Understandable, yes, but then you also consider the Mets' muddled financial picture.

The Mets have a potential minority partner in David Einstein, who was chosen by the team on Thursday. The influx of cash coming in from Einstein can be of help to the franchise, trying to resolve the crisis created by being fleeced by con artist Bernard Madoff, but exacerbated by greedy trustee Irving Picard, a previous Weasel. Because of the money crunch, the Mets don't believe they can retain Reyes beyond this season, even though he is putting up All-Star caliber numbers and is, like Wright, a fan favorite.

After the Wilpon interview was published, however, the Mets dropped 2 of 3 to the Chicago Cubs, then came home and lost the first two games to front-running Philadelphia before laying the smack down on the Phillies earlier today. Reyes led a 17-hit attack with 4, including 2 triples. And they want to trade him? Ri-freakin'-diculous! Wilpon, of course, had to defend his remarks in meeting with the team, because the last thing he wants to do is destroy morale in the clubhouse, which would only make things harder for manager Terry Collins, GM Sandy Alderson, and assistants Paul DiPodesta, JP Riccardi, & John Ricco.

The media thought Wilpon was trying to channel the spirit of the late George Steinbrenner, whose negative comments on certain Yankee players served as a form of reverse psychology that seemed to work more often than not. Instead, Wilpon's comments had no adverse affect whatsoever. As they say, Reyes has been unconscious at the plate of late. What has done the Mets in, especially against the Phillies, is a tendency for the bullpen to implode at the wrong time. Wilpon is lacking faith in his own organization to retain their star players, perhaps thinking that he can't roll against the tide of the team's history. Past ownership has made some bad decisions (trading Tom Seaver in 1977 comes to mind immediately), but Wilpon's worst decision was planting seeds of doubt, not in the players' minds, but in the fans. Hope you like the weasel ears poppin' on your head, Fred.

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