Tag Archive for Fred Wilpon

Chief Brodie

From where I sit, hiring the least experienced candidate they possibly could and putting Omar Minaya a heartbeat away is a mixed message at best for our Mets. We know Omar for all his scouting smarts is an analytical illiterate and closely aligned with Fred Wilpon, typically the root of all dysfunction that accompanies the club including this last coup. Meanwhile it looks as though the ties to the maligned Alderson Administration are to be cut completely, with John Ricco and JP Ricciardi evidently afterthoughts.

Ready for action

As for Brodie, who the hell knows. Putting aside the awkwardness of now lording over talent he once represented in opposition to the brass and the accompanying conflicts-of-interest that entails, it’s hard to guess how he’ll actually address the club’s weaknesses. Though this smells a lot like the first Omar Takeover, where the club will let go of their typically tight grip on salaries so as to make a show of their new willingness to compete, probably by doing something moronic like signing the most expensive relief pitcher out there, or maybe by tearing apart the farm system built by predecessors in a daring trade.

So I’m predicting a newsy offseason likely to result in a few inarguable “on-paper” improvements but I’m going to wait and see whether they actually represent the mix of creativity, boldness and strategic forethought that actual successful organizations employ. It’s not going to be easy even for a smart group.

Were it up me, I’d see what it would take to make Manny Machado the third baseman, which would come with the bonus of forcing Todd Frazier to another club. The Mets may also have a decision to make on the order of Duda-Davis, choosing between the promising but thus-far inconsistent Dom Smith and the promising but older and less-sound defensive player Peter Alonso, which is not as easy as it might look, as both guys could tank. First basemen need to hit.

My secret weapon? See what it takes to get one more really good starting pitcher in the style of the 90s Braves adding Greg Maddux to the Glavine-Smoltz-Avery core. If it turns Steven Matz into trade bait, or the lefthanded reliever we apparently need, so much the better.

You can count on the Mets making a show of acquiring relief pitchers anyhow, as dubious a strategy as I suspect it is (the way to prevent losing close games is to score more runs, and not necessarily count on the other team to fail at the same), but were they to acquire Brooklyn’s own Adam Ottavino to bolster what they’ve got I won’t mind, and if you’re going to select a “proven closer” it may as well be Jeurys Familia.

Roster moves thus far are marking the end of the line for Phillip Evans (28); Rafael Montero (50); Jack Reinheimer (72); and Jamie Callahan (43). Major league free agents are Jerry Blevins (39); AJ Ramos (44); Jose Lobaton (59); Devin Mesoraco (29); Jose Reyes (7) and Austin Jackson (16). I could see Jackson back as a reserve outfielder if nothing else, and I figure they might consider Mesoraco and Ramos.

Props to Mark Healey for the headline/nickname which I’m totally adopting.

 

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Front Office Fred-anigans

Well here we are days or even hours away from a new leader in Metland and the team can’t decide whether they need a grandfatherly caretaker, an egghead disruptor, or an agent fluent in corporate buzzspeak.

But that’s the Mets all over. And it’s not just that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t know why they don’t know, and so whomever they ultimately wind up hiring they’ll have hired for all the wrong reasons. I’ve said here many times and in many ways but the Mets don’t solve problems, they make a show of trying to look as though they do. And the problems they try and solve are almost entirely of their own making, because they’re so incompetent.

Take for example the case for Bob Melvin cited in the Snooze article linked above. If the Mets decide what they need is a people-manager who’ll put out infighting it’s only because Fred assured that outcome when he went behind his GM’s back to secure himself a right-hand man in Omar Minaya and the manager he tried to depose as special assistants. Of course it had bad results.

Or if you believe the Mets are analytically illiterate and in need of Yale grad like Chaim Bloom, that’s probably because they haven’t sprung for a staff in the first place, despite having one of the best minds in the game in charge. Jeff’s remark that it was Sandy Alderson who insisted upon the lack of front-office brainpower has got to be one of the cheapest shots he’s ever taken, but hiring an “analytics guy” would be the best defense against that charge, so there’s your case for Bloom.

I don’t know a whole lot about how an agent like Brodie Van Wagenen got this far, but you can guess from the Mets’ point of view it’s an end-around on a renegotiation of the Cespedes contract, and on the brighter side, an avenue to keeping deGrom locked up. Perhaps then the message they’d send with this hire is that they’re getting smart on money finally after being rich-dumb and poor-dumb.

I’ve gotten really cynical, you might say.

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Better Dead than Fred

Hi again.

I don’t need to tell you things have been so quiet in Metville that the organization must be up to no good again. Sure enough some reports indicate a sinister take on the recent front-office announcements that have me worried beyond the fact they’ve done so little this year to address the on-field product.

So there you go. I don’t doubt Omar’s baseball smarts, even if he was an awful General Manager for the club: He got pushed around by underlings, destroyed in trades, too often proved too generous in contract negotiations, hired two bad managers, and frequently embarrassed the organization at the podium. A job behind the scenes, and not in front of them, is the right role for him.

So what’s the worry? Well, it would appear as though his hiring came as something of a favor to Fred Wilpon, who at age 81 ought to be over this kind of meddling, but this kind of stuff is seemingly always happening. You can draw a dotted line directly to Fred to just about every stupid move and setback this team has faced since Jeff Torborg. He’s unaccountable; he’s incompetent but doesn’t think so; and the organization under Fred frequently develops these indirect channels of command that lead to conflicting circles of influence. Stapling Omar Minaya to the back of a new contract for Sandy against the wishes of the rest of the front office just stinks. Just as Fred undermined Jim Duquette’s influence 13 years ago.

I’m not one of these angry suffering dipshits who believe a team should do everything they wish but the idea that the club is united in trying to win ought to be the right of every fan. What we get with the Mets, all too often, is the image of a club that’s trying to benefit conflicting points of view encouraged by one unaccountable and very stupid owner. It’s really hard to root for this.

As for the personnel, there’s been more departures than arrivals lately. Let’s all say goodbye to Erik Goeddel, who wore No. 62 for parts of four seasons and at times looked capable but was frequently injured. My lasting memory of Geody was a terrible appearance protecting a 9-run, 9th-inning lead in Game 3 of the NLDS and forcing Terry to go to Jeurys Familia, who’d prove in the coming weeks he’d need rest. Goeddel signed a minor league deal with Texas.

Also officially a former Met is Travis Taijeron, who signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. This is no tragedy given Taijeron’s awful play in the outfield and power that didn’t appear to come with him from Triple A. And Tommy Milone, who in my mind ought to go down as the owner of the poorest toughness-to-tattoos ratio in Mets history, signed with Washington. It’s always a tragedy to see guys unable to cash in a golden opportunity to rejuvenate their careers. I know it’s not easy. Their departures open up Nos. 28 and 29.

On their way is Anthony Swarzak, the only addition made at the Winter Meetings that helped fuel the restlessness among fans and the void of activity that often leads to the crap I was discussing above. I still haven’t heard if Swarzy has been issued a number yet. He’s worn five of them so far in his career but two of them — 37 and 41 — are unavailable at the present time.

Also new to the org will be Jose Lobaton, an 8-year veteran catcher who presumably will push d’Arnaud and Plawecki and catch spring training games. Lobaton has worn the bullpen-catchery number 59 with both the Nats and Rays in his career. That’s available here now that Fernando Salas has gone away.

Chubby lefty reliever Josh Edgin has also departed, to Baltimore on a minor league deal. Edgin dates back to the first Omar era, and hung around the organization for six years as the team’s first and only No. 66.

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Snakebitten, Baby

48Unless you had the good sense to turn in early last early night you know nothing so sums up what the 2016 season has become than last night’s events in San Francisco, when a shocking Met hit with men on base — from Justin Ruggiano of all people, off Madison Friggin Bumgarner of all people, a grand slam to center field, of all things — was given all back and more within minutes — by Jacob deGrom of all people, on a two-run homer by Bumgarner of all people, in a 10-7 loss showing the Mets are practically determined to go wrong even when everything is arranged to go right.

52So don’t get too excited to learn tonight’s contest is expected to include the return of injured soldiers Yoenis Cespedes and Asbrubal Cabrera, and maybe even Neil Walker, because it also accompanies news that scheduled starting pitcher Steven Matz won’t be there, because, naturally, he’s being shut down with shoulder trouble.

When Fred Wilpon idiotically pitied his half-assededly assembled 2011 squad by remarking, “We’re snakebitten, baby,” he was off by five years.

I’m not officially giving up yet — I need something to pretend to root for when I fly my family to St. Louis next week just to see these guys — but it’s clear this edition of the Mets is going to require not just something miraculous, but something it hasn’t satisfactorily demonstrated any ability to do all year: Play well.

66Is there good news? Well, Josh Edgin is getting sent back to the minor leagues where he belongs after that shitshow in Phoenix the other night — again, if you turned in early, he not only walked the whole lineup but evidently was too fat to bother hustling in to retrieve his own wild pitch for a potential play at the plate. In his place is Josh Smoker, who will need a new uni assignment after the 49 he wore in a phantom appearance a few weeks back was taken back by Jon Niese, who like Edgin but hopefully not like Smoker, appears to be a lefty of limited value any longer.

How about we give Smokey 66? That’ll teach ’em. Not Joshin’.

UPDATE: He’s in 59. Naturally.

 

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Upping the Josh Factor

47Hi guys, I’m back from a little R&R, moving aside the worthless sandbags at my door, and catching up to the new arrivals in Metland. We’ll begin late last month when Jon Niese pitched his way onto the disabled list and once again recalled Mike Nickeas, the catcher who wears 13. This struggle to reach the finish line is becoming an annual phenomenon for Niese, who until a few weeks ago, looked like the best starting pitcher the team had. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, who started poorly before coming on, went to the DL himself on Aug. 26. He was replaced on the roster by Miguel Batista, the 40-year-old journeyman whom I remember best from the Diamondbacks’ blessed 2001 Yankee-beating World Series team but has also played for a half-dozen other clubs including the Cardinals, who released him earlier this year. Batista made his Los Mets debut last night wearing No. 47.That jersey last belonged to flukey lefty Hisanori Takahashi, now of the Angels. Finally, Jose Reyes returned to the roster and Mike Baxter was demoted.

When rosters officially expended Thursday, the Mets recalled two new Joshes: Right-handed masher Josh Satin of AAA Buffalo and righty reliever Josh Stinson of AA Binghamton. Satin, like a glut of utility infielders before him, was assigned No. 3. Stinson is a big dude who might provide some relief: He was assigned Elmer Dessens’s old No. 64. Where have you gone, Elmer? Along with Josh Thole, this provides the Mets an unprecedented number of Joshes — who all went by “Jose” during the Hispanic Heritage game last night, I think.

Even though the ridiculous “Los” results in a jersey that makes no sense in two languages, count me enamored of the blue jerseys, particularly if and when it replaces the hideous black look. The black remains depressing, ugly and impossibly dated already. And I’m happy to discover that creepy Einhorn kid won’t be partnering with the Wilpons. Not because I think he wouldn’t do a better job as a minority owner (who wouldn’t?) but that the deal’s demise increases the chances the Wilpons lose it all in Chapter 11.

Finally, the Mets received the booty from the Francisco Rodriguez trade with Milwaukee. Coming our way is a 5-foot-6 lefty, Danny Herrera, expected to join the Mets today in Washington. Herrera struggled with Milwaukee this year (and in Cincinnati before that) but was doing the job in AAA. Has he been assigned a number? Let me know. The other guy we got was Class A pitcher, Adrian Rosario. Sounds like a deal to me.

Thanks as always to the readers who kept up the dialog in my absence. By the way I’m looking for a Drupal-profient partner to revamp the site, please let me know if you know someone!

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A Tough Loss

Well this was a crazy week even by Mets standards, one that began on a promising note when R.A. Dickey shook off his own poor start, and pitched a scrappy overachieving team to a respectable .500 mark and an upset of the Yankees, and ended seven days later with the Mets just as embarrassing as ever, with Dickey on the way to the disabled list and the overachievers badly exposed.

In the middle of it all was Fred Wilpon, whose show of pathetic self-pity and delusion in the pages of The New Yorker seemingly sapped whatever energy the Mets had exhibited on their long journey back to .500. Poor Fred: Doesn’t matter who gets dragged through the mud in his rush to clear his name and prove his own ignorance, while at the same time he’s got his hand out for new investors so that he won’t be hurt by his money-losing Mets. Fred doesn’t appear to understand that he’s in the image business, or that players and fans will get along just fine were he not around, but we can hope that’s something David Einhorn will teach him the hard way.

Einhorn was a name Met fans had barely known before this morning though by the time this afternoon’s loss to the Cubs began most of us already knew the story of how the tiny Dave Kingman fan grew up to become one of the hottest and most feared sluggers in the hedge fund game. I’d be awfully suprised if he doesn’t wind up going Barbarians-at-the-Gate on his new partners before long. Wouldn’t you?

Sadly, this week also included the sudden death of Dana Brand, an intelligent, sentimental and friendly Mets fan who wrote about fandom with passion and insight in books and on-line and who was at work organizing a scholarly symposium to coincide with the team’s 50th anniversary next year. I’d spoken last to Dana only a few months back at the SABR meeting in New York, where the two of us shared a mutual anticipation that the Wilpons would go Chapter 11 at some point this year. Dana was a guy who clung hard to his fandom in such challenging times, who understood he could love the team in spite of its seeming indifference to fans, and it’s sad to lose him.

Please see Matt SilvermanGreg Prince and Steve Keane for their memories of Dana.

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Do the Freddie

You gotta give it up for the New Yorker and its stunning article this week capturing Fred Wilpon as the loving-but-clueless father of Everything That’s Wrong With The Mets, from its lukewarm support of its own players, to the dumb stadium, to the spoiled son playing with private jets, to the mismanaged finances, to ownership’s overinflated confidence in its own baseball smarts, to the tin ear for fans and good media, to the stupid patriotic hats.

Your take might differ but I’ve come to the conclusion there was no way the Wilpons could have been aware enough to have realized their friend Bernard Madoff was a fraud, and no way the team today could lose any of Wright, Beltran or Reyes and not look they were invited to walk by the owner himself. Another brilliant Mets PR disaster and hopefully another reason for these well-meaning but incompetant owners to move on to something less challenging.

All we can do is dance.

 

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