This whole thing

Let’s give Jeff Wilpon the benefit of the doubt here for a moment.

Let’s say he is not short-tempered. Tone deaf. A credit seeker. An accountability deflector. A micro-manager. A second-guesser. A less-than-deep thinker. And bad at self-awareness.

Fine, he’s none of these things. But here is the problem: This is his perception in the industry as the Mets try yet again to fix their baseball operations department.

Joel Sherman, N.Y. Post.

Look: I’m not here to write a whole post defending Jeff Wilpon because everyone would just question my motivations and I’d have to deal with that whole thing again, and I’m just not in the mood.

And the truth is, I have no idea how business goes down in the Mets’ front office. I see what happens — the decisions not to eat sunk cost or invest in the draft, the pervasive inefficiency and misallocation of resources — but I have no idea who is responsible. Actually, it baffles me how so many other writers and bloggers could have such a firm grip on the precise inner workings of the Mets’ bureaucracy while I’m out here in the dark.

What I’m certain of is this, though: The media and fanbase love a bugaboo. When things go wrong like things have gone wrong for the Mets these last couple of years, we tend to oversimplify and identify a single problem in place of the much more complicated truth. So instead of acknowledging that the Mets have been mismanaged at almost all levels for the past several years, we say, “Jeff Wilpon! This is Jeff Wilpon’s fault! We must somehow get rid of Jeff Wilpon!”

But I seem to remember not long ago that it was all Tony Bernazard’s fault. And now Tony Bernazard is gone, receding shirtless into the sunset, and yet the Mets are still 15 games out of first place, two games under .500, playing meaningless games in September. Tony Bernazard, it turned out, was not the problem.

Smart money says Jeff Wilpon is not the problem either. For all I know he may be part of the problem, and hell, as the Mets’ COO he is the one ultimately responsible for the problem, but it likely took a lot more than one man to put together back-to-back losing teams with payrolls over $125 million. And a smart, strong, savvy GM — should the Mets find one — should have the ability to stand up to a meddling owner and politely advise against poor decisions.

One other thing: I’ve seen it written multiple places that Mets’ ownership lacks the motivation to put out a winning team because of the profitability of this network. Think that through. That logic assumes that the Wilpons see the Mets and SNY as businesses for generating profit, but that they somehow don’t realize that a winning team would generate more profit through ticket sales, ad revenue and television ratings.

Even if you’re certain Mets’ ownership is just about making money, winning is the best way to make money. The Mets have just been going about winning in all the wrong ways.

13 thoughts on “This whole thing

  1. Regarding the last two paragraphs: well, that’s just insane. Generating revenue (i.e. SNY, ticket sales, etc) will be offset by operating costs (i.e. doctor bills, enormous contracts, etc). The result is what they refer to as “profit”.

    If this team was interested in making profit in this bizarre, Kansas City-esque manner, well they wouldn’t do it with a payroll in the same ballpark as they have (pun intended).

    I don’t think that Mets’ ownership and management lacks motivation. I just think they are pretty darn unlucky and mildly retarded.

    • For what it’s worth, the team will say, as has Steve Phillips, that the team only really becomes profitable if they’re filling the ballpark ALL of September and when they get in to the playoffs, aside from that the operate more or less to break even. I don’t pretend to know how or what that is, just saying I have heard that idea in more than one place, and from more than one person.

  2. Sorry, Ted, but you know we blame Beltran before anyone in this organization.

    I met Jeff Wilpon last year. I thought he was really nice. I had a great five minute conversation with him and the Wilpons do truly care about this organization. That being said, the team needs a business manager that can bring back a good family feeling to Citi Field like we had at Shea, and not tolerate the excuses.

    As just about any quarterback will tell you, “You get too much credit when you’re winning, and too much blame when you’re losing.”

    • True but that doesn’t really counter my point. You can profit without winning, but when you’re also running a TV network connected to the team, you stand to profit a whole lot more by winning.

  3. Not sure anyone else would agree, but I dont think ‘unnamed sources’ should be allowed in general in sportwritting.

    I think at the end of the day I’d rather have significantly less or no information than have an abundance of nonsense from shady unnamed sources.

  4. Everything I have read and heard says the Wilpons are nice people but I just get this dopey vibe from them. A family of sensitive people that do the wrong things for the right reasons.
    I’m sure we’ve all met people in our lives that are nice people but in the end are kind of chumps.
    They try hard but they fail.

    Doesn’t mean they don’t care, it just means, they’re… I don’t know the word I’m looking for here, maybe they’re trying “too hard” I don’t know…

  5. its cliche but how well any organization runs starts at the top. so while there’s plenty of blame to go round, wilpon is ultimately responsible, if for nothing else than to make sure the people who are to blame are swiftly replaced. so i think its fair to dump on wilpon all one wants.

    • I dont think these guys make things up, Sherman was probably told these things. The problem I have with unnamed sources is that knowing who is saying these things, goes a long way into the credibility of the statements. Without having to disclose this, the writter deflects any responsibility in explaining how credible the source is.

      “sources around baseball”, that could be Steve Phillips or Tont B, or the someone else fired by the Mets in the past with and axe to grind, or people in the Phillies front office trying to trash the Mets, or whatever.

      I always thought a writter using Anonymous sources was supposed to explain vaguely who the person is and thier motivations for speaking on the subject, to give the reader insight into the intentions of the source, but this doesnt ever seem to be done anymore.

  6. The way I see it, the field manager is tactical and the general manager is strategic. The rare field manager may be able to motivate a team to perform better than the sum of its part, but this has limitations and in my experience is that it comes as a result of a win as a team mentality that the manager establishes early on. On the other hand , the GM evaluates talent and works a budget to create the best mix of players possible to win baseball games. From what I have seen this is the hole in the NY Mets organization. My take on the Wilpons is the same now as it was last October. They failed the NY Mets by not replacing Omar Minaya when it was apparent he was unable to lead the organization as a whole. Making a few good trades or signings is not enough. Drafting of prospects, prospect development, mixing youth with veterans, acquiring player that have the team first mentality, & awarding contracts consistent with market value are all current weaknesses. It’s a year late but hopefully the Omar Minaya experiment will end soon.

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