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.
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.