Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘The Wilpons’ Category

Call Me Skeptical, But…

Posted by JD on October 18, 2010

There are half a dozen or so good candidates involved in the Mets’ search for a new general manager (Patrick Flood analyzes each of them here), but I can’t shake the suspicion that it doesn’t really matter who ultimately gets the job: Fred and Jeff Wilpon will still be signing the new GM’s paycheck, and no matter how many good intentions they have (or how much “autonomy” they concede) the root causes of the current malaise will still be lurking in the background.

That’s not to say that the new GM, whoever it may be, can’t breathe new life into the team. Omar Minaya had a nice run in 2005-06, before the collapses and injuries combined with his lack of a clear vision to derail the team, and Jeff Wilpon steadily assumed a higher profile in the baseball operations.  

I know I’m being unfairly negative. This is a time of change for the organization: the right hire might satisfy the Wilpons to the point that they feel comfortable distancing themselves from the day-to-day operations. The right general manager might be able to change the organizational structure in such way that it can function after he’s gone, and the team might even win a championship while it’s happening. I should at least give the Wilpons a chance to go through their process before writing it off.

But I can’t. I can’t bring myself to buy in to what they’re selling. After all, it was only five years ago that we went through this very process, and look how that turned out. Yes, all good things come to an end, and general managers (and managers) are “hired to be fired,” but the fact that the Omar Minaya era ended in almost the exact same way it began (in a state of organizational confusion) is most disheartening. Yes, ’05 and ’06 and even most of ’07 were good times for the Mets. I won’t discount that. But ’08 and ’09 and now ’10 are so analogous to ’02 and ’03 and ’04 that I cannot ignore the feeling of déjà vu.

I hope very much that I am wrong. I hope that Fred and Jeff have learned their lesson. I hope that they hire someone they trust enough to grant true autonomy, and that they then honor that throughout that person’s tenure. I hope that if it doesn’t work out, they can fire that person cleanly rather than killing them slowly with a thousand cuts of ownership interference. I hope all of these things, and there’s a chance that they could all happen. I just don’t think it’s a very good chance.

Your move, Fred and Jeff. Prove me wrong. Nothing would make me happier.


Posted in Mets, Omar Minaya, The Wilpons | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

A Quick Note About The MLB Draft

Posted by JD on June 6, 2010

Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft will begin tomorrow night, and I’d like to get my request on the record before it begins. It has nothing to do with drafting this player or that player: I’m no “draftnik” and I won’t waste your time by pretending I know anything substantial about the eligible players. No, my request is more straightforward: I want Omar Minaya to draft the players that he wants.

Sounds simple enough, but I don’t know if it will happen. The Mets have tended to adhere to Bud Selig’s “slotting system” in the past, but I sincerely hope they don’t this year. I don’t have a preference as to who they draft and won’t be overly critical of any of their choices. I just want to see them spend whatever it takes to secure their preferred players.

The Mets didn’t spend as much as I expected in the off-season, they’ve shown a severe reluctance to eat guaranteed contracts, and they’ve fostered the general perception that they pinch pennies. It’s certainly not my money, but I think it would be an important gesture to the fans if they spent an extra million or two to secure their targeted prospects. I’m certainly not getting my hopes up, but it sure would be nice to see.

Posted in Mets, Omar Minaya, The Wilpons | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Little Drama

Posted by JD on May 17, 2010

It got a little crazy this afternoon, didn’t it? On the heels of Omar Minaya’s announcement that he would accompany the team to Atlanta, Jeff Wilpon changed his plans and flew down, too. I read Metsblog at least 10 times a day and I happened to check in as this post was published…and that was effectively the end of my workday. The various beat writers were tweeting minute-by-minute status updates, so I pulled out my Blackberry, fired up the Ubertwitter app, and hit refresh approximately every two minutes.

Given how poorly the Mets have played recently, I initially thought we were witnessing the end of Jerry Manuel’s managing tenure. Wilpon, Manuel, Minaya and Assistant GM John Ricco were locked in discussions behind closed doors and I was sure that Jerry would soon be an ex-manager. The doors opened, Jerry walked through, the question was asked, and…Jerry laughed it off and quickly returned to the room with Dan Warthen, Randy Niemann, and Ray Ramirez in tow. Ok, I thought, we’re going to have a new pitching coach.

Not so fast. Warthen, Niemann, and Ramirez left the room a few minutes later, still gainfully employed. Well, that could only mean one thing: upper management was discussing whether they could afford to cut Oliver Perez. But as the minutes crawled by, it slowly dawned on me that they were just getting an update on Jon Niese’s status. Sure enough, word soon came from the beat writers that there was a locker with R.A. Dickey’s name on it, and that Hisanori Takahashi would be taking Niese’s next turn in the rotation.

Wednesday’s starter is still up in the air, but that’s about the only unresolved issue. Jeff Wilpon spoke to the beat writers shortly after the 90-minute ordeal ended, saying “I came to talk baseball… If I felt good about what is going on, I wouldn’t be here.” And that was that. Manuel, Warthen, and Perez kept their jobs, and the Mets got ready to face the Braves.

Oh, that’s right: they also played a game, which the Mets won 3-2. Chris Carter started in right field and had a double and an RBI before being lifted for Jeff Francoeur in a defensive switch…in the 6th inning. GMJ started and did GMJ things again (0-3 with a strike out and a big GIDP with the Mets threatening in the seventh), and Francisco Rodriguez made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth before striking out Nate McClouth to end the game.

Plenty to write about there, but I have no energy for it: getting my hopes up earlier in the afternoon left me spent. The win postponed the Manuel-watch for at least another series or two (I doubt they’ll make a move until after the Yankees series now). But rest assured, we’ll surely be treated to more management-driven drama before long.

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya, The Wilpons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why The Cablevision/ABC Battle Matters to Mets Fans

Posted by JD on March 7, 2010

As many of you know first-hand, Cablevision and Disney are currently locked in a contract dispute that has prevented millions of local viewers from viewing the Oscars. I can’t say that I’m qualified to judge who’s right or wrong here, nor do I care to: that’s for you to decide. What I can tell you is that those of you who openly pine for the Wilpons to sell the Mets should pay close attention, because the Dolans are the prime candidates to be the owner should they sell.

Cablevision owns the Rangers, Knicks, Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and various other related properties. Charles Dolan (founder and chairman) and his son Jim (president, CEO, and blues guitarist*) have cornered the Long Island media market: they recently purchased Newsday and have a virtual stranglehold on the market (if you haven’t read this article about how they’ve neutered Newsday, I urge you to do so). The sports and news properties they own primarily serve as content-providers, cash cows that drive viewers to subscribe to their cable monopoly. It’s a effective strategy: current market studies show that 75% of Long Island house holds are Cablevision subscribers.

*I ask you this: is there anything more offensive than the son of a billionaire playing the blues? I think not.

Any fan of the Rangers or Knicks (and I’m both) can tell you that the Dolans value conformity and loyalty over anything else. Glen Sather has run the Rangers into mediocrity since 2000 and Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas absolutely ruined what should be one of the NBA’s premiere franchises, but they kept their jobs because swore allegiance to the Dolan flag. The bottom line for the organization is not the number of championships they win, it’s the number of subscribers they have. The worst part of this equation is that by their definition they’re very successful: Cablevision makes money hand over fist.

I can tell you this: the Dolans haven’t had viable summer content for their MSG network since SNY debuted. They would jump on the chance to purchase the Mets and have more than enough money to do so. SNY would disappear or become MSG2 and 1050 AM would become the flagship radio station. Every negative surrounding the Rangers’ and Knicks’ front offices would be replicated in Flushing before you could blink an eye. Cronyism may or may not be present in the front office today, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it would become institutionalized as soon as the purchase was completed.

You can say what you want about the Wilpons and I certainly won’t defend them (personally, I happen to think that Fred’s not that bad, but Jeff strikes me as a total buffoon). Their priorities often conflict with the average fan and I think we’ve all been frustrated by them more than once (to be charitable). However, as tone-deaf as they may seem, they strike me as being infinitely more responsive to us than the Dolans would be. Speaking strictly as a fan who dreams of new ownership for my hockey and basketball teams, I hope the Wilpons don’t sell. I don’t think I could handle having the Dolans run three of my favorite franchises, and that’s the most likely outcome.

Posted in Mets, The Wilpons | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »