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  • Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Miss The Wilpons



    by Zach Diamond

    New York Mets fans aren’t going to shed a tear when The Wilpons move on.

    On September 14, it was announced that Steve Cohen had purchased the New York Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families for $2.42 billion, giving Cohen control of 95% of the team. While the Mets aren’t completely free from the Wilpons, as they retain 5% of the club, the team is no longer under the Wilpon’s authority and control.

    If for whatever reason you feel sad about the Mets longtime owners selling the team, don’t be. Rejoice! Kiss your partner on the lips! Embrace the liberation!

    The Mets being free of Jeff and Fred Wilpon is the best thing to happen to the Mets in contemporary history (along with Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, and the 2015 World Series).

    Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t miss the Wilpon family owning the Mets.


    Reason #1: Fred Wilpon’s poor finances got in the way of roster construction and team performance

    Fred Wilpon’s relationship with Bernie Madoff in itself was incredibly unacceptable and grounds for disqualification as an MLB owner. Madoff, the dude behind the largest financial crime in United States history (a $64 billion dollar Ponzi Scheme), was part of the Mets finances and business plan.

    Josh Nathan-Kazis of The Forward summed it up nicely in 2015:
    “The role of Madoff at the Mets organization, as described in court filings and press reports that began to emerge in 2011, was very much like that of a very rich uncle. The team had 16 accounts with Madoff. Madoff’s season-ticket seats were near those of Katz and Wilpon. Cash flow for day-to-day Mets operations was paid out of Madoff accounts. When the Mets signed big contracts that involved deferred compensation, Madoff held that money.”

    We are painted a picture of this almost too good to believe wealthy business partner of Wilpon who is essentially a shadow owner bankrolling the team’s finances. The Wilpons had no problem signing big free agents to large deals because they were going to make money off those deferments through Madoff.

    The Mets operated like a large market team after Wilpon gained full control of the Mets in 2002. With the help of Madoff, the Mets were in the top 5 in payroll every season from 2003-2009. The club signed stars like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Tom Glavine, Billy Wagner, Jason Bay, and Francisco Rodriguez while trading for big contracts like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana.

    This was the golden era of Wilpon’s majority ownership, but the good times did not last. The damn broke when Madoff was arrested in late 2008. Wilpon lost $500 million dollars overnight from the fallout. In 2009 and 2010, the Mets had to borrow $880 million to stay afloat.

    The Mets stopped spending on free agents and slashed payroll to where by 2014 the Mets had dropped to 22nd in the league. The well was dry (yes another water metaphor). Uncle Madoff wasn’t around to bankroll the team anymore.

    To this day, the Mets payroll has remained mid-tier for what now has been a decade. Throughout the 2010s, the Mets were not serious players in free agency. The Mets never signed any top free agents and instead dumpster-dived in the bargain bin. The team was not operating at full capacity.

    Imagine if they were at full capacity? With the core the Mets have had since 2015, there’s no reason why the Mets shouldn’t have made the playoffs the last five seasons. Payroll limitations hurt the team’s bid for a followup to their 2015 World Series appearance.

    Wilpon’s finances have limited the Mets team since the arrest of Madoff and it has negatively impacted the quality of the roster. Wilpon won’t be missed because it is unacceptable for an owner’s poor finances to get in the way of roster construction and team performance.

    Major League Baseball should have never let the Mets operate at lowered capacity for so long. Hopefully, the Mets become major players in free agency again under Steve Cohen’s ownership. Maybe under Cohen, the Mets can sneak back into the top 5 in payroll for the first time in over a decade.


    Reason #2: Fred Wilpon benefitting from Bernie Madoff’s serious white-collar crime is not ok

    After Madoff’s arrest in 2008, lawyer Irving Picard was put in charge of recovering money for the people who had their money stolen. Picard initially claimed that Fred Wilpon and co-owner Saul Katz knew about the fraud or should have known about the fraud and should pay 1$ billion dollars to the victims.

    Fred Wilpon was being accused of having known about and profited off of the largest financial crime in US history, and that is something that should not be taken lightly.

    The lawsuit alone should have been enough for Major League Baseball to force him to sell. Wilpon getting himself and the Mets baseball team wrapped up in the Ponzi scheme is conduct that should not have been tolerated by the top executives.

    Wilpon and Katz claimed that they did not know about the scheme and that they were victims too. But, how can they be victims? They became billionaires investing with Madoff and owned a baseball team because of it.

    So many innocent people actually lost all of their fortunes because of Madoff. The innocent victims of the scheme cannot be compared to the Wilpons, who made hundreds of millions off Madoff.

    The result of the lawsuit is that Mr. Picard dropped the claims that the men had ignored warnings about Mr. Madoff; Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz agreed that they were obligated to pay back $162 million in so-called fictitious profits they had reaped from the net winner accounts from 2002 to ’08.”

    Considering the initial lawsuit was for $1 billion dollars, getting it down to $162 million was a huge win for the Wilpons. But let’s not understate the significance of this. An owner of an MLB team involved in a lawsuit of this kind should not be owning a baseball team.

    Fred Wilpon’s relationship with Madoff and the eventual lawsuit should be disqualifying conduct for an owner of a baseball team. Especially since as a result for the next decade the Mets operated at limited financial capability. There should be no toleration for this level of criminal white collar behavior especially when it impacts the team roster.

    Mets fans should not miss the Wilpon’s because a person who became a billionaire off the backs of a guy committing absurd fraud should not own a sports team. While Steve Cohen has had his own trouble with illegal financial stuff (which billionaire hasn’t?), if any white-collar criminal is going to own the team, it might as well not be the Wilpons.


    Reason #3: Jeff Wilpon’s Mediocre Meddling

    Fred’s son Jeff no longer being apart of the decision-making for the Mets is the third reason that you shouldn’t miss the Wilpons. Jeff is the bratty nepotistic son of a billionaire who meddles with all of the Mets’ affairs.

    After co-owner Nelson Doubleday sold his half of the team to Fred, he criticized Jeff for being heavily involved in the daily operation of the team.
    “Mr. Jeff Wilpon has decided that he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year. Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.”

    Doubleday warned us about Jeff’s role with the Mets and his prediction to “run for the hills, boys,” was wise advice. Jeff’s meddling was out of control.

    Joel Sherman reported in 2004 that in an interview with Jeff Wilpon, “he did not dispute he is in charge of the day-to-day running of just about every facet of the organization from clean bathrooms to player procurement.”

    Joel Sherman also reported in 2010 that a baseball executive in regular contact with the Mets said:
    “Jeff is the problem with the organization, and he is never going to realize that. He cannot help himself. He has to be involved. He will never hire anyone who will not let him have major input. He will not hire anyone who does not run every personnel decision through him.”

    Sportswriter Peter Gammons called Jeff Wilpon the Mets GM and said that Omar Minaya is only ‘out there to take the heat.’

    In 2005, Jeff forced the injured Pedro Martinez to pitch through it, saying, “While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.”

    Do you get the idea? Jeff Wilpon overstepped his role as the owner’s son and ran the baseball operations of the Mets. It is extremely unprofessional for Jeff to do so and has only hurt the Mets organization. Jeff should not be making major decisions pertaining to roster construction and baseball gameplay.

    Jeff should have left the baseball decisions to the smartest professionals in the industry instead of signing off on everything himself. If the goal is to win a World Series than an owner would best meet that goal by hiring a smart industry person and not by leaving it to the owner’s son.

    Removing Jeff from the Mets operation is going to be a huge boost to the team’s functionality. There are countless more examples not listed here about the Wilpon’s meddling in on-field decisions, medical decisions, and roster constructing decisions.

    Hopefully, Steve Cohen doesn’t overstep his role as owner and leaves the baseball stuff to baseball professionals. The Mets are going to be so much better off not being run by Jeff Wilpon.


    Reason #4: The Wilpons have a history of treating their employees badly and poorly running their team operations

    Ken Davidoff reported in 2017 for The New York Post:
    Conversations with 10 people possessing first-hand knowledge of the Mets’ baseball operations produced the picture of … an environment where CEO Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon both are prone to micromanagement, with Fred Wilpon more likely to assert himself in on-the-field decisions and Jeff Wilpon more involved in medical matters — such as working on media releases about injuries — clouding the chain of command.

    How are the Mets supposed to function when the top of their organizational ladder is so dysfunctional? If the chain of command is cloudy in a work environment, the employees may not be able to do their job as well. The Mets operation was terrible under the Wilpons who had to sign off on every decision the team made.

    This is not how owners of a sports franchise should act. They would rather retain power and control over the team than giving the job to professionals who can actually get them a shot at winning. Fans deserve to have the team run by people who know what they’re doing than the son of the owner.

    Jeff has also treated an employee horribly by bullying her.

    In 2014, Leigh Castergine, a former senior vice president for ticket sales sued Jeff Wilpon for discriminating against her for being pregnant without being married. Jeff said, “When she gets a ring, she’ll make more money and get a bigger bonus.”

    Leigh also said that Jeff said in a meeting, “I am as morally opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to Leigh having this baby without being married.”

    When Castergine complained to HR, she was fired from the Mets. The behavior by Jeff is extremely unprofessional and worth firing over if he wasn’t the owner’s son. Fostering a workplace environment such as this at the Mets is unacceptable. Jeff is being a shmuck talking to an employee this way.

    Castergine reached a private settlement with the Mets in 2015.

    The way the Wilpons have treated their on-field staff members have been slimy at times. In 2008, the Mets famously fired Willie Randolph at 3:11 AM after letting him travel all the way to California. That is an incredibly rude way to treat your employee. If you were planning on firing him, the Wilpons should have done it before he flew to the west coast and especially not at 3:11 AM.

    The worst part is that the Wilpon’s had Omar Minaya do the deed for them. Fred and Jeff didn’t even tell Randolph themselves. It’s a cowardly move that had no professional integrity and no regard for Randolph’s well being.

    In 2018, the Wilpons scapegoated Sandy Alderson who was sick with cancer by firing him and blaming him for not signing top free agents and having a small analytics department.

    In 2011, Fred called the face of the franchise David Wright, “a really good kid … not a superstar.” Why would the owner of a sports franchise say that about their best player? What does he have to gain by saying that? All he is doing is disrespecting the face of the franchise who will spend his whole career in a Mets uniform and is the team’s best offensive player of all time.

    David Wright was a superstar and a surefire Hall of Famer before injuries cut his career short. There’s no reason to say he wasn’t one. Just a terrible thing for an owner to say.


    Drew's Sig

    Comment


    • Potentially adding Omar, Alderson, an actual GM, and Cohen. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

      I can get behind the idea of Alderson acting as a transition liaison for the Cohens (and smoothing over the owners), but I hope he's more of an advisor then actually calling shots because I was not a fan of his overall tactics. An empty farm means winning long term is unsustainable an Alderson was continuously emptying the farm in trades - I mean not even as close to have BVW has savaged the farm, but it wasn't good. Obviously these are all in hindsight, but as a GM, you are paid for reading the situation better than the other 31 guys and ultimately judged for your outcomes:

      Results: With exception of a 2015 year that no one saw coming and then they couldn't repeat, Alderson's tenure was full of losing seasons and he left the Mets in a position to keep losing. I don't know how anyone could argue against that. He inherited a bad team. Got impatient and traded away the farm for short term success. Then gave away a bad team to BVW (who proceeded to trade away the farm in hopes of short term success, ugh!)

      Looking back - what were the great moves Alderson did? I'll use a different post to break it down so this one's not a mile long - but that's a serious question. In your opinions, what were the winning and losing moves that Alderson completed?

      Comment


      • Originally posted by NY FANG View Post
        Potentially adding Omar, Alderson, an actual GM, and Cohen. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

        I can get behind the idea of Alderson acting as a transition liaison for the Cohens (and smoothing over the owners), but I hope he's more of an advisor then actually calling shots because I was not a fan of his overall tactics. An empty farm means winning long term is unsustainable an Alderson was continuously emptying the farm in trades - I mean not even as close to have BVW has savaged the farm, but it wasn't good. Obviously these are all in hindsight, but as a GM, you are paid for reading the situation better than the other 31 guys and ultimately judged for your outcomes:

        Results: With exception of a 2015 year that no one saw coming and then they couldn't repeat, Alderson's tenure was full of losing seasons and he left the Mets in a position to keep losing. I don't know how anyone could argue against that. He inherited a bad team. Got impatient and traded away the farm for short term success. Then gave away a bad team to BVW (who proceeded to trade away the farm in hopes of short term success, ugh!)

        Looking back - what were the great moves Alderson did? I'll use a different post to break it down so this one's not a mile long - but that's a serious question. In your opinions, what were the winning and losing moves that Alderson completed?
        I don't know if one can fairly judge his first tenure with the Mets. Sandy's hands were tied not just by the Madoff finance issues but the Wilpon meddling as well. How much impact did that have on the moves he was actually able to make? How many moves did he make at the direction of Jeff and Fred who thought they were experts that he took ownership of? He was brought in at the urging of Selig to bring some respectability to a totally dysfunctional organization that he should have forced ownership to sell back then just as he did with McCourt and the Dodgers. The only reason he didn't is he couldn't be objective with the Mets due to his friendship with Fred. I am not fond of Sandy's moneyball approach to building a team, but his lack of success with the Mets falls more on the Wilpon shoulders than his.

        Comment


        • Overall - looking at the below - there aren't enough winning moves on here (outside the low hanging fruit) to make me think Alderson was some type of guru in the office. On the flip side there are some major missteps. Turner, Murphy, Cespedes final deal, Bruce, Bruce, Cuddyer, Bruce again, Familia, etc.

          Wining moves
          :
          • He got value for Dickey, coming off a Cy Young getting a can't miss prospect (TdA) and a pitcher in rookie ball with high upside (Thor).
          • Value for Beltran having a great year after finally getting healthy in return from another young pitcher with high upside.
          • MdD for Blevins was a good value move - credit.
          • Neise for Walker - Walker had the better year after trade so I guess this is a win
          Overall, the two big ones are both big winning trades , but they aren't exactly pulling magic out of a hat, any GM should have been able to get that kind of value for those players.


          Losing moves:
          • In a similar situation, he absolutely botched the K-Rod trade getting squat for one of the most desirable BP options on the market.
          • And then Angel Pagan netting nobody of consequence and Colin McHughes netting Eric Young Jr who was a fast player with very limited offensive upside.
          • Familia - Traded a reliever w/ a 2.88 ERA for a pair of nobodies.
          These trades are definitely losses for the Mets. Impulsive moves that even in real time we headscratchers. Turner was the sadest as he had short term success when given time to play, but he didn't fit Alderson's mold of a power bat.


          Argue both ways
          • And then there's the Cespedes trade, where we traded a can't miss pitching prospect for a 1/2 year rental. It worked out, so you have to give that hindsight nod to Sandy, but that's a STEEP price to pay for a 1/2 year. If Fullmer didn't end up having Tommy John, I wonder if we'd still be calling this a win?
          • Jay Bruce - traded Dilson Herrera who was a big prospect name at the time, but ended up being a bust. Main headscratcher here was it started the trend of Mets needing to use a corner OFer in CF. Absolutely fit Alderson's strategy of Offense over Defense, but this was an extreme.

          FA signings:
          • Cespedes - ended up being a budgetary black hole
          • Granderson - 4years, 60MM in 2013. Big money for back then ranking 6th biggest contract that year (god contracts have blown up). Did we get that kind of production out of him? Great club house guy, unproductive HR or bust in the box (which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone)
          • Bastardo - big BP signing - ended up only being worth Jon Neise repeat in a trade.
          • Jay Bruce - knowing what this did to CF, we exercised his option to bring him back?!
          • Michael Cuddyer - coming off WS appearance, this was a majorly dissapointing signing and is part of the 2016 regression.
          • Jay Bruce - and then we resigned him AGAIN leading in part for a need to dump 2019 salary dump which factored into the entire Cano trade on a 3 year 39M deal.

          FA/Extension non-signings:
          • He non-tendered Justin Turner go for nothing while he was hitting .280 over 200 ABs (UGH)
          • He let Murphy walk who signed a very reasonable contract (Painful)
          • He didn't extend Matt Harvey (Win)
          • Didn't extend Jacob DeGrom (Loss)
          • Jose Reyes - Can argue this one both ways, but I understand not competing against the Marlins offer on guy dependent on speed

          I'm not trying to say Alderson was completely inept in his tenure, but he ran the mets for 8 seasons, they made the playoffs twice, and if it weren't for the surprised of Alonso and McNeil in 2019, the 2019 wasn't hopeful either. I just don't see enough to praise him with accolades and give him back any part of the mantle of power. Time for some fresh blood IMO.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by West Coast Mets Fan View Post

            I don't know if one can fairly judge his first tenure with the Mets. Sandy's hands were tied not just by the Madoff finance issues but the Wilpon meddling as well. How much impact did that have on the moves he was actually able to make? How many moves did he make at the direction of Jeff and Fred who thought they were experts that he took ownership of? He was brought in at the urging of Selig to bring some respectability to a totally dysfunctional organization that he should have forced ownership to sell back then just as he did with McCourt and the Dodgers. The only reason he didn't is he couldn't be objective with the Mets due to his friendship with Fred. I am not fond of Sandy's moneyball approach to building a team, but his lack of success with the Mets falls more on the Wilpon shoulders than his.
            If money was an issue - spend smarter or stop trading away cheap young talent. But that "hamstrung" is bananas. Pretty sure they were in the top 1/3 of salary every year Alderson had the reigns. They were only in the top 1/2 of records twice.

            As for the Wilpons interference - yes, there is something to be said there - but I think it's mostly on Sandy picking the players and making the trades. If not, then why resign after the first contract expierd letting the Wilpons further drag your name through the mud?
            Last edited by NY FANG; 25-Sep-2020, 02:51 PM.

            Comment


            • All that I keep thinking is that the Rays are successful year after year spending less than almost everyone else. Not advocating spending no money, but can't we find similarly smart front office people.

              Or maybe there is some kind of voodoo magic involved with them. So they changed their name from the Devil Rays to throw us off?

              Comment


              • I had a feeling it was something like this.

                Sandy leaves the Mets because of "health reasons", and what, three months later goes to work for the A's? Whatever therapy he was on should be mandatory if he recovers that fast.

                Then, the clincher. Jeff has not even formally cleaned out his desk and Sandy comes back.

                Methinks there is a thread through all of this.

                Comment


                • Fantastic analysis Fang. Very thorough, thanks for sharing, though the details also depressed me.

                  Comment


                  • We can debate Sandy all night, but the bottom line is this. Hiring Sandy appears to assist Steve in getting the votes to gain the team.

                    That is in and of itself reason enough to like the move.

                    Additionally, Sandy is not getting hired to be the GM, more like the club president. Omar is still there as the scouting guy (or whatever his title is, talent procurement and evaluation is his job, and he IS good at that). I think that probably means that Rojas is going to remain the manager as he has been with the organization and Sandy and Omar are supporters. I don't have a HUGE problem with that, I guess.

                    The key will be who is hired to be the GM going forward. It's a foregone conclusion that Brodie is out, and so long, see ya, get out to him.

                    The direction they take with that hire will show the tone that the organization will take. I don't see Steve sitting back and looking long term, and he should not. There is enough talent on this team to be a serious contender, and fast, with the right moves. I expect there to be significant changes coming down the pipe this off season.

                    November can't get here fast enough.

                    Comment


                    • Brian - I'm cool with it as long as it's not to oversee the new GM. I he's purely ceremonial, fantastic, not my money, don't care.

                      And MJJM, exactly. The difference is when was the last time the Rays made a blockbuster where they gave away depth from their system? They trade away the guys who are close to FA who they don't intend to sign. The sign the couple that they want to keep. And they keep bringing up high quality fresh blood. Now mix into that the ability to also sign a Garret Cole and you should have a contender. Step one though is DO NOT TRADE AWAY YOUR KELENICS!

                      Comment


                      • Yes Fang and mjjm, which is why a few days ago I said to go after the Rays' front office people and Kevin Cash too.

                        Comment


                        • Watching tonight's Marlins-Yankees game, the Marlins announcer made a very good point. He was saying that the Marlins front office deserves credit for investing in analytics and player scouting. This enabled them to fill in their roster with quality spare parts from other teams and from the waiver wire when they had over half the regular roster on the IL with COVID positives.

                          Does that make a difference? Well, their win tonight sent them to the playoffs, and eliminated us.

                          Comment


                          • I read that Sandy is looking to hire Billy Owens, the A's asst GM, to be the GM. Here is one of several media outlets to report it

                            https://sports.yahoo.com/buzz-linkin...172701403.html

                            Comment


                            • This one will make a lot of you happy. Rays exec Bobby Veck is being considered as well:

                              https://metsmerizedonline.com/2020/0...m-search.html/

                              Comment


                              • As Saxon would say though, this may be the media just throwing spitballs

                                Comment

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