The Madoff Money Trail

I am not trying to pretend I understand what the hell went on between the Wilpons and the Maddoffs, or between Bernie and anyone for that matter. Just that since the announcement that the Wilpons are selling a portion of the team there has been a lot of confusion as to how the Wilpons lost money and more precisely how much.

There are tons of different reports out there even before all this “limited partner” stuff came about today. I will simply work with the most popular figures as an attempt to demonstrate the most likely scenario. Again I have no idea how accurate any of this is, and in fact I assume it’s all wrong. This is just how I understand it as happening. Feel free to correct me via the comments.
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Jeff Wilpon comments on payroll

Adam Rubin is has reported a few quotes from Jeff Wilpon today on the Mets 2011 payroll. Jeff has been laying low since the hirings of Alderson and his braintrust and I think that was a good move. I just wish he would have continued with that strategy:

“I don’t think they realize the payrolll is up in the $145 [million] or better range,” Wilpon said about casual observers. “I don’t think people realize that. Unfortunately, we were somewhat hamstrung by what had happened before. Sandy [Alderson]‘s plan was to go and deal with it this year and make sure we have tremendous flexibility next year.”

Wilpon also applauded the front office’s performance this offseason.

“I think Sandy and his staff have put together the best team we can to get on the field, and now it’s time to get out there and prove that we’re better than people think,” Wilpon said.

This is exactly what angers me about the Wilpons by and large. They think we are idiots. They take us as fools. They really think we will hear that quote and go “Oh ok great – we have a big payroll so everything must be ok!” They fail to realize that the high payroll is due to contracts that we the fans lambasted the day they were offered.

So because they continued to employ a guy who was obviously in over his head, and because they have continued to refuse to pay over-slot for draft picks and thus limiting the farm production, we are supposed to just grin and bear it because the Mets are spending a lot of money?

From where I sit the fact that the Mets are paying $145 MILLION for this seasons paper thin roster should be embarrassing to the Wilpons and anyone associated with the albatross filled payroll. That’s like someone saying to their kids “Sorry, but we can’t buy any more groceries, but hey you don’t realize we bought this house for $600k when it was only worth $350k.” Give me a break.

With that said, I applaude the fact that Alderson has given the Wilpons the stark reality and gotten them to face the music as much as they can this year, thus freeing us up for the years beyond. I happen to agree with Jeff’s last statement and think a potentially over-achieving team would be a great change around here.

Wilpons to blame for Ollie P mess?

Just found this via MetsBlog:

According to Gammons, Scott Boras approached the Mets a few weeks ago and asked them to put Oliver Perez on the disabled list, send him to Florida and have him work with renowned sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman.

However, Jeff Wilpon declined, says Gammons, ‘because he didn’t think that was appropriate, or necessary.’

WHAT? Are you kidding me? We had an out to get rid of this guy and free up the roster spot and the Wilpons declined? They probably declined because the shrink wasn’t on their HMO approved list. Unbelievable.

Of course it could just be spin by the agent, stay tuned in for more on this soap opera.


Mets front office accounting doesn’t add up

This isn’t meant to be a bash piece. I don’t pretend to know the dollars and cents behind my beloved Mets. Problem is at times, I feel like neither does the front office.

When you sit down and think about it, the Mets really did pinch their pennies this season. Some people will call me stupid pointing quickly to the Jason Bay signing. I agree that’s a nice signing and I like seeing him in a Mets uniform. But since he got here Omar has been the king of the obvious. What he has lacked is finding depth and those diamonds in the rough that are so important to winning teams. We lack the role-players and veteran leadership that we need. This is because as soon as Bay was signed, the Wilpons slammed the checkbook closed. I really think they thought to themselves “Ok we signed them (the fans) Bay, they should be happy, now not another dollar more!”

Lets use two examples of players we knew absolutely, 100%, wanted to play for the Mets. I have been screaming and yelling for Orlando Hudson for two years now and for two years now we have missed the boat. It’s no secret that I think he is just what the Mets need. A good hitter and a great fielder up the middle. His presence would be an upgrade in the lineup, and a huge upgrade in the field. How in the world, when so much is riding on the performance of your flaky pitching staff, can you not make this move and upgrade a middle infield spot? The real kicker is for two years in a row now Hudson has signed for a $5 million dollar, 1-year contract. That is such a bargain. And I am not even taking into account his clubhouse benefits.

Along with Hudson another guy that publicly came out and said he wanted to play in Queens was Jason Marquis. He signed a 2-year $15 million dollar contract. Your telling me that the Nationals can afford to sign him but the Mets can’t? Am I supposed to believe that we couldn’t use another arm? Look at the Yankees, they get it, they had a stud rotation last year, and they went out and jumped at the chance to make it stronger when it presented itself. The Mets instead chose to pass. Now let me slow it down a bit by saying I don’t think Marquis is a top of the ladder starter. He’s not the solution for the Mets. But I fail to see how he wouldn’t help us? We need to sign anyone who wants to be here. After watching so many players that didn’t want to be here (ie Tom Glavine, Aaron Heilman, et all) we need to welcome people who want to play for us (hell you could debate even the owners don’t want to be in Queens!).

Take these two contracts and it adds up to around $12 million dollars. If estimates are correct that the Mets payroll is somewhere around $120 million for the year, that would mean an increase of only ten percent. For a ten percent increase you would add a Gold-Glove second baseman and another good bat to your lineup. You would add another professional pitcher and deepen your rotation that much more, and in turn strengthen your bullpen. Not to mention adding to guys who would really be excited to play in New York, and not just because of the dollar signs.

It’s kinda crazy when you think about how the front office had no problem adding that extra year to Bays contract even when nobody else was bidding against them. It’s moves like this that drive me bonkers. It’s like Omar and the ownership get dazzled by the big names and get tunnel vision and lose sight of the actual goal. The goal isn’t to put a big name up on the scoreboard, it’s to put a winning team on the field.

The thing I think they fail to see is that a winning team will sell a LOT more tickets then adding one good player (lets be real, Jason Bay isn’t even a great player, and no superstar). The fact remains that be refusing to spend a few million dollars more fortifying your roster, you will lose many million more in lost revenue when nobody is coming to games in August.

Why the Wilpons are good for the Mets

fred and jeff wilpon ownership of the metsAt first glance you are probably saying “Say what?”  This is the same guy that slams the Mets hierarchy on a regular basis.  I definitely have many gripes with the ownership and front office, but recently I have been thinking about it and I have come to the conclusion that the Wilpons might just be good for the Mets.

What got me thinking about this change in tune was reading about the ownership mess over in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.  Talk about embarrassing.  I am sure your aware that the owners of the Dodgers were a married couple, and now they are getting divorced.  What this means is a lot of things that were never meant to be seen by us “common folk” get to see daylight in the court proceedings.  The jewel of this info thus far, is the ownerships plan to not increase payroll, and double the revenues.  Well I don’t have to own a baseball team to know that this basically boils down to an ownership plan to not spend any money to improve the team, all the while doubling prices.  Really classy.

This got me to thinking about our beloved Wilpons.  Recently Fred has announced that they have absolutely no plans to ever sell the team.  He even goes on to say that this team will be in his family for generations to come.  Now I like many of you cringed upon hearing this.  But on further thought I don’t think this is really a bad thing.

Lets be honest for a minute, this team has actually been pretty active on the free-agent front over the last few years and been in the top 5 in payroll for a while now.  These things take serious, long term, commitments by the ownership to occur.  Ownership doesn’t go out and scout the talent, nor do they coach the team.  The most they can do is hire the correct people and leave it in their hands.  This is where they Wilpons fall under the most blame.  It’s not a real argument at this point to say they have a horrible track record for hiring the wrong people.  It’s becoming very apparent that Omar Minaya has done a very poor job in his tenure here with the Mets.  And lets not even get into the whole Tony Bernazard fiasco.

The problem with the Wilpons is quite plainly that they are not baseball people.  They sure do think they are, and this is what separates the good owners from the bad.  George Steinbrenner is the best example of this.  For years he insisted on making the big decisions and often time fouled things up.  But due to the forced suspension by Major League Baseball he was forced to keep his hands off and look what happened?  The people he put in place constructed the nucleus of a championship team that is still playing today.  This Yankees run didn’t start until ownership took a hands-off approach and entrusted the baseball decisions to their baseball people.  I have to hope that eventually the Wilpons, and Jeff in particular will learn this lesson.  In fact I think they already have.

What they need to do is start hiring the right baseball people, and as we all know another window of opportunity is probably going to be real soon.  Give us an A+ GM here with the Mets and you have to admit that they do a good job of giving him plenty of resources to get the job done.

Another area this ownership needs is to refocus on the farm system.  The Mets system is largely a joke.  They like to say it’s due to big trades that have depleted the system like the Johan Santana deal.  But my reply to that is, those traded prospects haven’t done anything in their new setting either.  The organizational lack of depth is appalling.  It became painfully obvious last year and I fear we may have to learn that lesson again this year.  This can only be remedied by a deep focus on the farm system.

All in all I really can’t blame the current state of this organization on the Wilpons, at least not solely.  They can’t go out and take at bats for the team when it’s choking those two straight seasons.  If they are smart and prudent and hire good people this next go around, I think there is a chance that in years to come the Wilpons could be portrayed as good owners.  They aren’t afraid to spend money, and they do offer stability, which are two things that really aren’t all that common these days in Major League Baseball.

I guess my bottom line is that while they can really drive us nuts, lets not lose sight of the fact that it certainly could be a lot worse.