Mets News Aug. 25, 2009: Wagner, Sheffield, Minaya, Santana

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 3:  Billy Wagner #13 of ...
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For a team near the bottom of the National League standings, the Mets sure have a lot going on right now. You would think that they would be playing out the string and cruising into 2010. Did you know? There are only five teams in the NL with a worse winning percentage than the Mets; Nationals, Pirates, Reds, D-Backs, and Padres.

Here’s the news:

  • Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that Billy Wagner will exercise his no-trade clause to block a move to the Red Sox. The deal must be completed by 1pm today.
  • Adam Bernacchio of The Ghost of Moonlight Graham writes about how several Mets players told the media that they expect Johan Santana to have season-ending elbow surgery
  • Nick Kapur of Ump Bump writes about how the Mets have mismanaged Johan Santana by allowing him to pitch injured for the last two months
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes about Gary Sheffield’s future. He wants to play next year and beyond in his pursuit of 3,000 hits. Sheffield needs 311 more hits to reach 3,000.
  • Jon Heyman of writes about Fred Wilpon’s vote of confidence for Omar Minaya and the Billy Wagner trade to the Red Sox scenario
  • Jon Boise of AOL Fanhouse writes that the Mets injuries this year may be evidence that God hates the Mets
  • Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that Omar Minaya will have a difficult time turning things around in 2010

Fred Wilpon Supports Minaya For Mets 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 23:  General Manager Omar Mina...
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We haven’t seen much of Fred Wilpon this year and with good reason. Nobody wants to watch the stumbling, bumbling 2009 Mets. They stink. But Wilpon did make a rare appearance at Citi Field last night because the ’69 team was in the house.

Wilpon would only answer one question from the assembled media. “Will Omar Minaya be back in 2010?” His answer: “Absolutely. That’s a fact.”

I’ve heard about this topic from Mets fans since April. “Fire Minaya!”. And I’ve always said that there’s no way they’ll fire Minaya with three years remaining on his contract. It’s just not happening. He could be the worst GM in baseball (you could make that argument) and they still wouldn’t fire him and eat three years of his contract.

You might want to read Joel Sherman of the NY Post today. It’s the “Bernie Madoff Effect”. The Mets got taken for ride by their good friend Madoff and their real estate business is struggling. They just don’t have the stomach to lose more money on Minaya and replacing the entire front office. Sherman estimates that the cost would approximately $12 million. That may not seem like much by baseball standards, and it’s not for on-field talent. But teams don’t eat that kind of money for the support staff. And that’s a fact!

Citi Field Opens With Seaver And Piazza

Mike PiazzaThere would be no other way to open Citi Field than to have Tom Seaver throw out the first ceremonial pitch to Mike Piazza. Two of the Mets biggest superstars are the only former players that make sense. Sure, Doc Gooden could do it but he had an acrimonious parting with the Mets in 1995. That acrimony is only beginning to subside with his appearance at the Shea Stadium final game last September.

There will be a game tonight at Citi Field. Its somewhat anticlimactic that the opening game in the history of the stadium will come against the lowly San Diego Padres. The scheduling gurus at MLB certainly didn’t do the Mets any favors with this pairing. Why would they pick a team from the west coast with no real ties to the Mets? At least they could have chosen the Los Angeles Dodgers to open Citi Field. The stadium is pratically a shrine to the Dodgers as it is.

Of all of the strange things that Fred Wilpon has done, and there are many things you can criticize him about, choosing Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza to throw out the first pitch was the right thing to do.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Wilpon Allegedly Defrauded

Sterling Equities is reportedly a victim of fraud, allegedly at the hands of Bernard Madoff. Sterling was founded and is managed by New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.

The amount of money lost is unknown but has been reported to be in the $300 million range. The effect on the operation of the Mets is debatable but the Mets issued a statement to the press yesterday:

This news does not affect the day-to-day operations and long-term plans of the Mets organization and the Citi Field project.

You can read a full report on the Ponzi scheme and it’s impact on the Mets from Darren Rovell at CNBC.

My initial thought is that the Mets won’t be impacted because $300 million isn’t a huge sum compared to the annual revenue of the Mets. Plus Sterling Equities is a separate entity from the Mets. If things got really bad, Wilpon and Katz could always sell off pieces of the Mets to minority owners to raise cash. We’ll have to keep an eye on that going forward.

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Fred Wilpon Finally Speaks About Randolph Firing

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon spoke about the firing of manager Willie Randolph and MLB headquarters in Manhattan while attending the Welcome Back Veterans press conference.

He spoke briefly to ESPN Radio after Randolph was fired only to say that it was Omar Minaya’s decision. It’s left a lot of people, including me, wondering why he wouldn’t talk about the situation publicly.

Ken Davidoff of Newsday reports the following from Wilpon:

Wilpon said that Minaya alerted him on Sunday, June 15 that he intended to fire Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first-base coach Tom Nieto, but Minaya wanted to sleep on it. That night, Randolph and his two coaches took the team’s flight to Anaheim.

Asked whether he regretted sending Randolph out West for just one game, Wilpon said, "You can always look over your shoulder and think things like that, but the intent here clearly was to respect Willie. To do it in person. It’s never easy to fire anybody. Omar took a lot of time. We took a lot of time listening to him and thinking about it. He wanted to respect Willie, and that’s what he did."

It looks like he and Minaya are on the same page here, which is good to read. But Wilpon really should have come out earlier to talk about this issue. This turned into such a media circus and the Mets organization was getting killed by every media outlet in the country over their handling of Willie’s firing.

For an owner that has a reputation for being very image conscious about the franchise, it’s suspicious that Wilpon didn’t speak earlier. It almost makes me think that he had to get his story straight before talking publicly about this.

Delgado Benched Tonight, Maybe More

New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado before a Mets/Devil Rays spring training game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Image via Wikipedia

Willie Randolph said prior to tonight’s game that he’s giving Carlos Delgado some time to clear his head. He may sit out tomorrow night as well. Delgado has been killing the Mets for most of this season and last year. He just appears to be “done”. He can’t get around on inside fastballs anymore and frequently can’t get to high pitches.

I have to think that his decision came out of the meeting between Randolph, Omar Minaya, and the Wilpons yesterday. Hopefully, they’re working on a plan for a permanent solution to Delgado’s two year long lack of productivity. Scott Hatteberg, designated for assignment by the Reds today, might be a good start.