Audio: Heyman and Wilpon

Here are a some audio links for you with good information about the Mets off-season plans.

  • Jeff Wilpon joins WFAN’s Mike Francesa to talk about the second Mets collapse, Citi Field, and free agency from October 21
  • Jon Heyman from SI joins Francesa to talk about the World Series, Willie Randolph, and free agents from Oct. 21
  • Heyman again joins Francesa to talk about Jake Peavy, Mets, Yankees, etc. from Oct. 23
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Report: Brewers Interested In Randolph, Valentine, And Johnson

Milwaukee Brewers
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The NY Post is reporting that the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in talking to Willie Randolph about their vacant managerial position. Apparently, Davey Johnson is being considered as well. Bobby Valentine has expressed interest in the Brewers job as part of his quest to return to MLB.

The Brewers have a pretty good team but I’m sure they’ll end up losing CC Sabathia. That’ll take them down a notch. And any potential manager has to be wary that they fired Ned Yost with only two weeks left in the season. That was really odd.

Mike Hargrove and Ken Macha are being interviewed as well as Dale Svuem who took over when Yost was fired.

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Mets 2008 Off-Season Needs: Second Baseman

I think it’s universally agreed upon at this point that one of Mets GM Omar Minaya’s biggest mistakes was signing Luis Castillo to a long term contract. He’s a shell of his former self, with bad knees plaguing his ability to contribute to the Mets. Frequently, during the 2008 season Castillo sat on the bench watching Damion Easley, Argenis Reyes, and even Ramon Martinez start at second.

Castillo just finished the first year of his 4-year/$25 million contract. He received a $1 million bonus when he signed the deal and he’s scheduled to receive $6 million/year thereafter.

If that wasn’t enough to turn your stomach, here’s the bad news: I fully expect Castillo to be the Mets starting second baseman on opening day 2009 in Cincinnati. The reason is 100% financial. I don’t think the Wilpons will be of a mind to eat all or most of Castillo’s contract as has been suggested by some, including one of my favorite writers Matthew Artus.

You don’t need me to give you Castillo’s statistics for 2008 to know he was terrible. I heard you booing him at Shea in September, including when Jerry Manuel benched him just to avoid being treated so harshly by the home crowd. Castillo lost his starting spot during the most important games of the season in September to journeyman Ramon Martinez. Need I say more?

The sad truth is that Castillo isn’t going anywhere. The Mets have too many holes to fill in the free agent market this off-season in the outfield, bullpen, and rotation to eat Castillo’s contract. Billy Wagner’s $10.5 million isn’t covered by insurance because his injury was a pre-existing condition. So the Mets are eating that money already. And don’t forget that they’re paying Willie Randolph $2.25 million in 2009 to watch on his favorite network SNY. They won’t eat another big contract.

The bottom line is don’t get your hopes up about Orlando Hudson or Brian Roberts. The only way that will happen is if the Mets can trade Castillo for another player with a bad contract like the D-Backs’ Eric Byrnes. He’s got $22 million coming to him over the next two seasons. That may be a fit because they’ll need to fill a hole at second base when Hudson leaves. And the Mets need some help in the outfield.

Barring that type of deal, you should expect to see Castillo at second base again next season. I don’t see the Mets eating most or all of his contract.

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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.

Randolph Writes About Being Fired

This is an incredible scoop by the Daily News.  Willie Randolph writes a first person account about his firing by Omar Minaya.  There isn’t that much new that we don’t already know here.  We knew that he was passionate about managing the Mets and that he wants another managerial job.  The only new piece of information that I didn’t already know is this:

I stood up and shook his hand, told him I wished him and the team well. Then he handed me an envelope, a little parting gift, and told me to make sure I reviewed it with my agent, Ron Shapiro.

It was a copy of my Met contract that basically says I better not say anything detrimental about the team, or I might jeopardize the rest of the money I have coming to me.

This is the story that will never end.   I’m really just looking forward to seeing what Jerry Manuel can do with this team and forgetting that the 2007 and early ’08 Mets ever happened.