Anthony DiComo covers the Mets for MLB.com, he sat down with Jeff Wilpon the other day to get a State of the Mets report. Here are some highlights with my commentary in italics.
MLB.com: This is a Mets club that has not seriously competed for a playoff spot in six years, but that has a strong farm system and signed several big league free agents this winter. What’s your take on the current state of the Mets?
Jeff Wilpon: I think we’re in a better state than we’ve been, and we’re ready to move forward with the plan that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] put in place three years ago. This is going into the fourth season of his plan, and we’re primed to take advantage of that.
How long have we been hearing this answer from Jeffey and the other movers and shakers in the organization? Primed to take advantage of what? No one looks at this Mets team as a serious contender for post season play, so what exactly is the team primed for?
MLB.com: Was this the year that you and the front office pointed to all along for a return to competitiveness?
Wilpon: We try to be competitive each of the years we go out on the field. I don’t think any player would ever tell you they don’t try to be competitive. But because of some of the expiring contracts and some of that freedom, just by virtue of this being the year all that was going to happen, you hoped this would also be the year some of our young talent would come into its own.
Remember last year the big push was for a 3rd place finish so what is the prime goal this year an 81-81 record? Think like a loser and a loser you shall be. This is my main problem with the brain trust of the Mets all the talk is about being “competitive”. When do they start putting the emphasis on “winning”? When does management start putting the heat on the manager, coaches and players that anything short of a playoff spot is an unadulterated failure?
MLB.com: How about manager Terry Collins?
Wilpon: We extended Terry’s contract, so we’re very happy with him — with his energy and his relationships with the players and making guys get better, which is always a good thing. There have been a bunch of guys Sandy’s brought in on Minor League contracts and put them out there, and they’ve performed. You can go through a pretty long list the last couple years, and not only do Sandy and his staff get credit, but Terry and his staff get credit for making them really usable pieces. Some of them we’ve traded and gotten back fruit from those trades as well.
In Collins’ 3 years as Mets manager the team record is 225-261 .463 winning percentage. I wish Jeffey mentioned this long list of players that Collins and his staff made into better ballplayers? Sure Marlon Byrd revived his career as a Met but how much did Collins and hitting coach Dave Hudgens have on his success? The rumor was Byrd contradicted the approach on hitting that the organization preaches. Why did it take a trip to Las Vegas and working with Wally Backman and George Greer to get Ike Davis finding his way somewhat at the plate? Collins still hasn’t grasped the way to run a bullpen and at times seems timed in letting starting pitchers go further in games.
I’ll give Collins this much, he has more than vindicated himself as a manager from his other posts in Anaheim and Houston. He has never lost control of the clubhouse and he handles the media well, but it also helps the writers who cover the Mets never challenge him.
MLB.com: What is your response to fans who wished you had done one or two more things this winter, such as sign free agent shortstop Stephen Drew?
Wilpon: If those one or two things were there, we would have expanded the budget for them. Just to get a guy because the fans think that’s the right thing to do, that’s not part of the plan. Sandy’s not going to overspend for something he doesn’t see value in. The value that we see in those guys versus what their agents were asking for does not meet.
Ummmmmmm… when you’re having a tough time selling tickets is it wise not to tweak the fans/paying customers like that? If you want to take people to task over the Stephen Drew frenzy blame your incumbent shortstop, the GM and the manager because they have fed the beast. Alderson and Collins have called Ruben Tejada out in the media and the fans eyes don’t lie when watching Tejada and reading his stat line that an upgrade at shortstop in needed.
Sure Drew/Boras are playing hardball here and I have no problem with Alderson staring them down but let’s face facts here it’s not just Mets fans who feel that Drew would be a major upgrade at short for the team but the majority of baseball talent evaluators feel the same way as well.
MLB.com: There’s a perception out there that your payroll is well below what a big-market team should spend.
Wilpon: I would point to the fact that you don’t have to have that kind of payroll to win.
Answer the question Jeffey, that’s not an answer.
MLB.com: How difficult has it been for you and ownership to go through the past half-decade without winning nearly as much as you’d like?
Wilpon: We’ve all hoped to do better, but as I think I’ve explained in the past, hope isn’t a good business plan. Hope hasn’t gone as far as we’ve liked, but I think we have more certainties this year than we’ve had in the past, so there are fewer things to hope on. But any team that goes out there hopes for a good season, hopes to stay healthy and hopes some of the young kids can contribute. We’re in the same position.
I hope it doesn’t snow today. I hope I get a seat on the subway. I hope the burrito I had for lunch doesn’t give me heartburn. HOPE. Successful sport teams don’t run on hope they run on the mindset that they are here to win. Again that is a big problem with this organization, no one in authority demands winning. It’s that kind of attitude that produces players like Ruben Tejada and Jordany Valdespin. Look how long it took for the organization to rid itself if the malcontent Valdespin. Even with sending Tejada to conditioning camp in Michigan where is the competition for the shortstop job? If the team is serious about having Wilmer Flores get work at shortstop then go for it. Don’t half ass it put the challenge to Tejada.
Okay I’m done go back to looking at Twitter and Instagram at pictures of players having a catch and stretching. Whatever gets you though the winter I guess?