During a chat with Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon answered questions spanning a wide array of topics.
Jun 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson (left) talks with chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon before the start of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
This wasn’t an exclusive or an expose. To recognize Presidents Day, mlb.com interviewed presidents or higher-ups of all 30 big league teams, and Wilpon represented the Mets.
Wilpon spoke highly of general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, and discussed the following topics (among others):
Is 2014 the year the Mets planned to return to being competitive?
I’m not sure why Wilpon spoke in the past tense here, but he stated that “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.”
Did Sandy Alderson have the freedom to increase payroll this offseason?
Wilpon said yes, noting that “there’s always a conversation on it. It’s not something that Sandy can just go out and do whatever he wants, but yes we’ve had multiple conversations, and we’ve had the ability to go after some guys that I don’t think anybody knew we were going after. They didn’t all hit, but we did try, and those all would have expanded the payroll above where we are now.”
The biggest current weakness the Mets have:
Wilpon lamented the lack of close to the majors position players, noting that “the guys we have are a couple years away.”
Reported salary constraints:
When asked point blank if the Mets were ever forbidden from spending a certain amount, Wilpon said flatly that “the bank has never mandated that we can’t do something.”
The pursuit of free agents the club hasn’t landed, including Stephen Drew:
Wilpon noted that “the value that we see in those guys versus what their agents were asking for does not meet.”
On the relatively low payroll:
Wilpon deflected, saying he “would point to the fact that you don’t have to have that kind of payroll to win.”
Do the Mets have a realistic chance to make the playoffs in 2014?
Wilpon pointed to the fact that the Mets played .500 ball over the last 100 games of 2013, and said “If we can do that for the first 100 games of this year instead of the last 100 games, we’ll be in a good spot. So I’d like to see us get to that same spot, if not better.”
Jeff Wilpon doesn’t really have a knack for public speaking, but the alternative option here (refusing to be interviewed while every other club gave interviews) would’ve been worse than saying nothing at all.
Still, there are some answers he gave that will serve to only irritate the fanbase.
For instance, when asked whether the Mets had a realistic chance to make the playoffs, all he had to do was say “yes.” It’s not that difficult to be optimistic during spring training, but Wilpon decided to give a convoluted answer instead.
When asked about how low the payroll was, Wilpon could’ve simply said that the club is prepared to expand the payroll. Instead, he noted that you don’t need a high payroll to win. That’s true, but it’s not the smart answer.
The most analyzed quote Wilpon gave will likely be the one about free agents including Stephen Drew. It’s pretty clear that Wilpon was noting that the club’s perceived value and what Scott Boras (and other agents) are currently asking for doesn’t mesh right now. I’m sure that quote will be taken out of context by many, though.
When it comes down to it, a winning team – and a winning team only – will turn interviews like the one that was published today into afterthoughts.