I don't want to get into the habit of doing this, but one of the reasons I decided to begin writing a blog was because of the long and passionate discussions I would have with other people about baseball. All writers have a healthy dose of narcissism flowing through their veins, and as I would make my points on e-mail threads, message boards or in local bars, I would wonder what people would think of my opinions if I gave them greater exposure.
I'm only getting about 20 to 30 hits a day at this site, but I love that my opinions are now heard by people outside my immediate circle of friends. I love that people sometimes disagree with me and can express a strong and reasoned viewpoint for why they do. I hammered Fred Wilpon at Flushing University this week, which inspired some chatter on the message boards. It gave me a chance to flesh out my arguments against the man a little more.
Fred Wilpon acts as though he's allergic to controversy and goes to enormous lengths to shield himself and the organization from it. I'm of the opinion that Wilpon actually cares more about image than he does about winning.
That's why the Mets don't generally go for "red-asses" or players who bring a flamboyant style to their game. Those who do are told to tone it down (Jose Reyes) or simply traded away (Lastings Milledge). That's why Buck Showalter or Wally Backman would never be hired to replace Randolph - Buck's opinions are too strong and Wally's "past" is too controversial. That's why Wilpon makes sure to stick to slot recommendations instead of signing the best available talent in the amateur draft - he doesn't want his team to make waves with the commissioner's office.
The Mets don't necessarily choose the best people for the job, and this goes for both the paying field and the front office. They go to the type of people that Wilpon is comfortable with. His son is the second-highest ranking person in the organization. That's just classic nepotism, and incredibly it is almost forgivable because I'm not sure what the hell else Jeff would do with his life if Daddy didn't sign the checks. The GM is a nice guy who has been in the organization for years and keeps his nose clean. He usually brings in the type of players that Wilpon likes - quiet, unassuming players who won't end up on Page 6 or get themselves suspended for chewing out an umpire. The manager is a quiet guy who shows little emotion, who was lucky to ever get a major league job in the first place considering the run of rejections he was having. A perfect fit for the Wilpons - Randolph is not someone who's going to challenge them or insist on a certain type of player that might make Fred uncomfortable.
Even the amount of money spent on the payroll is about maintaining image. Fred doesn't want to be seen as cheap, so he opens up the checkbook enough to sign splashy names while still ensuring healthy profits. I'm not foolish enough to say an owner should go into debt to finance a winner, but I'm willing to bet that if the Mets weren't rolling in cash right now the payroll would be low enough to still guarantee a minimum profit.
This is a long-winded way of saying that I expect more from Fred Wilpon. I expect him to bring in the best and most qualified people for every important job in the organization - from the COO down to the fifth outfielder. I expect him to do so without regard for his personal tastes in personalities and to be driven by one goal - winning. I don't believe Fred Wilpon has any intention of ever doing that.