He may appear that way, but Fred Wilpon is not a calm person. He sweats on the inside. He revealed a bit of himself at yesterday’s press conference when he spoke with passion about his team.
As he reaches ownership twilight, it is time for Wilpon to let his inner side out a bit more often. The fan base needs to know he cares as much as he says he does. That will manifest itself in hiring the right general manager.
Wilpon’s anger is usually under control. He’s the opposite of the very public outrage that was often displayed by George Steinbrenner. What the two shared in common was performing good deeds away from the public arena. Whatever Wilpon lost to Bernie Madoff was probably exceeded by his charitable endeavors over the years.
But that’s not baseball business.
Wilpon was angry yesterday. As angry as he gets. He is frustrated that a big payroll has yielded paltry results with his team. Now, he will start all over, just as he did when he promised a winning team for Mets fans when he and Nelson Doubleday took over 30 years ago.
Wilpon is conservative by nature, deliberative perhaps to a fault but that will not serve him well at the moment. The Mets need a radical overhaul -- the baseball term is "blowing up" the team. Wilpon needs to be on board with that.
There can be no untouchable players on a franchise in this disarray.
The general manager in baseball is generally viewed as an architect, one who builds franchises by obtaining the right parts. The Mets need someone who can first deconstruct the team. Job One is telling ownership that certain players must go, regardless of the financial commitment. Day One is committing to removing Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo from the roster. It will be the best $18 million Wilpon ever lost.
At the same time, it must be made clear that management runs the players, not the reverse. If Carlos Beltran is hurt or annoyed because Angel Pagan is a better defensive centerfielder, Beltran will have to deal with that. Or be dealt.
The new GM also has to address the fallacy of the Mets having core players. That term belongs to winning teams. The Mets have no core or franchise players. David Wright is the team’s best player, but he’s certainly expendable. They can finish out of the race with or without him. Ditto Jose Reyes.
In a true rebuild, you can’t start over from the middle.
The fans have expressed their outrage by leaving seats empty in the second year of Citi Field. Wilpon and his son acknowledged the fans’ discontent by adding their own.
Now that everyone has spoken with one voice, Wilpon just needs to lead the chorus.