53° Good Afternoon
53° Good Afternoon

The Wilpons' news conference

Apologies for the tardiness. Work, work, work. Anyway, I'm still here at Citi Field.

Did you see the Wilpons' news conference? What did you think? I thought they did everything they could have done today with words. They took accountability, stressed that they suffer along with the fans when the team plays poorly, said that they were open to any and all suggestions to make the team better. Even hinted, strongly, that lower ticket prices would be lowered for 2011.

I thought it was particularly important that Fred Wilpon appear. This perception has persisted that Fred Wilpon was completely out of pocket for these past few years. Even worse, thanks to moments like this one, was the notion that he was pulling a George Steinbrenner-esque fade. As you saw (if you saw it), he is still extremely sharp and involved, and he spoke more expansively on the Bernie Madoff mess than he ever has since it occurred.

Now, as we know, the words hold minimal value, especially given the Wilpons' hiring history. We need to see who the hire is. And we need to make sure that the Wilpons understand they really need to change the entire organizational culture.

When I asked them, looking back on Omar Minaya's run, whether they blamed more of it on the culture that Minaya helped establish or on his actual baseball moves, Jeff Wilpon responded: "I think some of the free agent singings and turning out the way they did, and the money we misspent, is probably the biggest piece of it." 

Yes, maybe the Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo contracts handcuffed the Mets - and FWIW, the Wilpons insisted that Minaya never actually came to them and asked to release those players. But if that's the case, then Minaya probably just felt too defeated by that point to even ask. And that's a cultural thing. The Wilpons have to improve on acknowledging sunk costs.

As for the candidates...the Mets haven't reached out to former Arizona GM Josh Byrnes yet. My early hunches, from speaking to people, are that Tampa Bay's Gerry Hunsicker will not be a serious candidate (Hunsicker pretty much told that to the Wall Street Journal), while Sandy Alderson may very well be interested. He does like New York.

One friend of Terry Ryan's thought the longtime Twins GM would intrigued by the challenge of working on a larger canvas. I think White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn will be interested, also.

Plenty more to come this month. The Mets intend to have this done by the start of the World Series, so we're talking about a roughly three-week process.

--David Lennon is reporting that the Mets coaches most likely to stay on the new staff are pitching coach Dan Warthen and third-base coach Chip Hale. Warthen's pitchers overachieved, while Hale scored points with his work ethic.

--Switching abruptly over to the Yankees, from speaking with people, I think they will indeed go with a three-man starting rotation (no shocker there), and start Andy Pettitte in Game 2 and Phil Hughes in Game 3. NaOH brought up the excellent point that Hughes, as an extreme flyball pitcher, would benefit from pitching Game 2 in pitcher-friendly Target Field.

But Pettitte should be able to better neutralize the Twins' lefty bats, and the bottom line is that the Yankees like the idea of Pettitte pitching Games 2 and 5 more than Hughes doing the same. 

This, at least, is the way the Yankees are leaning right. If they change their minds and go with Hughes in Game 2 and Pettitte in Game 3, I'll deny ever having written any of this.

--Meanwhile, the Twins' Justin Morneau is out for the entire postseason.

--Have a great night.



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