Everywhere you turned yesterday, the top story, as far as us Mets fans are concerned, was the Mets road show of Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya and Dave Howard. One or all of them appeared at Citi Field where they kicked off their tour, followed by some candid one on ones with various SNY personalities and celebrated New York sports writers. Finally, it was off to their last stop of the evening at WFAN studios in Queens with the king of New York sports talk, Mike Francesa. They were fashionably late.
I know Francesa isn’t the most liked personality within Mets circles, but you have to admit that he pulls no punches and never holds back when he does an interview. There was no shortage of “wow” moments during his one hour long interrogation of the Mets braintrust. He did a fine job of holding their feet to the fire, but easing up and giving them ample time to respond to the criticism. In my opinion, it was a heck of an interview.
I’ve already posted on the Mets potential spending and the Madoff implications, a few times in the last 48 hours so I’ll stay away from that. Suffice it to say that the Wilpons remain committed to spending with no restrictions and their goal is to win a championship in 2010. There were no new revelations during the WFAN interview.
I’m just going to stick to some of the “on the field” issues that I found most interesting.
Daniel Murphy – I could not believe how much time was spent discussing the virtues of the Murph. The most shocking moment of the entire interview came from Omar Minaya who dared to compare Murphy to Kevin Youkilis. It immediately drew the shock and awe of Francesa who proclaimed, “Are you kidding me?!?!” Youkilis is a remarkable fielder, a .400 OBP guy, and proven run producer, how can you even make such a comparison?!?!” A befuddled Minaya than mumbled something before back-pedaling and admitting it was a bad analogy. What Minaya really wanted to say was that plenty of teams have won the World Series without a power guy at first.
I believe the Mets need a bona fide slugger at first base, and that Murphy would be better fit off the bench. Ideally, the Mets should trade him because it won’t be long until until Ike Davis takes over permanently and Murphy will then become a Met without a position which will wipe out any leverage the Mets may have in trading him later as opposed to now. Then of course there’s that old sophomore jinx theory.
First Base – Much of the discussion centered around first base in general where Francesa hammered Minaya on this one very valid point… If you’re not going to get a huge power bat at first base, where else can you possibly do it? Unless of course you have plans on trading one of your core players? Shockingly, Minaya admitted that trading a core player could be one possibility. To which Francesa replied, that would be crazy because all your core players have big question marks and you would only get fifty cents on a dollar. Minaya quickly retreated again. Francesa then blurted, “If you really want to make Mets fans happy, do whatever it takes to get Prince Fielder or that kid in San Diego, Gonzalez.”
Thanks for putting the bug in his ear Mike… Either of those guys would make such a wonderful stocking stuffer…
Power Bat – “You’re a couple of smart guys, right? You do know that this team is not going anywhere without a huge big time slugger in the lineup. Look at the Phillies… They have 45 homers at first base and another 30-something at second base, how can you possibly compete with that?” That line of questioning by Francesa got both Omar and Jeff to admit that finding a power hitter (or two) will be a top priority. Wilpon said that money will not be an issue and that he is leaving it up to Omar to fill that power void the best way that he can.
The only problem I have is my concern that Omar is being given the keys to the kingdom again… I have no doubt that Omar Minaya can spend the Wilpon’s millions, but my big concern is whether Omar can spend those millions wisely. He has yet to prove that he is capable of doing that.
Citi Field – “Why did you build a park that you knew would hurt your core players David Wright and Carlos Beltran. Didn’t you consider the fact you were going to hurt them offensively? Why did you do it?” Seeing Wilpon mumble his way through his answer was amusing, especially when he said that he only did what Omar and Manuel wanted. Omar’s eyes widened and Francesa turned to him. “Umm, umm, ummm, well, uhh, we wanted to build the team around pitching, speed and defense. We were one of the top running teams in the league.” That particular exchange led to this painful moment for Jeff Wilpon,
” I get calls all the time about Citi Field from Mets fans who felt like you slapped them in the face with all the Brooklyn Dodger stuff and lack of Mets stuff.”
(OUCH!) I actually felt sorry for Jeff who said he did not intend to make Mets fans feel like they were slapped. He also said it was a “proper criticism” and there would be some great new additions including a Mets museum that will be prominently located within the park. I’m looking forward to seeing that, but damn it, I still want statues of Tom Seaver and Gil Hodges erected!
Starting Pitching - Shocking as it may seem, Omar Minaya defended his signing of Oliver Perez even when Francesa asked, ”If you had a mulligan would you take back the Oliver Perez deal?” Omar believes Ollie can still pitch like he did in 2007. (That’s scary!) Wilpon mentioned a starting pitcher when he was asked what was one of the Mets top needs, and Minaya agreed that they need to backup Santana, who by the way is doing great and feels fantastic. When Wilpon was asked what he felt the team needed most, without hesitation he said starting pitching. Omar quickly agreed.
Those are just a few of the many things that were discussed. I would urge you to go to WFAN and listen to the entire interview if you have an hour to kill. Eric Simon posted an excellent recap of the entire interview on Amazin Avenue, and Matt Cerrone did a fine job of live blogging the interview on MetsBlog.
I had a problem with something that Mike said. For some reason he seemed to whisk away K-Rod’s terrible second half performance at one point in the interview when discussing returning 2010 players.
“I’m not worried about how K-Rod finished because he wasn’t closing in meaningful games and he’s a competitive guy. He’ll be fine next year”
What the heck does that mean???
Come on Mike, the guy is one of the highest paid closers in baseball, is it too much to expect a big effort every time he gets the call?