On October 4th, after the conclusion of the worst season in the Omar Minaya era, Jeff Wilpon appeared with Minaya and Dave Howard on WFAN with Mike Francesa.
When Wilpon was pressed by Francesa to spell out specifically what he would do differently in 2010, Wilpon responded as follows:
“Obviously, mistakes were made with respect to how player injuries were handled. There was a lot of miscommunication, especially with injuries that occurred on the road. We need to do a better job with how the recommendations were handled from our doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery.”
Wilpon said that the team will do a better job of getting everyone in the front office on the same page with regard to how injured players were being handled. He also emphasized that he “will change their medical protocols” to help limit injuries in the future, and that he will “personally see to it” that the team does a better job of communicating injuries to the media.
In his very first test of 2010, Jeff Wilpon has failed to deliver on any of the promises he made to Mets fans a little over three months ago.
His inability to do the right thing and fire Omar Minaya, may have been the catalyst for the recent public relations nightmare surrounding the team’s best player, Carlos Beltran. His decision to micro-manage Minaya and control every facet of his responsibilities has just blown up in his face.
Furthermore, the apparent lack of communication and coordination between the medical staff, the head trainer, the general manager, the assistant general manager and the COO of the Mets was appalling and disgraceful at best. In fact, it was an epic fail.
Here are the facts…
It was quite obvious that Omar Minaya was not in the loop while Wilpon, Howard and Ricco were scurrying around trying to delay the surgery. While they frantically attempted to find a doctor to get a third opinion, their GM (in name only) Omar Minaya was on the phone wishing Carlos Beltran good luck with his knee surgery in the morning. Can you believe that? How in God’s name was Minaya left out of the loop? He was absolutely oblivious to the fact the rest of the front office was trying to put the brakes on the procedure.
On the morning of the surgery, Mets Trainer, Ray Ramirez signed and faxed all the necessary forms to Colorado for the surgery to go forward that morning at 7:00 AM. Without these signed insurance forms the surgery could not take place that morning. Not only was the surgery done with the signature and approval of a Mets employee, but the entire procedure was approved and paid for by the Mets insurance company.
According to Dr. Steadman who performed the surgery, he was in constant communication with the Mets medical director David Altchek, who agreed with Steadman’s recommendation that he have surgery. Altchek left off with Dr. Steadman that he would relay the information to the Mets that Beltran would be having surgery in the morning. The Mets say they never knew, but that doesn’t ring true. They had to know. Why would they later mention that they wanted to get a third opinion, unless they already had the opinions of both their Medical Director and Dr. Steadman?
During the conference call, Assistant GM John Ricco, refused to elaborate on the discussions both Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya had with Scott Boras in the 24 hours preceding the surgery. He would only acknowledge that there were phone calls made, but that he wasn’t on those calls. So why not wait until Omar Minaya was available to have the conference call? And even though both Minaya and Wilpon were In Arizona, why couldn’t they participate from there? It was reported that they were on a plane during the 2:00 PM conference call, but it was later revealed that they did not board their plane until four hours later at 6:00 PM.
If they were going to levy these unsubstantiated charges against their star centerfielder, and if they are as committed to better communication as they said they would be, why weren’t the principal parties in those phone calls on that conference call to answer the important questions?
Why did the Mets go out of their way to make such a public spectacle of this even going so far as to simulcast the conference call live on SNY to gain the widest possible reach they could?
The conference call answered no questions and raised hundreds more. Not only were we not able to get the details of the phone calls between Minaya, Wilpon, Boras and Beltran, but John Ricco refused to elaborate on the legal aspects that the entire call was centered around. They wanted the world to know that they were invoking their legal rights under the terms of the contract, but they refused to tell us the whos, whats, wheres and whens. Is this the better communication they spoke of?
Finally, why the big delay? Last night, Mets third baseman David Wright wondered why Beltran would have the surgery now?
It’s a good question, but Wright pointed it at the wrong person (most likely under the Mets tutelage).
On December 3rd, Carlos Beltran was in New York to get an MRI on his ailing knee again. It was immediately discovered that there was loose cartilage and bone fragments caused by a degenerative disease known as osteo-arthritis. On December 13th the pain worsened and another MRI showed even more deterioration in the knee. He was told to “ramp down” his workouts. Beltran instead wanted a second opinion and he got permission to see Dr. Steadman who had treated him last season. It was determined that he would most likely need surgery to clean it up. Almost a month laster, a subsequent trip to Colorado this past Tuesday, only confirmed that original diagnosis which was also echoed by the Mets Medical Director.
To answer David Wright’s question “why now?”, the Mets already knew of this serious condition on December 3rd and yet their plan was to wait. It was a plan that was doomed to failure. Bone fragments, bone spurs and torn cartilage does not go away with “ramping down your workouts” as the Mets advised him. If his knee got this bad due to some light pre spring training workout regimen, what did they expect would happen with the full throttle rigors of spring training? Is this the better way of handling medical information that they promised back in October?
Could it be that the Mets suppressed that information for over a month so that they could sign Jason Bay without giving the player any further leverage in the negotiations? In the meantime they withheld the staggering news that their centerfielder’s knee was deteriorating rapidly. Is this their improved way of communicating player injury updates to the media as they promised in October?
The Mets have become their own worst enemies. Problems like this happen to all teams, but none of them compound their problems in the unbelievable way that the Mets do. The more they try to fix the problems, the greater the problems become. I’ve never witnessed a more colossal scale of ineptness and incompetence, as I’ve witnessed with the Mets in the last three years.
The Mets are an absolute disaster right now.