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Archive for May 24th, 2011

The last three years haven’t been very kind to Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon, so what’s one more bad day?

Fred Wilpon has seen better days, but the firestorm following recently published comments was not one of them.

In a recent profile in The New Yorker, Wilpon’s rise and (at least temporary) fall as a self-made millionaire were chronicled in impressive detail by staff writer Jeffrey Toobin. However, what gained most notoriety were a handful of unflattering remarks that Wilpon made about his own team and several of its players. Although it is a shame that the enlightening profile was overshadowed by a few off-the-cuff remarks, the reality is, if not for his position as owner of the Mets, there likely would not have been a profile in the first place.

In addition to lamenting the overall poor play of his team, Wilpon also had pointed criticisms about several star players. “He won’t get it,” was Wilpon’s assessment of Jose Reyes’ chances at signing a Carl Crawford-like contract, while David Wright was described as “a really good kid; a very good player; not a superstar”. Not exactly the high praise you’d expect from an organization about its homegrown talent.

Perhaps the greatest criticism, however, was reserved for Carlos Beltran, who also happens to be most Mets’ fans favorite whipping boy. After miming Beltran’s flinching strikeout that ended the 2006 NLCS in response to a question about the Mets being cursed, Wilpon went on to call himself a “schmuck” for signing the centerfielder “based on that one series” (a reference to Beltran’s playoff performance in 2004).

The resultant firestorm stemming from the comments was predictable, if not ironic. Anyone who listens to sports talk or reads the tabloids in New York has likely heard all of Wilpon’s statements repeated countless times. Of course, the people spouting them aren’t the owners of the team.

Instead of debating whether Wilpon should have been so forthright, or even whether his assessments were correct (I happen to think he was wrong on all three: Reyes will get Crawford money; Wright is a superstar; and the Beltran signing wasn’t a bad one), I am more intrigued by the suggestion that the Mets are cursed, particularly as it pertains to free agents.  After all, Wilpon’s sentiments seem to be shared by the entire fan base, which frequently laments the team’s perceived misfortune in free agency.

So, just how poorly have the Mets done in free agency? In order to address that question, let’s first take a look at the Mets major signings since the advent of free agency in 1976. With a few noted exceptions, this list only contains prominent players who signed as a domestic free agent and had previously spent less than a year with the team. In other words, players re-signing after a longer tenure (e.g., Oliver Perez) or before filing for free agency (e.g., Mike Piazza and John Franco) are excluded. (more…)

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