Report: Wilpons would rather sell Mets than have Jeff run the team

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

The Wilpons’ sudden decision to sell the majority interest in the New York Mets is apparently the result of an internal family squabble that has been going on for years.

With patriarch Fred Wilpon now 83 years of age, the prospect of his heirs running the team in the future must have spooked him into selling rather than have them, son Jeff in particular, squander the family’s prized asset.

In a report from the New York Times, the family feud between Jeff and his brother, Bruce, goes back years and without Fred around to mediate and mitigate, it is feared the franchise would be in incapable hands. Thus, the agreement to have billionaire minority owner Steven A. Cohen increase his stake in the team in increments over the next five years was made.

Form the Times:

With Fred Wilpon, 83, and his siblings aging, their children were increasingly wary of having Jeff Wilpon, their aggressive, short-tempered relative, in charge of the family’s most valuable heirloom. That issue will go away with a deal to sell Cohen 80 percent of the franchise that will give the family a huge profit, considering what the Wilpons paid each time they increased their stake in the Mets.

 

Tensions between Jeff Wilpon and his relatives have been brewing for years. Many of them work with Sterling Equities, the family’s closely held umbrella company, but the baseball team, which last won a World Series in 1986 — before the family took full control — was largely Jeff’s domain.

 

For years, some family members have questioned his choices behind the scenes.

The disdain for Jeff goes back even before the Wilpons took control of the team from partner Nelson Doubleday in 2002.

During the years he controlled the team, Nelson Doubleday had insisted that neither his children nor Wilpon’s have a role within the team. Insiders at the time said it was well known that the purpose of the rule to was exclude Jeff Wilpon, who had played baseball at Palm Beach State College and was even drafted twice by major league organizations.

 

“Doubleday was very hard on Jeff,” one executive said.

Met fans can thank Fred for his foresight. Had he not made the choice to sunset his family’s interest out of Flushing, the fans would have been subject to an unfettered era of Jeff running the team with no governor to control him.

Now, we don’t know what kind of owner Cohen will be, but we do know he is a genuine billionaire without the entanglements Fred had (see Madoff) but he also doesn’t come with a pristine past. Cohen was slapped with a $1.8 billion fine in 2013 for insider trading.

NYC Baseball: Mets’ sale puts Yankees on notice

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

The New York Yankees have owned the baseball market in New York City for the past quarter decade. Their five World Championships to their crosstown rival New York Mets’ none says it all. The Yankees are approximately worth twice as much as the Mets as a result ($4.6 billion to $2.3 billion) but that should  be changing now that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has agreed to buy controlling interest in the Mets from the Wilpons.

Cohen grew up a Mets fan (not a Dodgers fans like Fred Wilpon) in Great Neck and won’t sit idly by while the top free agents land in the Bronx, Boston, L.A. and other destinations. The Wilpons’ financial troubles (see: Madoff) have been well documented and without question have precluded them from acting as a major market franchise.

From the New York Post:

A person who had seen the email expects Cohen’s financial influence to be felt immediately, saying, “He grew up a Mets fan [in Great Neck]. He went to games in the Polo Grounds. He has deep pockets. He is a passionate fan. If I were a Met fan, I would expect that means more money [for payroll].”

 

He who controls the purse strings controls the kingdom — not someone with titles. And if Cohen is approved by the other owners — likely but no slam dunk because of his past ties to insider trading — he will control the purse strings.

 

There are no guarantees how someone will run a team and whether they will be a good owner or a bad owner once they actually are in charge. But what would shock — absolutely shock — those spoken to in the aftermath of the news that Cohen is intending to go from a minority Met owner to owning 80 percent or more of the team is that he will squeeze pennies and play to the worst of the Wilpon stereotype. The expectation is the Mets will join the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox among the major league payroll leaders, perhaps not in 2020, but soon.

Of course, money doesn’t always equate to happiness but it doesn’t hurt. It will all depend on who is making the baseball decisions. There has been no rumblings on whether the front office will be affected in the near future but you can bet the Mets will become a proactive organization under Cohen, not a reactive one.

Mets Fans Get Holiday Gift: Wilpons to Sell Majority Share of the Team

New York Mets fans are doing cartwheels down 126th Street this afternoon as the news broke that the Wilpon family is in negotiations to relinquish as much as 80 percent of their share of the club to billionaire Steve Cohen, who is already a minority share holder.

Bloomberg News is reporting that “the transaction would value the team at $2.6 billion, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The Mets confirmed the talks in a statement…Fred Wilpon, the team’s principal owner, will remain in his current role for at least five years, at which time Cohen will have a path to controlling the franchise, said the person. Jeff Wilpon, his son, will remain as the team’s chief operating officer for the five-year period, the person said.”

From the Mets:

The Sterling Partners and Steve Cohen are negotiating an agreement in which Steve Cohen would increase his investment in the New York Mets. As part of that agreement, Fred Wilpon will remain in the role of the Control Person and CEO for five years and Jeff Wilpon will remain in his role of Chief Operating Officer for the 5 year period as well. Steve Cohen will continue as CEO and President of Point72 Asset Management and his stake in the Mets will continue to be managed by his family office, Cohen Private Ventures.

So, the Wilpon’s stranglehold on the Mets will soon be over and with it could be the small-minded, small-market philosophy that has held the team back from competing with the Yankees, Dodgers, Braves, Cubs and others for top free agents.

New York Mets: A Clearer Timeline

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

The New York Mets managerial search now has five names instead of the original four. The original crew of Derek Shelton, Tim Bogar, Eduardo Perez and Carlos Beltran are joined by Pat Murphy. The organization hopes to have a name selected by the time the GM meetings start on November 11.

With the Royals officially hiring Mike Matheny on Thursday, the Mets are one of three teams who still need a manager. With free agency quickly approaching, the Mets would be better served to select their candidate in time for the team to make some moves.

Owners in On the Manager

Putting Fred Wilpon in the interview process should be very telling of how the organization works. This third round of interviews will likely be surrounded around what Wilpon wants to ask. If everyone in the room likes a candidate, but the Wilpons do not, the candidate will not get the job.

Unfortunately, just like a big business, the top guy has the final say. In this case the everyone answers to the Wilpons and we know how power hungry they are. Judging by the lack of success over their time as owners, the Wilpons have been wrong way more than they have been right.

Since Davey Johnson was fired in 1990 the Mets have gone through 10 managers. Only two of them lasted at least four full seasons. The Mets roster is full of talent now and the man they select for the job has to be the one who finally guides this team to a championship.

New York Mets: The Third Round of Interviews

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

While half the teams searching for managers have made hires already, the New York Mets are conducting their third round of interviews to find their next leader. The list of names was cutdown between rounds one and two, but barely changed for round three. They still feature Eduardo Perez, Tim Bogar, Carlos Beltran, Luis Rojas. Pat Murphy‘s name emerged as a mystery candidate over the weekend, but it is unknown if he is receiving a third interview.

Murphy has been the Brewers bench coach since 2016 and spent 20 years coaching college baseball. He came to the major leagues in 2010 where he was working throughout the Padres organization. He managed them to a 42-54 record in 2015 after Bud Black was let go. The still unknown “bombshell candidate” is still in play as well.

These interviews will feature Fred Wilpon, it what seems like the boss battle in a video game. The Mets interview process is one of the most extensive in baseball and rightly so after Mickey Callaway’s time as a Met was a disaster.

Manager Interviews or March Madness

At this point, we may need bracketology to keep track of the remaining candidates. It is a good sign to see the Mets go this far for their candidates though. It is better for them to be thorough than to pick anyone…even though Joe Girardi was the right man for the job.

What continues to make the dynamics of these interviews interesting is the amount of involvement the front office likes to have. At times during Callaway’s tenure, it seemed like he was stuck with whatever in game decisions they wanted. Since we do not know the questions from the interview, the power of the next manager is up to speculation.

When the season begins, we will receive a better idea. If the team is managed the same way as Callaway, it will be obvious the front office has control. Potential managers like Perez and Rojas have plenty of experience and should deserve the ability to manage the game without the front office’s hand up you know where.

New York Mets: Jeff Wilpon’s Power Struggle

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

Stop me if you have heard this one before…Jeff Wilpon wants full control over the New York Mets decisions. The COO of the organization looks to hire a manager who falls in line. Instead their aim should be a manager who will do things their own way.

This does not rule out the possible hiring of Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter, which is why they are still receiving interviews. Both managers are guys who want to run the team their own way and leave the front office out of their decision making. This was part of the reason why the Yankees let Girardi go because they wanted someone who would know their place in the organization.

First Year Managers Only?

It is hard to think any veteran manager will simply fall in line with what Wilpon/Brodie Van Wagenen want. Much like Mickey Callaway they will take a chance on a manager without any experience who will follow what he is told. If this is the case, expect another year(s) of futility from the Mets.

This has been the issue since the Wilpons took control of the Mets. Everything has to be done their way and no World Series championships in the last 33 years should show that this is not working. Jeff and Fred Wilpon never worked in baseball outside of owning the team and their baseball opinions are just as good as someone you find on the street. They are single handedly killing their own franchise and their idea that they know best will continue to hold back the franchise.

As the list of candidates settle, the manager who will not be a “yes man” deserves the job. Girardi/Showalter and a potential future hall of famer in Carlos Beltran do not fit that mold. The selected manager will be very telling of what the future of the team will be.