Fred Wilpon

What should we make of Fred Wilpon’s comments to the New Yorker?

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I’ll admit that when I read that Wilpon story in the New Yorker this morning my primary focus was what it all meant for his ownership situation and the Madoff mess, but based on the initial response today, it’s clear that the immediate fallout is going to be all about Wilpon’s comments regarding the Mets in general and Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran in particular.

For those who didn’t see, he implied that Reyes is delusional regarding the money he’s going to want as a free agent, of Wright he said he was a very good player, but “not a superstar,” and he slammed both Beltran’s strikeout to end the 2006 NLCS and his contract, which he called himself a “schmuck” for giving him.  Of the Mets in general, he called them “a shitty team.”

I’m of two minds about this.  On the one hand, the owner of the team CAN’T be saying this stuff, especially in New York. Not unless he wants a media firestorm on his hands, which is what he’s clearly in for based on early reaction.  Moreover, this will not go over well in the Mets’ clubhouse because the last thing any player needs or expects is to be ripped by his owner.

On the other hand, is this anything we haven’t heard from Mets fans and the media that covers them?  People have ripped Reyes, Beltran and Wright for years, often in the very same terms Wilpon did. I disagree with much of that criticism, but Wilpon won’t be giving Jose Reyes “Carl Crawford money.”  The Beltran contract wasn’t the best one Wilpon ever game out, even if Beltran (in my view anyway) has made it respectable in an overall sense.  David Wright is great, but he probably isn’t a “superstar” in the way that we tend to think of that term, so that’s not really a slam in my view.

Moreover, if you’re a fan of a “shitty team,” don’t you like it that the owner acknowledges it rather than play the Baghdad Bob routine and pretend that everything is sunshine and daisies? I want my team’s owner to acknowledge my frustration, even if I may take issues with his specific critiques and agree that he shouldn’t be the guy saying this stuff publicly. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Wilpon said that Carlos Beltran’s contract was a bargain, Jose Reyes and David Wright were megastars and if he said that the Mets are fantastic and positioned for greatness?

I’m not defending Wilpon’s decision to say this stuff.  Because yeah, this is going to be a P.R. disaster for Wilpon and no, if I’m in his shoes I don’t say this stuff publicly because there is nothing good that can happen for me or the team if I do. But on some level, I have a better opinion of Wilpon after all of this. P.R. disasters come and go, but an honest glimpse into the mindset of an owner is a rare, rare thing. And I think that there is at least a portion of the Mets’ fan base that will appreciate it, even if it goes over horribly in the short term.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.