Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker has penned a must-read article about Mets owner Fred Wilpon, although at almost 11,000 words you may have to save it for your lunch break. Toobin spent significant time with Wilpon, and also conversed with Bernie Madoff. The article serves as a great primer on Wilpon's rise. A few items within MLBTR's realm:
Wilpon on Jose Reyes on April 20th:
"He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it."
MLBTR's take: We've heard the rumor that Reyes could seek a contract in the seven-year, $142MM range, but it gains credibility coming from the Mets' owner. While it's rare to hear this kind of blunt honesty from a team owner, there's nothing surprising here. Reyes may have raised his stock beyond Crawford's in the month since Wilpon's quote, and a Mets extension has seemed unlikely for some time.
Wilpon on David Wright on April 20th:
"He’s pressing. A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
MLBTR's take: Again, there are plenty of people who consider Wright less than a superstar at this stage in his career, but now we can count the Mets' owner among them. Since Wright can be under team control through 2013, there's not much reason to consider an extension right now anyway.
Wilpon on Carlos Beltran:
"We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series [his 2004 postseason with the Astros]. He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was."
Toobin notes that Wilpon was referring to himself in this quote. I imagine most GMs agree that Beltran is 65-70% of what he was, especially since he's playing right field rather than center. But Wilpon's comment doesn't exactly boost Beltran's trade value.
Wilpon on Ike Davis and the Mets in general on April 20th:
"Good hitter. Shitty team—good hitter."
MLBTR's take: I just thought this was a funny quote coming from Wilpon.
Bernie Madoff on Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz:
"He must feel that I betrayed him, as do most of my friends who were involved. Hopefully, they will understand the pressures I was under. I made money for them legitimately to start, but then I got trapped and was not able to work my way out of it. It just became impossible for me to extricate myself, or even try and extricate myself…Fred and Saul were only guilty of trusting their friend and I will live with that guilt and shame forever."
Toobin feels "there are many levels of self-delusion" in this quote, but it is "relevant evidence" as Irving Picard attempts to prove that Wilpon and his associates just looked the other way in Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
Fred Wilpon on investing money with Madoff:
"We certainly wouldn’t have had five hundred and fifty million dollars invested in something that’s a Ponzi scheme, when you know it can only evaporate at some point. We didn’t know."
For me, this is hard to argue. Toobin notes that as the Mets' risks in the Picard lawsuit far outweigh Picard's, "some kind of settlement seems likely, if not inevitable." For Fred Wilpon's sake, hopefully the sides can agree on an amount closer to the owner's initial $160MM-range expectation rather than Picard's one billion-range figure.