One of Bobby Valentine’s least favorite people, the Bergen Records’s Bob Klapisch, as interviewed at MetsGeek.com.
MetsGeek.com: Omar attacked the free agent market, going after arguably the three best players available ” Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado ” while at the same time trying to build around talented young players like David Wright and Jose Reyes. Do you foresee the Mets using this strategy in the future, signing big name talent and combining them with players brought up through the farm system, or was this more a one time deal?
Bob Klapisch: That all really depends on how much money the Mets make available to Omar. It is remarkable, and this goes back to the Duquette discussion, that under Jim Duquette™s administration the Mets were only given an eighty million dollar payroll. Duquette basically had to trim forty million dollars, get rid of bad contracts, and be competitive all at once ” which is a nearly impossible task. Now, under Omar, the Mets™ payroll is suddenly over one hundred million dollars again. Where the Mets got that extra twenty to twenty-five million dollars is a mystery to me. It™s possible that the Wilpons had it and they just decided to let Omar spend it after withholding it from Duquette, or some people theorize that the money is coming from Time Warner and Comcast, to help the run up to the new network next year and to put a competitive and watchable product on the field. Either way, there is money on the table right now, and if you™re willing to spend one hundred million dollars every year, you™ll be able to chase some big name free agents, as well as develop talent. If that™s what the Wilpons are willing to do, then Met fans can look forward to a pretty good team year after year after year. That™s assuming that they make some smart decisions with that money, but first and foremost if there™s money to spend. So, I don™t know if this winter was an aberration or not, I don™t know if it was a one-year spike just to coincide with next year™s network. But if this is a barometer, then there are good things coming down the road for the Mets and Mets fans.
MetsGeek.com: Now, most Mets fans have heard and/or believe that the Mets have built their teams with an eye towards making the back pages, making the splashy signing, competing with the Yankees, etc. How much, if any, impact do you think the New York media has on the Mets™ decision-makers?
Bob Klapisch: Unfortunately, I think it has a lot (laughs). I say unfortunately because I think the Met ownership listens to WFAN a lot, and I do believe that had something to do with Jim Duquette™s dismissal last year, because the criticism over the Kazmir trade was unrelenting. As I said to you before I think they really believed that having Zambrano and Benson would create this pennant race and divert the attention away from Kazmir, and when it didn™t happen, Mike and the Mad Dog just spent the next month killing the Mets, killing Wilpon, killing Rick Peterson, killing Art Howe. Everybody was thrown under the bus, and I do believe that kind of pressure, public pressure, media pressure was more than the Wilpon family could take. Somebody had to take the fall for that. Art Howe was one and Jim Duquette was the other. I™m sorry to say it, but in this case, the Wilpons should have just not listened to the radio. But yes, they do make their decisions based on what they hear, and based on what they think people are thinking.