By Rich Coutinho
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Fred Wilpon met with the media this morning in Port St. Lucie and said that he is very optimistic about the team and thinks Terry Collins and his group of players will surprise the critics this season. As many of you know, I agree with that stance but it was nice hearing it from the man that owns the team. There were a bunch of hot topics discussed during the media session that included:

  • What are the finances of the club? After joking with reporters by showing them five dollar bills in his pocket, Wilpon did say he could not comment on the Madoff case or any of team’s financials, but he did say that decreasing the payroll was a decision Sandy Alderson was on board with and fits into his overall philosophy of running a baseball team. He did say that if the team is in contention, there is flexibility to add to it provided that is what Sandy wants to do.
  • How does he feel Madoff case will turn out?   “I can not comment on particulars of the case–but I always feels optimistic. On the notion, Madoff would not affect team finances that was the truth but the civil case changed that. We were talking about a lot of money last year and that dollar level has diminished. I do not want to minimize the lowered amount but I do think the picture will become clearer in the coming months.”
  • Did He Feel Badly Losing Jose Reyes? He said,”Sandy had structured a deal that would get Jose close to $100 million dollars if he achieved certain things like health. I think  Jose is a fine person and did what he thought was best for his family. I wish him well.”
  • On David Wright: It is up to the baseball people but I will say this — you can not meet a finer person and all of us would want our sons to be like that young man.”
  • On Decreasing The Payroll:  “This was clearly a baseball decision. Am I leery of six-year deals? Yes. Is Sandy? You bet. But we all know we’ve been burned by long-term deals. Yes we’ve lowered the payroll but Sandy said from the beginning, he wanted payroll flexibility. We cut dollars that is true but much of that was players who were not producing. That does not mean in the future if Sandy wants one particular player, we won’t do it. Lets’s see how this team plays. My view is your core players come from your system and if you get big-time free agents they should be missing pieces. One thing that is significant to note — Sandy tells me that many teams asked about Lucas Duda and Ike Davis for instance.”
  • On Lowered Expectations: I would love  to stand here and talk about having All Stars at every position but we all know damn well that does not guarantee anything. We may be able to sit here three months or six months from now and these young players may be the core group we could build around. We’ve had high payrolls for a number of years and did not win. The lowered payroll is a baseball decision and the Madoff case has had some effect but lower payroll is, for the most part, a baseball decision.
  • On Minority Owners: “Seven owners have committed and their money is in escrow. We are waiting for three others and at that point, then MLB will finalize approval of all 10.  It will reduce debt and we would have additional ready cash available.”
  • Sandy’s Philosophy:  “We interviewed a lot of fine people but I was tired of throwing money away and not getting success. Something was wrong so we needed change.”
  • Does He Follow Sandy On Twitter?  “No but I think he has a great sense of humor.”

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