NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Frank Robinson knows what it’s like to manage a team under financial turmoil. He took over the Montreal Expos in 2002, a team that, while owned by Major League Baseball, appeared headed toward contraction.
Robinson believes the Mets will have a rough season trying to deal with countless stories and speculation regarding the franchise’s finances.
“My players were jaded by the time I got there, because they had been hearing rumors about the team for a few years,” he told The New York Post on Monday. “For the Mets, it’s all new. It’s going to be a distraction.”
The paper quotes Robinson as saying he didn’t give the Expos a “big message or a rah-rah thing” because there’s “nothing they could do about it.”
“They’re going to have to deal with questions they can’t answer and don’t even know about,” Robinson said. “They’re going to be asked about it wherever they go, so they’d better get used to it.”
The club’s embattled owners recently filed legal papers disputing a court trustee’s claim that they owe more than $1 billion because they should have known their investments with Madoff were fraudulent.
“It’s a much larger problem than we had in Montreal because it’s ongoing and it deals personally with their ownership,” Robinson said, “since a lot of them know the Wilpon family.”
In January, Wilpon and his son, Jeff, announced they were looking into selling up to 25 percent of the franchise because of “uncertainty” caused by the lawsuit.
Fred Wilpon has said that sale of a controlling interest of the team is “not on the table” and has assured fans the team will have the resources to be competitive. No matter how they’re playing, Robinson thinks, the players are going to hear about it.
“They’re gonna hear it from the loudmouths in the stands and are going to get barbs all the time,” said Robinson. “It’s going to be a difficult season.”
According to Robinson, you can try to calm the players’ nerves, but they’ll still be nagged by questions.
“In 2002, I talked about the situation with my team before spring training and again before the regular season,” he said. “But it’s not that simple. You don’t keep it off their mind, because you can’t.”
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