MLB Commish Talks Wilpons, A-Rod, Pete Rose And More With Joe & Evan


NEW YORK (WFAN) — MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was a guest with WFAN co-hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday afternoon, and he addressed plenty of hot-button issues.

Joe & Evan, both being diehard Mets fans, asked the commissioner what his thoughts are on the club’s financial situation. Over the last few years, the Amazin’s have been heavily criticized for not spending like a big-market franchise.

Manfred made clear his opinion that anger toward Mets ownership is not “fair.”

“I do understand that that undercurrent is out there,” the commissioner told the radio duo. “I really don’t believe it’s fair, however. The most important point is this: At this point in Major League Baseball, I think it’s very, very difficult to go out and make yourself into a winning team overnight by spending money in free agency.

“If you look at the teams that are winning now, they’re teams that have fundamentally sound farm systems; (they) bring along a cohort of players who are effective on the field, and they may add through free agency to get over the top. But it’s really hard to just go out there and rebuild your team by that mechanism.”

The Mets only signed two players — Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. — to major league deals this offseason. And they didn’t acquire a major league player in a trade until Monday, when general manager Sandy Alderson acquired left-handed relievers Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins.

According to ESPN.com, the Mets rank 23rd in the league in payroll.

“I understand that it creates fodder for people to be critical,” Manfred said. “I think adding players comes at the point in time that you’ve built your farm system up and you have a really good core of players on the field. And then it’s effective to spend. I think the Mets have made great progress in terms of the young talent they have.

“And I know, at the point in time that they think it’s appropriate, they will spend to supplement players.”

When asked by Benigno to comment on why the Mets’ situation is different from the Dodgers-Frank McCourt mess, Manfred said, “Mr. Wilpon was a victim of the (Bernie) Madoff scheme.”

The commissioner added that “under the basic agreement, it’s really not the business of central baseball to second-guess payroll decisions by clubs. I am satisfied that the New York Mets have a very strong desire to be successful on the field, and that they’re making decisions directed at being successful on the field.”

QUICK HITS: 

On Alex Rodriguez: “I thought Alex accepted responsibility for a lot of things that happened in that process, and given that he served out what was a very severe penalty — particularly at his age — he was entitled to our support as he attempted to resume his career.”

On potential playoff expansion: “I am really comfortable with where we are in terms of playoff format, (the) number of teams. I do like the one-game wild card. I don’t foresee change in this area. We want to be the most selective sport — we are now — in terms of who makes the playoffs.”

On shortening the season: “I think that if we were to reduce the number of games in the regular season, it would not necessarily be accompanied by an increase in the number of playoff games.”

On the Hall of Fame: “Based on my experience in this area, some players are unfairly painted with this (PED) brush. They never tested positive, they were never proven to use. But people say, ‘Oh, based on his appearance…’ And you cannot make that judgement. You just can’t make a judgement about whether a player was a drug user or not based on his appearance.”

On Pete Rose: “I have absolutely no predisposition on this issue. I think he has a right to file a request for reinstatement, and I think under the Major League (Baseball) Constitution I have an obligation to consider that request and make a decision.”