Part two of my interview with David Waldstein, New York Times Mets beat writer.
NYSC: Jason Bay is looking to return from a tough 2010 season, ended early by a concussion. The Met acquired Bay because they believed his hook swing would be more conducive of homeruns in the spacious Citi Field, than Matt Hollidays swing. Do you see Bay gaining back the hook power stroke, because I have talked to guys who say Dave Hudgens is having Bay hit the ball up the middle more, is that good to change Bay after just one year of bad performance?
David Waldstein: I don’t know, this whole working on a new stroke stuff…but, if you look at him in the cage, he has a much crisper, concise swing than he had last year. Not just the swing, the swing is probably the same; it is everything that leads up to the swing, and after the swing. I never really bought the whole ‘Bays swing is ideal for Citi Field’. Unless you hit the ball 460 feet every time you pull it, its not going out! So, Citi Field to me is gaps, line drives, pitching and defense, that’s how you win at Citi Field.
NYSC: The Mets have no money, as we know they received the loan from MLB last November, is this a situation where MLB will step in and seize the Mets, or will the Wilpons sell before it comes to that?
David Waldstein: Yes, I don’t think [Major League Baseball] will seize the team. That is a very rare situation. [The Mets] have a very valuable commodity. The [Montreal] Expo’s were a dubious commodity, as Major League Baseball believed they could no longer exist in Montreal, no one was going to the games, they didn’t have TV. This is the New York Mets, there is a valuable commodity there. Major League Baseball will not have to step in. But the owners more likely than not have to sell at least a substantial part of the team.
NYSC: I have my own little conspiracy theory that General Manager Sandy Alderson was put in place, by Commissioner Bud Selig, in exchange for the loan Major League Baseball gave the Wilpons to cover operating expenses. Is this viable?
David Waldstein: Yeah, that sounds like a reasonable scenario. If it did happen that way, it suggests smart planning on Seligs part. And some fiscal responsibility on the money they are giving them. The money he lent them is really key. The fact they had to go to Papa to borrow money, means they couldn’t borrow from anyone else. It is not just the lawsuit, that is working against them. They are tapped out. They always borrowed a lot based on what they thought was lucrative Madoff accounts. They would use that as collateral to get a new loan. Once Madoff money disappeared, they could get new loans anymore. So eventually they reached the point where they went to MLB. And they have not even been paying salaries since the first week of October, in a few weeks they will need to pay salaries again, and its going to be a lot of money, and the pressure will be on. They will be in trouble, they cant borrow from anyone else.
NYSC: The Mets do not look too good as of now, especially considering the ownership situation, their future is a big question mark. You look around the NL East and see prospects like Heyward and Freeman in Atlanta and Strausburg and Harper in Washington, and the Mets have nothing close to that young talent. To be competitive in the coming years, will the Mets have to spend their way to success? Will they be able to do this with current ownership?
David Waldstein: There are other guys in there system. There is Reese Havens, Jennry Mejia, a pitcher name Familia who throws about 99mph. The problem is, what is the ownership going to be? If the Wilpons continue to hold control of the team, they wont be able to spend any money. And if you don’t spend money, you cant get good prospects because you cant get top draft picks. Look at how much the Nationals have spent on picks Harper and Strausburg. The Mets spent about as much as the Pittsburg Pirates did in the last few years in the draft. They are not spending money in the draft, they will not be increasing the payroll very much, and I am including subtracting somewhere between 50-60 million dollars from this years payroll. The future looks terrible, unless you get some Marc Cuban or someone to come in and buy the team.