Mets discuss Wilpon’s frosty comments

Mets manager Terry Collins delivered a simple message to his
team before its first game since owner Fred Wilpon’s frosty
comments about three of the club’s biggest stars were
published.

Focus on what you can control.

”Fred Wilpon loves this team with all his heart and I know
that,” Collins said following the brief meeting, ”so we’re just
going to rally together and win as many games and play as well as
we can play.”

Collins and the Mets returned to the field Tuesday night for the
first time since The New Yorker posted a profile of Wilpon on its
website that contained some sharp criticism of David Wright, Jose
Reyes and Carlos Beltran – the latest in a long line of mishaps for
the stumbling franchise.

The manager said the meeting was planned before the profile of
Wilpon put the Mets on the back page of New York tabloids for all
the wrong reasons again. But the message was going to be about
continuing to play the game the right way through a rash of
injuries that put Wright and first baseman Ike Davis on the
disabled list.

It turns out there was plenty to talk about.

”You don’t want to be in this situation, but it is what it
is,” Beltran said. ”We’re all professionals here. Like I say, all
I’m looking for is to turn the page, go forward and play
hard.”

Beltran and Reyes spoke to Wilpon on a speakerphone in Collins’
office in the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field, and a spokesman
for the team said he was trying to reach Wright, who flew to Los
Angeles on Monday to get his injured back examined by a
specialist.

Most of The New Yorker article deals with Wilpon’s upbringing in
Brooklyn, his real estate business and his relationship with
Bernard Madoff. But the owner really let loose during New York’s
4-3 loss to the Houston Astros on April 20, when the Mets dropped
to 5-13.

Sounding a lot like the team’s frustrated fan base, Wilpon
disparaged the Mets’ play, called the franchise ”snakebitten,”
and made a couple of stinging comments about three key players.

– On the oft-injured Reyes, who can become a free agent at the
end of the season, and speculation he could be in line for a big
new deal: ”He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,”
Wilpon said. ”He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get
it.”

Crawford signed a $142 million, seven-year contract with the
Boston Red Sox last winter.

”The only thing I can control right now, like I said before, is
continue to play,” Reyes said. ”You know he’s the boss. He can
say whatever he wants to.”

– On Beltran: ”He’s 65 to 70 percent of what he was,” Wilpon
said.

”I feel that right now what is important is I’m healthy and I’m
back playing,” Beltran said. ”I’m enjoying the game. I don’t feel
70 or 65, I feel 100 percent and I’m glad that I’m here helping
this team.”

– On Wright, a five-time All-Star third baseman and the face of
the franchise: ”A really good kid. A very good player. Not a
superstar.”

Wright, who didn’t travel with the team to Chicago, released a
statement though his agent Monday calling Wilpon ”a good man” who
is ”obviously going through some difficult times.”

Wilpon is facing a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by a court
trustee seeking to recover money for victims of the Madoff Ponzi
scheme. The Mets received a loan from Major League Baseball in
November to help cover expenses, and Wilpon and his son, Jeff, are
looking into selling part of the team.

”Obviously, there’s a lot more factors going on here than just
an owner of a baseball team,” outfielder Jason Bay said. ”There’s
a lot of things that we don’t even know about, so I can’t pretend
to know and then pretend to speculate on what’s going to happen.
Like I said, it’s just kind of an unfortunate turn of events.”

While the Mets were processing Wilpon’s comments to The New
Yorker, another interview with the owner also included some
revealing statements – comments that could have a more far-reaching
impact on the club’s future.

Wilpon told Sports Illustrated the team is ”bleeding cash” and
could lose up to $70 million this year. He also said the team might
slash the payroll next year, and there could be an agreement within
three weeks to sell a minority share of the team.

That puts the future of Beltran, in the final season of a $119
million, seven-year contract, and Reyes in question for the rest of
the season.

”Honestly, I’m not worried about that because it’s not in my
hands until they approach me and tell me that they want to trade me
or whatever,” Beltran said. ”But right now, like I said, I’m just
concentrating on trying to help this team.”