Wilpon says Minaya remorseful
NEW YORK -- A top New York Mets executive acknowledged Tuesday that general manager Omar Minaya made a mistake by singling out a reporter during a bizarre news conference, and put the GM on notice.
"Ownership is not happy with the direction of the team," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said before the game against Colorado.
Minaya held a messy news conference Monday to announce the firing of his longtime friend and vice president of player development Tony Bernazard. Minaya questioned the motives of a local beat writer who had written stories critical of Bernazard -- Minaya said the writer had "lobbied" him for a job.
"He was just very angry and got out of his normal mode of dealing with the media," Wilpon said. "Going into that press conference, it was to talk about Tony, talk about letting him go."
"I can only apologize from the club's point of view," Wilpon said.
Wilpon said Minaya remained "visibly shaken" and was not available to comment.
"I think he really understands he made a very large mistake here. He apologized to ownership, he apologized to the staff," Wilpon said. "Omar has told me he's remorseful about what he said."
Bernazard was dismissed after Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News had written stories about the executive's volatile behavior. Rubin denied that he had asked Minaya for a job and said he had merely sought career advice.
"I was flabbergasted," Rubin said Monday. "This was absolutely startling."
Wilpon said that Rubin had also asked him for career advice and that he had put him in touch with some of his contacts in baseball and television. Wilpon added that he often gives advice about careers in baseball and real estate and does not believe that Rubin did anything wrong.
The Mets came into the season with expectations of challenging for the NL East title, but a brutal string of injuries to star players Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Gary Sheffield and Carlos Beltran has left manager Jerry Manuel plugging holes for much of the season.
Manuel maintained that the front-office turmoil was not a distraction and said that he has not addressed his club about the situation.
"I don't get involved in that," Manuel said. "I don't really have enough time to entertain all these things. My job of managing 25 men keeps me busy enough."
Minaya had come under fire even before the awkward dismissal of Bernazard for the team's poor performance this season. Among the chief criticisms is that Minaya has not done an effective job of building up the minor league system to fill in when players went down with injuries.
The Mets' two top affiliates -- Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A Binghamton -- are both struggling. Buffalo owns the worst record in the International League and Binghamton began play Tuesday night last in its division with the Eastern League's second-worst record.
"I think our minor leagues are in good shape," Wilpon said, adding: "Omar is the face of this organization when it comes to the overall direction of the team."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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