- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon takes pointed shots at some of his marquee players in an extensive article in The New Yorker mostly designed to highlight his rags-to-riches tale.
The embattled owner, who became ensnared in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and is now being sued for more than $1 billion by the trustee trying to recover funds for Madoff victims, tells the magazine:
• Shortstop Jose Reyes will not be getting a super-huge contract from the Mets. "He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money," Wilpon says, referring to Crawford's seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. "He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."
• On right fielder Carlos Beltran, Wilpon mentions Beltran's huge postseason with the Houston Astros in 2004 and says, referring to himself: "We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's 65 to 70 percent of what he was."
• About David Wright, Wilpon said: "Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
• On whether the franchise might be snakebit, Wilpon makes another pointed Beltran reference. Author Jeffrey Toobin writes:
"At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, 'You mean' -- and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat. Any Mets fan (I am one) would understand the reference. The Mets took the 2006 National League Championship Series to a seventh game against the Cardinals."
In the game Wilpon refers to, Beltran took a called third strike from Adam Wainwright to end it.
Wilpon apparently does like first baseman Ike Davis.
"Good hitter," Wilpon says of Davis. "S----- team. Good hitter. ... We're snakebitten, baby."
Reached by ESPNNewYork.com by email, Wright commented on Wilpon's statement:
"Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times. There is nothing more productive that I can say at this time."
Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, also responded to Wilpon's assessment.
"This is not the Fred that I know," Boras said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. "Generally, my opinion is that successful organizations, their evaluations, their thought processes about their organization, it's best if it remains internal and confidential."
In a statement, the Mets said: "We are handling the matter internally."
Madoff offers Wilpon endorsements in the article, trying to absolve the Mets ownership family of knowledge of the Ponzi scheme.
The disgraced Madoff wrote Toobin in an email: "Fred was not [at] all stock market savvy and [brother-in-law] Saul [Katz] was not really either. They were strictly Real Estate people. Although I explained the Strategy to them they were not sophisticated enough to evaluate it properly, nor were most of my other individual clients. They were not in a position to perform the necessary due diligence and did not have access to necessary financial info or records."
In a separate phone interview with Toobin, Madoff says: "He must feel that I betrayed him, as do most of my friends who were involved. Hopefully, they will understand the pressures I was under. I made money for them legitimately to start, but then I got trapped and was not able to work my way out of it. It just became impossible for me to extricate myself, or even try and extricate myself."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
13hAndrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews