New York Mets chief operations officer Jeff Wilpon addresses the media during a press conference prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

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5 Takeaways From Jeff Wilpon's Press Conference

Mets COO Speaks To Media At Length For First Time Since Last Winter

October 01, 2018 - 2:58 pm
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By WFAN.com

The Mets' season came to a disappointing end Sunday.

After getting off to a franchise-best 11-1 start, New York quickly crumbled, finishing the year 77-85 and missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

The team has plenty of questions they need to answer, as the current roster contains some significant holes. 

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon held an end-of-the-year press conference Sunday, speaking to the media at length for the first time since last winter.

Wilpon discussed a variety of topics surrounding the franchise, none more important than who will be leading the team's front office moving forward.

Here are five takeaways from Wilpon's press conference.

1. The Mets will cast a wide net when looking for the team's next head of baseball operations

GM Sandy Alderson stepped away from the organization in June because of a recurrence of cancer, and since then the organization has known it would need to find a new leader for the front office following the conclusion of the season. 

The search will begin this week as the team asks other organizations for permission to speak with their executives about the open position. Wilpon said no internal candidates will be considered for the position, eliminating assistant GM John Ricco and special assistants Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi, the three members of the organization filling in as GM for Alderson since June, from contention.

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Wilpon and Ricco will conduct the first-round interviews.

"I've got a lot of opinions from a lot of people, so it's going to be very broad," said Wilpon. "Some untraditional candidates will be put into the mix."

Reports state the Mets are looking at scouting- and analytical-minded candidates, with some wild cards in the mix as well. 

Wilpon hopes to have somebody in place prior to the GM meetings, which take place in mid-November.

2. The new head of baseball operations will have autonomy when it comes to organizational decisions

Wilpon made it clear that the front office's new leader will have the power to make all decisions regarding the franchise, on the field and in the front office. 

This means whether or not Ricco, Minaya, and Ricciardi return to the organization will be the new GM's call. 

But they are not the only ones who will have to wait to find out about their future in Queens. While he hopes the new head of baseball operations will choose to bring him back (along with the top front office executives), Wilpon said Mickey Callaway is not guaranteed to be the manager of the Mets next season.

"They are part of the failure we had this year, the same as I am, and the rest of the front office. It's only fair to give somebody coming in an open book to bring in who they want," said Wilpon regarding the team's front office trio of Ricco, Minaya and Ricciardi. "Would I like them to stay? Yes. From an ownership standpoint, I'd like them to stay. I'd like Mickey to stay. That's from ownership, though. And we're going to rely on a new GM to give us that direction and guidance." 

While Wilpon did say the new GM would be making the decisions regarding the futures of people within the organization, the team's COO admitted that "final recommendation will go through me."

3. The team's 2019 payroll, which is already locked in for a projected $140 million, will be determined by the GM

Wilpon shied away from answering questions about the team's 2019 payroll, stating that the new GM will have heavy influence on the direction the organization decides to take this offseason.

"We have always set a goal in terms of what the payroll is going to be," the Mets COO said. "It always starts out at a number and we always exceed that number. I can't give you an exact answer on [the number], but when we have a new GM in place, we will have a plan that we will come back here with and lay that out."

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New York's $140 million current payroll for next season includes raises to arbitration eligible players. 

He didn't go into much detail about the team's payroll, but Wilpon did say that the team's apparent lack of interest in spending for the top, most-expensive free agents in recent offseasons was a "total recommendation" from Alderson and his regime.

4. Jacob deGrom deserved better support from the lineup, still should win Cy Young Award

Wilpon made it abundantly clear that ownership felt the team let deGrom down by not helping him get more wins.

"Jacob came up to me when I congratulated him the other night, after his 10th win he said, 'I got to my goal.' Like, no you didn't. We let you down, all right, we should've gotten you 20 wins," Wilpon said about the ace's amazing 2018 campaign. "There's no way 10 wins is your goal. And if we had played a little better, he would've had 20 wins, easily, and the Cy Young wouldn't even be in question. Hopefully he wins it anyway."

The 30-year-old made history this season, making 29 consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer, the longest single-season streak in MLB history. Additionally, deGrom set a record for most quality starts in a row with 23 straight. 

Yet the Mets scored a total of just 86 runs while deGrom was on the mound throughout his 32 starts, including just 56 runs in his final 26 games. Somehow the team scored two runs or less for the team's ace 18 times during that span.

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5. Overall the 2018 season was a huge disappointment

Nobody was content with how the season ended, from ownership to the front office to the players. 

"I can promise you ownership is very disappointed," Wilpon said on the team's 77-85 finish. "The front office is disappointed and I think the players are disappointed. The staff is disappointed on the way this all came out on what we did and didn't produce this year. I think there is a lot more in the tank for these guys."

The Mets missed the postseason and finished fourth in the National League East for the second consecutive season. 

Wilpon seemed to put a lot of the blame on Alderson, and hopes that a change in leadership within the organization will help change the organization's fortune.