Paul Lo Duca On WFAN: Jeff Wilpon Statement Is 'Ludicrous'

Former Mets Catcher Says Owners Should Stand Up And Face The Fans

Moose & Maggie
February 11, 2020 - 3:19 pm

Like most Mets fans, Paul Lo Duca couldn't believe the sale between Sterling Equities and Steve Cohen actually fell through. 

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Cohen was set to purchase the Mets from Chief Executive Officer Fred Wilpon and his son, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, for roughly $2.5 billion. The purchase would've seen Cohen's investment in the team rise to nearly 80% ownership with the Wilpons phased out after five years. 

Jeff Wilpon released a vague statement Monday regarding the failed sale of the team saying, "We would like to share more information on why the proposed transaction has ended however, due to confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, we are unable to do so at this time." Lo Duca, who spent two seasons in New York, told WFAN's Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray on Tuesday that the statement and fallout from negotiations is what "unsettled" him the most. 

"When Carlos Beltran got fired, every Mets beat writer was all over it," Lo Duca said. "They couldn't get enough of it. The Wilpon thing goes through and then MLB guys and certain guys start putting out things, 'Cohen is shady.' Shady? The guy's got $13 billion in his account. I think he'd be OK without the Wilpons, and we're calling the Wilpons angels? My point is that you have a mega deal fall through — and the guy is going to pay over what you're worth — but you want to control things? Then you want to try smear his name through other sources. MLB even tried to back up the Wilpons because they're friends. They back each other up.

"But Jeff can't get in front of the camera and explain what happened," Lo Duca added. "That is ludicrous that you own the New York Mets and you can't stand in front of the camera and make that same statement. You draw out a statement that's planned by a secretary or somebody else and says, 'I can't comment on the deal' but before, they want to smear his name where he can't buy an MLB team. ... They're trying to play a game, and Mets fans know it and they see it."

In a statement last week, Cohen reassured Mets fans that he "gave it my best shot." The Mets and Major League Baseball believed Cohen "acted in bad faith" and could find it diffcult to purchase another MLB team if interested, according to The New York Post

"How would you give somebody $3 billion and say, 'You know what? You don't got no control'? What kind of world do you live in?" Lo Duca asked. "But yet, it was Cohen's fault. That's my problem with this thing. People are writing it was Cohen's fault. Really? It was Cohen's fault? He's shady now? It turned into 'let's smear Cohen and make the Wilpons look good.' (Cohen's) not going to be able to buy another team now. You think he cares? He has $13 billion in the bank. You think he really cares? He's probably tickled to death he doesn't have to deal with them."

Since the Wilpon family took sole ownership in 2002, the Mets have only made the playoffs three times, including one World Series appearance. They've largely strayed away from signing marquee players in free agency, but Lo Duca believes the Wilpons' intention is still to win games. 

"I think they do want to win, but the problem is that they fell into — basically in 2006 when the Marlins didn't get their stadium, they unloaded me and Carlos (Delgado)," Lo Duca said. "We came over, and they picked up our contracts. They just fell into that team. They developed Jose Reyes and David Wright, but you've got to remember that 2006 team had John Maine, Phil Humber, Oliver Perez, Steve Trachsel — that was our starting pitching staff, and we almost went to the World Series. 

"Since then what happened?" Lo Duca asked. "2015 they went to the World Series. You've got to capitalize on these moments, and they haven't."

Click the audio player above to listen to Lo Duca's interview in its entirety