Jeff Wilpon Speaks With Kevin Burkhardt

After this afternoon’s press conference at Citi Field, SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt spoke one-on-one with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.

Asked about what angered him the most about the last four years, Wilpon said:

“Losing. The losing, and the fact we lost a little bit of the TEAM. I think Carlos Beltran did a great thing when we were in Philadelphia about the slide on Ruben Tejada, and went out the next day and did something about it…We need more guys like that, and if we put a new leader in the clubhouse, the culture will be great.”

Asked about ‘Prevention and Recovery’ and whether or not the organization carried that out, Wilpon said:

“Yes i think we did…this year we had over 1500 days on the DL, this year we will be at 900, the league avg was 800…we have to do better…we just have to keep working on prevention and recovery and do a better job of communication with the press, and the fans as well.”

Asked if he felt the Mets could still win with their core group of players, Wilpon said:

“I do, but again, its not me, its the new GM with a fresh perspective and we need to re-invigorate the franchise and put a new manager in…we have t put calue back on the field so the fans come back out to Citi Field.”

Asked about Omar Minaya’s autonomy and the decision making process, Wilpon said:

“Omar would talk about everything, and then we approved his decisions…He had total autonomy…I didn’t know half those guys existed…We deserve the hit, because we made poor choices on how we spent the money.”

Asked if the Mets need a big name general manager going forward to say ‘we mean business’, Wilpon said:

“The whole organizational culture, when you bring a GM in, is going to change the fan’s outlook…if that’s a good direction that everyone, the fan base can buy into, I think you don’t necessarily need a name guy…if a name guy comes with that, that’s great, but looking at it that way is shortsighted.”

Asked about Wally Backman, and whether or not he can be a big league manager, Wilpon said:

“Absolutely…I love Wally…he said he was going to do everything he did this year…he has a big future…lets get the GM in place and we can have plenty of discussion on who the mgr will be…”

Asked about the coaching staff and their return in 2011, Wilpon said:

“I think we’d like some of them to come back – two guys who are org guys, HoJo and Niemann will have jobs in the org no matter what…the pitching coach, Dan Warthen…did a real good job as well…John [Ricco] and I will give our input tot he new GM, that will go to the manager…”

Asked if he could say one thing to the Mets fans, Wilpon said:

“We are going to put a valued product back on the field, and you will be proud of it. Ownership is a fan as well, and we want this team to win.”