Steve Phillips offers candid thoughts on Mets, Bobby V.
Steve Phillips' new Sirius XM talk show premiered Monday. Later that day, the Mets made some news. Perfect timing! He weighed in Tuesday, thusly (as transcribed by Sirius XM p.r.):
Phillips: “I think the Mets [GM] job is a good job. The owners care. Do they meddle? You know, they don’t pick players but they’re involved, they’re clearly involved. As a general manager you hear your owner when your owner says, I’ll give you an example, when the owner says, ‘What are you going to do with that guy? I’m a little worried about his pitching.’ And you say, ‘Well, no, I think he’s going to be okay. I talked to my guys and I think he’s going to be okay.’
"And then a week later [the owner] says, ‘You know, I’m not really sure this pitcher’s going to still be very good.’ At some point that light bulb goes on in your head as a general manager and says, ‘All right, the owner doesn’t like this guy for some reason.’ Do I want to fight this fight with the owner? How long do I battle him? How long do I say, ‘I am going to hold on to him even if the owner doesn’t like him?’
"And when the guy loses a game and I have to go into the owner’s box and talk to him and the owner’s looking at me, and I know he doesn’t like that guy on the mound, at some point you think to yourself, ‘Well, let me move that guy out and bring somebody else in that the owner does like.’
"And the owners do have some strong opinions about players for the Mets. They don’t pick them but it puts pressure on the general manager in your decision-making process.”
More from Phillips: “You talk to a Mets fan, you hear frustration. You hear, ‘How come the Mets can’t see the obvious? We all see it. Why do they keep trying to do something different? Why do they try to pound the square peg into the round hole?’
"People believe they get it wrong at every turn. Now, that’s an overstatement for sure. I think that there are a lot of issues and I think that leadership does start at the top and it reflects the attitude at the top and it does filter down in the organization. Can the Mets win with these owners? Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question. They have.
"Fred Wilpon was the owner that I dealt with on an every day basis when we won in 1999 and 2000. He was the owner when he went to the World Series in 2000. He was the owner in 2006 when they went to the playoffs. So they can have success.
"The question is: How do you sustain success? They’ve got to find a way to get into that business and baseball rhythm and pattern where the two come together and they get some synergy and they can put together some winning.”
Phillips on Bobby V.: “Bobby Valentine and I had a lot of success together. We really did. And yet, it was a tumultuous relationship. He’s a big personality. That thing that makes him great, that passion for the game, his intelligence, his knowledge, his confidence, his stubbornness, all of those things made him good as a manager but they also got him in trouble.
"He lacked that filter between his brain and his mouth. That ‘no-filteritis,’ that dreaded disease, and in New York that’s tough. Bobby’s a fixer. Bobby’s a guy that can come in and start to turn things around, but at some point, those things that make him interesting early, become those things why you end up firing him later. Because when you’re losing, things aren’t going right, and the honeymoon is over, he’s a tough guy to manage.
"He’s a high maintenance guy. I always had an executive on the road, on every single road trip, because I knew that we were one interview away from there being an issue or being a problem. He motivates players, but not necessarily to get them to do it for him. Sometimes, more often than not, they’re motivated to do it in spite of him, to spite him, to kind of say ‘screw you, Bobby, I’m going to do this.’ But either way, it works. But that method, that style, doesn’t have long lasting impact.
"You want guys to do it because they want to, because it’s their idea, and you’re there to support them and to lift them up. Bobby is kind of a guy who chides and says stuff here and there and plays some games with it. But he has some thought as to why he is doing it because he is a bright guy but it can lead to problems and it doesn’t last for a long time in relationships with players.”
More on Bobby V.: “Bobby Valentine, I think there’s a spot for him in the major leagues. I don’t think it’s back with the Mets, although Fred Wilpon and Bobby had a very close relationship. … I think Bobby fits for the Seattle Mariners.”
On whether he trusted Valentine when they worked together:
Phillips: “I guess with certain aspects of the game, like I knew he was going to make decisions that he put thought into. I knew he would make decisions that he had passion about. I knew that there wasn’t anything that I asked him after the game, even if I disagreed with it, that he wouldn’t give me a very thoughtful explanation.
"Where I think things got difficult, and New York does this, is that I think there was a thought from Bobby [that] he needed to position himself with certain members of the media. He needed to have his guys, and he did, he had his guys in the media. … And what happened was it got to the point with Bobby that I did not feel comfortable to share personnel thoughts with him because it ended up in the paper."