Jeff Wilpon pushes for Mets radio replacements

Jeff Wilpon. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Apparently, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has big plans for one of the few things in his team's orbit that's seems to be functioning fairly well: the radio broadcast.

According to sources familiar with talks between the team and WOR-AM, Wilpon is pushing to find a replacement for Josh Lewin, who partners on Mets broadcasts with Howie Rose. 

It's easy to catalogue what's wrong with the Mets, of course. There's ownership's finances and debt load, the straitened roster, attendance, Matt Harvey's elbow, and so on.

The radio team, however, seemed to be working well.

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Reflecting the sentiments of many fans, Mets writer Greg Prince put it this way: "I want Howie and Josh on that call. I need Howie and Josh on that call;" the popular blog Mets Police has come to adore Rose-Lewin too, just two years into the partnership. 

With the Mets moving up the dial from 660 WFAN to 710 WOR, after the former booted them for the Yankees, Wilpon is apparently unhappy with the situation. And with just weeks until spring training, the situation is still unresolved.

Bob Raissman reported this week that the Mets were looking for some sort of change, and had but that Lewin would probably be back at least in the short term.

WOR didn't respond to an email seeking comment about Wilpon's role in the search, and the Mets declined to comment. 

The sources who spoke to Capital say there's a desire from Wilpon to incorporate an ex-player into the booth, a change from the pure-announcer backgrounds of Rose and Lewin. It's hardly a revolutionary idea, and in fact the ex-jock formula has worked exceptionally well for the Mets on TV, with the extrordinary, anti-homer combination of Gary, Keith and Ron. 

But it flies in the face of how the Mets have typically deployed their radio announcers for the half-century they've been around.

Consider that for most of the team's 52 years, the Mets have excelled on the radio side with a broadcast-first approach to their radio team's background. Bob Murphy, Gary Cohen, Lindsey Nelson, Howie Rose are all iconic names in Mets broadcasting, without a single M.L.B. game played between them. Only Ralph Kiner stands apart as a Mets radio broadcaster of note with playing experience.

It's generally considered to have worked well to team Rose's analysis with Lewin, who excels on the play-by-play side of things. There's no downtime in a Mets broadcast with Rose and Lewin.

But with a month until their first spring training game on February 28, the Mets haven't finalized arrangements with Rose, Lewin, or a replacement for either one.

Which means that, after all this, they may have a hard time lining up any alternatives.

This may be typical for the Mets, who hired Lewin to replace Wayne Hagin two years ago in early February, but most other broadcast teams are already in place, limiting the free agents available for the Mets and WOR to hire.

Then there's the reality of the job itself, which would require someone like Cliff Floyd, one rumored Mets/WOR target who is currently an analyst for MLB Network, to travel with the Mets for months, at a wage far lower than what he ever received as a player, not to mention MLB Network.

"Unless Cliff Floyd really, really doesn't like his family, why would he take a pay cut to leave his mansion in Miami for months at a time?" was how one of the sources put it to me.

It might be similar in that respect to the reaction of ESPN's John Kruk, when asked about the just-opened Phillies television broadcast spots: "I work 65 days a year. ... It's not bad."

Too bad the Mets don't have more money to spend on free agents, so Jeff Wilpon could focus his creative ideas on that.