Jan 06

Mets circling financial wagons.

Although the Mets insist hiring a consulting firm CRG Partners doesn’t indicate the Wilpons are preparing to file for bankruptcy, it is easy to draw that conclusion.

Nonetheless, it is also easy to understand their stance. Things are already abundantly clear about the Mets’ dire financial straits, but vultures are always circling so why make it easy for them?

The Mets are under extreme economic stress so hiring a professional is the sound course. This company worked with the Texas Rangers, and they’ve been to the World Series for the past two seasons.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but the Mets would be foolish not to get as much information as possible.

The Mets could be able to withstand this storm if they receive a favorable ruling when Ponzi goes to court, and CRG might be able to offer some productive counsel should it turn out that way.

Even should bankruptcy come to pass, the Wilpons would need all the advice they can get to protect their other assets other than the Mets.

This is simply a matter of protection, and even if things go against the Wilpons in court there will be the inevitable appeals process, so this won’t be resolved any time soon.

 

Jan 05

Torre has to be frontrunner for Dodgers.

There are some impressive, heavyweight syndicates vying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the latest entry the clear frontrunner in my opinion.

TORRE: From bench to boardroom?

I’m thinking slam dunk for Joe Torre.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has potentially the most financial clout, but Bud Selig and the owners will likely view him as a loose cannon, much the way NBA commissioner David Stern does.

The Magic Johnson and Steve Garvey groups bring a local flavor, but they don’t have the cache of Torre.

As the sale of the Boston Red Sox proved, Selig leans toward his favorites and has long admired Torre. That Torre worked for Selig last season also gives him an insight into the inner workings of Major League Baseball the other groups lack.

Torre is a leader on so many levels, with respect within the baseball community and the Los Angeles business community. This is a man with integrity and clout. If he’s truly sincere in this endeavor, I can’t see the team being sold to anybody but him.

 

 

Jan 05

Fish better, but don’t get carried away.

It is almost a given the Miami Marlins will finish ahead of the Mets this season, and that was even before the acquisition of Carlos Zambrano. If Zambrano is in shape, physically, mentally and emotionally, he’ll make the Marlins better. But, I’m not ready to put a Dream Team label on the Marlins. We’ve seen how well that works before.

However, the Marlins have made significant upgrades and you can guess the level of enthusiasm. Even so, there’s room for caution. Here’s why:

* A significant shoulder injury limited Josh Johnson to nine starts last season, and he’s clearly their most pronounced concern. Without Johnson, most everything else could be a moot point.

* Mark Buehrle is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings. That’s a lot of wear and tear, and one must assume his old team, the Chicago White Sox, know or suspect something.

* Zambrano has proven to be an out-of-control head case. He’s been the dangerous combination of an injured malcontent. Good for the Marlins that the Cubs are picking up nearly his entire salary. Zambrano is a gamble, but if things don’t pan out I wonder how he’ll respond, especially if Johnson is unavailable.

* Yeah, yeah, Jose Reyes can be an issue. Let’s not forget he went 0n the disabled list twice last season and all but shut down his running game during the second half. Reyes put up good numbers in his walk year, but we’ll see how motivated he is knowing he’s set for life. Reyes also has the burden of living living up to a $100-million contract. He’s always been sensitive, and at times moody and let’s his concentration wander. He’ll be under new found pressure. Let’s see how he handles it.

* One would have thought Hanley Ramirez wouldn’t have been an issue, that the Marlins would have ran the Reyes deal by him before writing the check. If Ramirez, who has always had some dog in him, is unhappy who can’t see him pulling a Santoni0 Holmes? It has to be a matter of time before he wants a new deal for himself.

* Ozzie Guillen is in a new home with high expectations, and moving with him is that big mouth of his. Guillen runs hot-and-cold on the likability meter. His act should play well in the beginning, but if the Marlins struggle, and he can’t connect with Ramirez for the greater good, it could get messy in that heat.

 

 

Jan 04

Mets face difficult start.

It won’t take long to figure out the 2012 Mets.

The team entering spring training without expectations – at least positive ones – face a difficult schedule despite 13 games at Citi Field and ten on the road. That includes everybody in their division, so we’ll have an idea of how they’ll stack up against the NL East.

I looked at their schedule this afternoon and if things play out as expected, they could be done before the weather gets warm. It isn’t hard to imagine interest in the baseball season being done in Flushing before the kids are done with school.

They open with a pair of three-game series at home against the Braves, who always give them a hard time, and the new-and-improved Washington Nationals (80-81 last year), who are talking with Prince Fielder.

Then they have consecutive three-game series at Philly and Atlanta before coming home for four games against San Francisco and three with Miami.

The Nationals and Marlins were sub-.500 last season, but both played the Mets tough and are expected to be better this year, perhaps to the point of wild-card contention.

They close out the month with three at Colorado and one in Houston, places where they have struggled.

Following two more at Houston, the Mets play Arizona, at Philadelphia and Miami, and home to Milwaukee and Cincinnati before May 18.

Think there’s a chance they could be ten games under or more by then? You bet.

It is not productive for a team to look too far ahead, but with all that’s going on with the Mets, it isn’t hard.

Jan 03

Nationals reportedly in it for Fielder.

Depending on whom you read, the Nationals are either in it or don’t have an interest in Prince Fielder. I’m thinking they’ll make an offer, but only if they’ll give him an out clause similar to that the Yankees had in contracts with CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.

FIELDER: Prince goes to Washington?

The Nationals have worked well with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, who had the out in the Rodriguez deal. It would be a win-win for all.

For Fielder, it would be a chance to repeat the process and make more money. For the Nationals, if Fielder turns out to be a bust, isn’t in shape, or they aren’t winning, it would be a chance to walk away.

Let’s assume the Nationals get Fielder and he posts big numbers. That should offer protection for Jayson Werth and possibly put them in wild-card contention. Of course, it comes down to pitching, which is what we’ve said for years about the Mets.

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