Mar 19

Settlement favors Mets. Will it change things?

Whenever a mediator – in this case New York Gov. Mario Cuomo – brokers a settlement between two warring parties, despite the agreement and presumption of peace, there is a winner.

Cuomo said, “nobody gets everything they want in a settlement,’’ but the Wilpons got what they needed in Irving Picard’s “Battle for the Mets.’’

Sure, Fred Wilpon wanted to come away unscathed, but in the end the settlement was kind to him and the Mets. Wilpon gets to keep his team and could be on the hook for just $162 million, far more palatable than the initial $1 billion lawsuit, and later the $380 million ceiling ruled by Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Picard saw earlier decisions going toward Wilpon; the Mets saw a long and costly trial.

“The closer you get to trial the closer you get to the reality of trial,’’ Cuomo said.

The reality of it is Wilpon could owe less than $162 because the settlement allows him to go after the $178 million they claim to have lost in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scandal.

Of the $178 million, Picard has already recovered $10 million. So, in essence Wilpon and Picard have formed an odd partnership.

On top of a shrinking settlement, the Mets don’t have to pay anything for three years. While this settlement eases the financial burden on the Mets and possibly offers more a sense of economic clarity, it doesn’t assure the Mets a climate of  “normalcy,’’ as suggested by Cuomo.

Since Carlos Beltran took that curveball from Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 NLCS, normalcy for the Mets has been blown division leads in 2007 and 2008, a shoddy bullpen, a string of injuries, a line of incomprehensible and suffocating contracts, two managerial changes, a front office overhaul and a slashed payroll of $50 million.

The Mets’ austerity forced the trading of Beltran and closer Francisco Rodriguez, and free-agent departure of Jose Reyes. It could also lead to trading David Wright.

What happened Monday was a victory for Wilpon, but it doesn’t immediately change the state of his team of the field. The Mets are projected to finish last in the National League East in their fourth straight losing season.

That is what normalcy has been recently for the Mets and that isn’t about to change. The three-year relief from making payments is likely to be the same window before the team becomes baseball relevant again.

This was a stressful and expensive ordeal for Wilpon, who saw the very real possibility of losing his team. This settlement gives him a second chance. Hopefully, he’ll make the most of it.

 

Mar 18

Some things to mull over

The Mets are off tomorrow, which is a good thing, and gives us some time to look at what is going on for the Mets so far this spring.

Most encouraging has been Johan Santana’s progress through three starts. He’s been healthy and his velocity is gradually increasing.

Jon Niese has been solid and showing all signs he’s on the mend. If Santana isn’t ready for spring training, then Niese is the No. 1 as Mike Pelfrey hasn’t shown he’s capable in that role.

Pelfrey is still an enigma and has shown nothing to prove he’ll go into the season on a role. There’s still something missing in the Mets’ biggest question.

Health questions Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy seem as if they sound, but the latter still has his shaky moments at second base.

Andres Torres had a fast start in center field, but there’s not a reliable backup.

David Wright remains a health question, as does lefty reliever Tim Byrdak. With a hole in the bullpen, the Mets have four candidates vying for the role, with Garrett Olson seemingly having the inside track.

Ruben Tejada has a hamstring problem which was a temporary setback, but those types of injuries have a long recovery period.

 

Mar 12

Time to re-evaluate conditioning program

The Mets’ medical staff has been under scrutiny for years, but maybe it is time to re-evaluate the team’s off-season and spring training conditioning programs.

WRIGHT: Was his injury preventable?

Seven Mets, including David Wright, who returned to New York for further exams today on his side, have rib cage, oblique or upper body injuries. Manager Terry Collins offered several theories, none of which are acceptable from a team that should know what it is doing. Collins mentioned excessive weight training, overworking in pre-game warm-ups, too much caffeine and not stretching properly or seriously.

All these suggestions are preventable, and honestly, inexcusable. One or two issues is one thing, but the Mets have seven players ailing since spring training. That doesn’t suggest a team with a handle on things.

Wright, Kirk Niewenhuis, Scott Hairston, and Robert Carson have side muscle injuries. Lucas Duda, Daniel Herrera and Reese Havens have back issues. To be fair, I don’t know what it is like with these injuries in other camps, but seven is an epidemic.

Either the players haven’t been schooled or given the proper conditioning programs, the teaching of such is inadequate, or these guys don’t know what they are doing. When it comes to the body core, flexibility is as important as strength.

When Sandy Alderson and Collins took over last year, they promised a return to basics and fundamentals, and that should include conditioning, too. The Mets aren’t a team that can afford any setbacks, and this shouldn’t be occurring, at least not to this degree.

Mar 11

From day-to-day to week-to-week

First it was a day or two. Then  it was day-to-day. Then, the beginning of this week. Now, it is the end of this week for David Wright and his sore ribs. I’m glad the Mets are cautious with him, but it makes me wonder if they missed something in the beginning.

We’re just into the games and already the Mets are a hurting group. Wright, Lucas Duda, Andres Torres. Gives one pause on what is in store for this summer.

 

Mar 07

Reasons for playing it safe with Wright.

This much I know about rib cage and oblique injuries: They tend to linger, and often until past when you think you’re healed.

WRIGHT: Playing it safe with their biggest chip.

First it was a couple of games. Now it is until next week. And, even that’s a little vague for when David Wright will return. If Wright is shut down for another week, so be it. The biggest deterrent for him not being ready by Opening Day is for the injury to be aggravated.

The last thing the Mets need is for this to drag on into the season and sap his production in the first half. Not only will it hurt the Mets on the field, but also reduces Wright’s value in the trade market. Don’t think for a moment that hasn’t crossed Sandy Alderson’s mind.

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