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.

 

Feb 27

Fred: “ … we intend to own the franchise for a very long time.”

Whether he was speaking out of defiance or knowledge, Mets owner Fred Wilpon vowed he wasn’t parting with his team. Period.

“Well, (Mets fans) shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,’’ Wilpon said this morning in Port St. Luice. “Whether they’re happy about that right now or not, I don’t know. Don’t forget, we cut a lot of payroll that wasn’t producing.’’

JEFF and FRED: Keeping the reins on the Mets.

That much is true, as gone are Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Also gone are Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, but they were productive Mets last season.

Wilpon reiterated the refrain often sung by the Mets in recent seasons in hoping for bounce back seasons from the injured (Johan Santana, Ike Davis and David Wright) and the non-producing (Wright, Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey). If all those things are realized and GM Sandy Alderson’s patchwork bullpen is productive, the Mets could overachieve.

Perhaps the key personnel issue facing the Mets this year is Wright’s future and Wilpon said he wants him to stay. He did not, however, say he’ll do everything in his power to make sure he stays.

Reyes, Wilpon said, was more a baseball decision than it was an economic choice, although the two are linked. Based on Reyes’ frequent injury history, Wilpon was leery of a long-term deal to Reyes. Wilpon said $100 million was on the table, but was linked to incentives such as games played and at-bats, which Reyes turned down. The rejection spoke more of Reyes than it did Wilpon.

Ideally, the Mets would like to build around a relatively young core and ride out the Santana and Bay contracts. If those two are healthy and productive they could help the Mets overachieve and draw a few more fans, and in the process, not make it necessary to deal Wright. Then Bay and Santana can be cut loose are their contracts expire to give the Mets more flexibility.

Dec 05

Alderson frank about future.

General manager Sandy Alderson, on WFAN today, equated the Jose Reyes departure to that “of losing somebody after a long illness … you can prepare for it, but when it happens it is a hard thing to accept.’’

ALDERSON: Tough times ahead.

With Alderson forecasting a $100-million payroll for 2012, Reyes would have been an injury risk they couldn’t afford, no matter how popular he was with the dwindling fan base.

It is team sport sure, but it can’t be forgotten the Mets only reached the playoffs one time in Reyes’ nine seasons with the team.

“I’ve been saying from the first day that the payroll was too high to sustain at the current levels of revenue,’’ Alderson said.

Signing Reyes for the $17.7 million he’ll get from the Marlins, plus the $24 million due Johan Santana, plus the $16 million for Jason Bay and $15 million for David Wright would have added up to $72.7 tied up for four players. As it is, the Mets will pay $55 million for three players, one of which – Santana – they don’t know what they’ll get.

With the Mets losing $70 million last season – that’s what they say, but they haven’t opened their books – and their debt on Citi Field and from loans taken against the team and SNY which total over $1.4 billion, it was clear keeping Reyes would have been a pipedream.

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Sep 08

Wouldn’t mind seeing Izzy back.

Jason Isringhausen told ESPN he’d like to pitch next year, and I’m all for giving him a one-year deal. Nothing longer. Isringhausen pitched well enough to warrant attention from teams looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, but I don’t see anybody, the Mets included, signing him strictly as a closer.

IZZY: A case for bringing him back.

However, he showed the capability of getting the job done when he had to. Isringhausen saved seven games after Francisco Rodriguez was traded, and overall showed his fastball still has some life with 44 strikeouts in 46 innings.

The Mets are hoping Bobby Parnell will win the job, but he’s far from a certainty. There’s nobody else that jumps out, either. I don’t believe Isringhausen has enough left in the tank to be a fulltime closer, but he’s a great influence to have in what figures to be a young, and likely, inexperienced bullpen, next season. Parnell could do a lot worse than having Isringhausen around as his mentor. So could most everybody else in what has arguably been one of the Mets’ signature weaknesses this season.

The Mets exceeded expectations this year and should take another step in 2012. Isringhausen could get some attention from contenders, but his biggest influence still could come in Flushing. I am all for giving young guys a shot, but I’m against cutting loose veterans who still have something to offer. It’s not as if the Mets’ bullpen is loaded with fireballing, young arms with pinpoint control.

The bullpen can be a chatty place, and relief pitching is one position on a team most ripe for a younger player soaking up information regarding pitch selection, location, how to work to various hitters, and to retain one’s composure.

The man must know something with 300 career saves. Conversely, Parnell doesn’t even have 180 career innings pitched.

 

 

 

 

Aug 22

Mets Crossfire: The Jose Reyes Dilemma

In a new feature that we will be doing from time time to time, myself and Joe D. from Metsmerized.com will do a point/counterpoint on various Mets hot button issues. This week, we share our opposing views on whether the Mets should re-sign Jose Reyes or just cut the cord and move on from him already.

John Delcos On Reyes – Lets Move On From Him Already

In an ideal world, Jose Reyes would stay healthy, be running free and sparking the Mets to the playoffs, as he did in 2006 – five long years ago and the only year in which the team made the playoffs with him.

However, it is not an ideal world and it might take another five years before the Mets see October again. By that time, Reyes would be at the tail end of the longest contract I’d be willing to give the All-Star, but fragile shortstop.

Reyes’ blistering first half took him off the trading block, and his second trip to the disabled list now makes him impossible to deal by the waiver deadline. He might still be disabled by the end of the month and the Mets will forced to settle for the compensatory pick because that’s all they’ll get when he signs elsewhere this winter.

The gamble at a boat load of prospects has passed.

With no chance to move him, the Mets are faced with the paralyzing choice of coming up with a long-term contract north of $100 million to keep Reyes or going the unpopular route and continuing their rebuilding program without him.

I’m inclined to choose the latter, because after all, it is not an ideal world, and the world that has been Reyes saw one playoff berth, several trips to the disabled list and leaving us with a feeling of wanting more than being satisfied with what we had.

Reyes makes his living with his legs and by the end of his contract his salary would become an albatross, much like it was with Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and Jason Bay. He’s not running free now and there’s no guarantee about the future.

That Reyes is breaking down again, as he has the past two years, is not shocking. But, it would be a surprise is if Reyes were to stay healthy for the duration of his deal, whether it be four years, seven, or anything in between. That’s a long shot.

General manager Sandy Alderson should not be seduced by Reyes’ first half and realize numbers in a walk year must be scrutinized carefully. Reyes hasn’t played this well in three years.

Looking at the Mets and it isn’t hard to see next year could be the same as this if the team stays intact and Johan Santana returns. But, even then, there are holes in the rotation and bullpen, a health question in Ike Davis at first, David Wright trying to rebound at third, and questions in all three outfield positions.

Assuming Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler are the real deals, we’re still roughly three years away. And, how healthy Reyes will be then is anybody’s guess.

Perhaps the Wilpon’s financial problems will be resolved by then. Maybe not. However, the $100 plus million it would take to keep the risky Reyes might be better spent on filling the myriad of holes on their roster.

And, with that kind of money, they should do better than the patchwork likes of Chris Young, Willie Harris and R.A. Dickey.

The Mets could move to rebuild with that money, or they could dig themselves into a deeper hole if Reyes doesn’t stay healthy. In his nine major league seasons, he’s only done it four times.

It’s time for the next chapter.

Joe D. On Reyes – Special Players Like Him Are Irreplaceable

While I clearly understand the rationale of those who are unwilling to see the Mets pony up the big bucks to keep Jose Reyes in Flushing, I on the other hand emphatically disagree with that strategy.

For all those who are constantly chirping on our comment threads about rebuilding the farm and building a winning team from within, why are many of those same folks the ones championing the exit of our one homegrown All Star, Jose Reyes?

Did I suddenly wake up this morning and find myself in Kansas City – Where home grown stars are traded or simply allowed to walk once they reach free agency? Is that what the Mets have been reduced to while playing there home games in the largest and richest sports market and the grandest stage in the world?

I don’t think and Bronx Bombers fans had this debate before Derek Jeter signed his first mega-deal in 2001 – a ten year $189 million dollar whopper of a deal. That was ten years ago, right after Jeter put up similar numbers in 2000 (.339 BA, 50 XBH, 22 SB) as Reyes has this season (.336 BA, 36 XBH, 34 SB).

Is the debate really about making the Mets better? Or is this really about money?

Yes, I agree that Jose Reyes is always an injury risk and there is no arguing that point, but does that mean we simply let a team like the Yankees, Phillies or Red Sox take the risk while we play it safe even at the risk of winding up with more egg on our face?

Did we nurture and develop Jose Reyes from a raw 16-year old, just so we can see him play the prime years of his career for one of our rivals?

Even if you were to convince me that letting Jose Reyes walk at the end of the season is a good idea, can somebody please tell me who replaces him at shortstop or at the top of the order? How do you replace a catalyst like Reyes? How do you replace the best shortstop and only All Star on the team?

Ruben Tejada at shortstop? Justin Turner? Angel Pagan leading off? Don’t make me laugh…

This front office already has a daunting task in trying to replace Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez this offseason on top of a dozen other concerns, and you want to add replacing Jose Reyes into that mix?

I’ve already see what this team looks like without Jose Reyes in the lineup, and excuse me for telling you they are dead in the water without him. It will take years and maybe decades before we ever develop another homegrown player like Jose Reyes.

Reyes is probably the best position player the Mets have ever developed in their almost 50 year history. Sure… Let’s just let him walk away… Great idea…