May 16

Fred Wilpon Praises David Wright With Superstar Label

Last year, Mets owner Fred Wilpon called David Wright: ”A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

That was when Wright was struggling and before it was learned he played a month with a small fracture in his back.

Now healthy and stroking line drives at a near .400 clip, Wilpon said this morning Wright was “playing like a superstar.”

Wilpon made his comments this morning at City Hall with the announcement the Mets would host the 2013 All-Star Game.

It is becoming more and more likely that if Wright plays in the game, he will do so representing the Mets.

The organization still faces a mountain of debt, but stung over the criticism of not making an offer to Jose Reyes – they should have just for show – losing Wright would be a serious public relations flop.

 

 

Mar 20

Wilpon needs to take Wright stance

Yesterday was a good day for the Mets. Not only did they receive a favorable settlement in the Madoff case, but completed the sale of 12 minority ownership shares at $20 million a shot for a total of $240 million.

WRIGHT: This has been a frustrating time for Wright.

The Mets claim to have lost $70 million last season, and the new money will pay off loans to Major League Baseball ($25 million) and Bank of American ($40 million). They should be able to sustain their operating expenses for this season.

The Mets have a three-year break before they required to pay any of the $162 million from the settlement, so there is some sense of relief in clarity as they attempt to budget until that time.

What then?

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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 15

Don’t understand Judge’s ruling in Madoff case.

I am not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV. However, I thought in this country one was innocent until proven guilty. Isn’t that basic stuff?

Doesn’t that mean the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty? At least, that’s what I get from watching Law & Order.

RAKOFF: Don't understand his ruling.

I don’t get Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s reasoning the burden of proof falls on Fred Wilpon to prove his innocense. None of this makes sense. It doesn’t seem logical. And, Rakoff does not offer a legal precedence in explaining his decision.

First off all, the perpetrator in all this is Bernie Madoff, who is already serving time for his part in the Ponzi scandal. Yes, the Wilpons invested with Madoff and made money. But, didn’t they also lose money? Didn’t they have money in accounts with Madoff when this came to light? Doesn’t it make sense they would have pulled all their funds before the roof collapsed?

Since the Wilpons didn’t work actively with Madoff, I don’t understand why they should be held responsible for the losses of others. Why aren’t other investors the target of Irving Picard? On the surface that doesn’t seem right. It seems Picard is going after an easy, and public, target.

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Mar 05

Judge rules against Mets …. will be appealed

As the Mets get ready to open their spring training schedule tonight – David Wright is not expected to play because of a strained rib cage muscle – the issue that will be the backdrop to their season moved centerstage this morning.

U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled Mets owner Fred Wilpon must pay as much as $83 million because of the Ponzi scheme. The ruling also set a March 19 trial date for another $303 million.

This decision will be appealed, so the Wilpon’s aren’t hitting in the bottom of the ninth. At least not yet.

I don’t know how this will finish, but today only deepened the hole and put the Mets under more financial pressure. I’d bet the Mets would jump at the chance to settle for just $83 million, but this will drag on, their legal fees will mount and we can disregard any idea of being able to acquire talent at midseason if it is competitive.

Regardless of how today’s decision would have been, it would have been appealed. But, the negative ruling only reinforced the sentiment this will be a dark season.

On the positive side, Ike Davis is cleared. However, the prospect of him having a lengthy illness and Wright hurting already reinforced the Mets’ lack of depth. On that note, I am pleased Justin Turner will get the opportunity to back up Davis at first rather than disrupt Lucas Duda’s development in right field.