It was a busy day at Citi Field this afternoon. Let’s get you caught up on the highlights:
* Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon confirmed GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel would return. “They both deserve a chance to redeem themselves,’’ Wilpon said. “They are very much on the hook now to work hard and correct the problems and flaws of the team. Injuries are not an excuse. We need to be better. … I wouldn’t say (win) or else, but we need to be at a championship caliber level. We need to be competing down to the end.’’
* Wilpon said the Mets would spend to improve. “We will have one of the highest payrolls in baseball as we have had the last number of years,’’ Wilpon said. “There are no handcuffs on Omar. He’s free to go and get this team to be a championship team.’’
* Wilpon said improving the pitching staff and adding a power bat were the off-season shopping priorities.
* Bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr. and first base coach Luis Alicea will not be retained. Third base coach Razor Shines will be re-assigned. Pitching coach Dan Warthen, hitting coach Howard Johnson and bullpen coach Randy Niemann will keep their roles. Alomar Sr. will be invited to remain in the organization in some capacity.
* Wally Backman was invited to interview for a minor league job. Reportedly, the Mets have been in contact with former San Diego GM Kevin Towers and former Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi.
* Wilpon said the medical staff would be retained but some of the “medical protocols’’ would be re-evaluated.
* Jose Reyes will have surgery on the right hamstring that kept him sidelined since May 20.
Yesterday on the blog we talked about a Reuters story which quoted Erin Arvedlund, author of “Too Good to Be True,” of saying the Wilpon family lost $700 million in the Madoff scam and would be forced to sell the team by early of 2010.
Fred Wilpon told the New York Times, “I’m fine, my family’s fine, my business family’s fine.”
WILPON: Says Mets not for sale.
Wilpon also said the family has an emotional attachment to the Mets and would not sell the team. Wilpon said the team’s revenue from its share of the MLB television deal, luxury suits, ticket sales, concessions, ad revenue at Citi Field and its share of SNY were not affected by the scam. He said the Madoff losses were significantly less than $700 million, but did not specify.
Wilpon paid $135 million to buy out Nelson Doubleday’s share of the team in 2002, and the Mets, according to Forbes Magazine, are currently worth $912 million.
Major League Baseball monitors the finances of each team quarterly, and president Bob DuPuy said the team is under no financial distress.
Before we get going tonight I hope you’ll take a moment to read an earlier post I had on the need for the Wilpon ownership to speak out on the direction of the team. Feel free to post your comments either there or here.
I believe it is time for some clarity from the top because Omar Minaya isn’t really saying anything.
Meanwhile, as the Mets continue to unravel, the Phillies are reportedly close to landing Roy Halladay from Toronto, which should make them favorites to repeat as champions.
After dropping two of three at Washington, the Mets are in Houston for the weekend, not an easy place for them to play.
Here’s the line-up tonight behind Johan Santana:
Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Omir Santos, C
Angel Berroa, SS
Johan Santana, LP
PREGAME NOTES: Billy Wagner could begin a rehab assignment next week. … Gary Sheffield remains day-to-day. It’s been that way for a week and the Mets continue to play shorthanded. … Carlos Beltran’s knee will be re-examined. … Alex Cora’s thumb continues to bother him. … Jon Niese will come up from Triple-A Buffalo to start tomorrow. Niese gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in a May 13 start against the Braves.
Reports have Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon in Atlanta to meet with Jerry Manuel and Oliver Perez to best figure out how to handle the disintegrating lefty.
1) Convince him to accept a minor league assignment. As a veteran of at least five years he has the right of veto. The pros of going to the minor leagues is it could demoralize the already shaky Perez emotionally beyond repair. Nobody has a way of knowing for sure. Theoretically, he’ll get consistent work in, albeit away from pitching coach Dan Warthen.
2) Keep him around where he could work with Warthen and pitch out of the bullpen in a to-be-determined role. The disadvantage is not getting consistent work against live hitters.
3) Put him on the DL with a knee (injury). All of a sudden Perez was wrapped in ice after Saturday’s start and said it had been hurting him all year. This is the path of least resistance because the Mets can bring somebody up and Perez can still be around the team to work out.
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon defended the decision to extend GM Omar Minaya’s contract at this time. Minaya was signed through 2009. He was given a three-year extension through 2012, with club options for 2013 and 2014.
“We failed this year, and we want to get the redemption we need and move forward, and we feel Omar and his staff are the best group to put us in that position,” Wilpon said. “We were not a good team before Omar took over. … Omar is our guy. We believe in Omar.”
Wilpon also said the current economic crisis in the country has not impacted the construction project at Citi Field: “We have not requested funds above what we have budgeted for.”
Wilpon would not say whether this year’s payroll of $143 million would be exceeded next year, but did not say Minaya had a ceiling.
I’ll have Minaya for you in a few minutes.
-Minaya said negotiations are on-going with manager Jerry Manuel on an extension.
-Minaya said the team is leaning toward bringing back Carlos Delgado. He has already spoken with his agent.