Nov 25

Mets’ Alderson Graded Highly By Ownership

I have been hearing how Sandy Alderson will be held accountable for the Mets’ performance this summer and I don’t believe that to be the case, regardless of what happens with David Wright and R.A. Dickey.

Alderson is getting A’s across the board, because those handing out the grades aren’t the fans or the press, or even his colleagues. Grading Alderson are the Wilpons, who are passing him with gold stars because he is doing exactly what is expected of him.

Alderson was brought in here at the urging of Wilpon’s friend, Commissioner Bud Selig, with the purpose of bringing some stability by slashing payroll for a floundering franchise.

To that degree, he has done his job.

Alderson acted to clean up the Mets’ toxic contracts by cutting Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and despite it being too late, finally Jason Bay.

He also traded Carlos Beltran for prospect Zach Wheeler, and got rid of Francisco Rodriguez, who embarrassed the team by getting into a fight with his father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

Best of all for the Wilpons, is he took the Mets into the 2012 season with a $100 million payroll, some $43 million less than in 2011. A good part of that was because of the decision to let go of Jose Reyes, thereby shedding the Mets of another potentially burdensome contract for a player with an injury history.

Doing so might help the Mets extend the contracts of Wright and Dickey, that is, if the team wants to make that call. As of now, talks seem stagnant.

The Mets have a myriad of holes and issues, with few immediate answers. On the plus side are young pitchers Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Wheeler to give them a promising rotation from which to build.

Losing Wright and Dickey would be damaging to the Mets on the field, but they will benefit from compensatory draft picks. At worst, the Mets restart their rebuilding program, but they would further reduce payroll.

There are voids in the bullpen and outfield, and also questions in the rotation and at catcher.

Clearly, they are several years away, and based on that Alderson should be strongly judged.

However, the criteria the Wilpons are using to evaluate Alderson is in reducing payroll and toward that end, he is passing the test.

Alderson has already been evaluated by the people whose opinion of him matter most.

Nov 21

Wilpon Lays Out Scenarios For Wright And Dickey

At least they are talking.

Mets CEO Jeff Wilpon said there’s dialogue between the team and David Wright and R.A. Dickey, then added he’s optimistic about keeping them.

WILPON: Facing a future without Wright and Dickey.

What else is he going to say? “No, I think they’ll both leave.’’ Yeah, that will sell a lot of tickets.

You have to be skeptical whenever any side in a negotiation says something on the record, as much of the time it is posturing and sending a message to the other party. Parties will talk with the media when it is their best interests.

The most interesting thing said was having a preference to letting them play out their options and taking the draft picks rather than orchestrating a trade. That’s the route they chose with Jose Reyes after not even making an offer. This time, numbers have been exchanged.

Draft picks are cheaper than major league players. It also makes one wonder if they don’t believe they’ll get much in return, or would be able to keep the new players.

Reportedly, Wright is seeking a seven-year, $125-million package, while the Mets are offering much less.

How far is the divide? I don’t know, but presumably the Mets are offering roughly $100 million over five, which isn’t bad, but not a superstar deal.

I’m not crazy of deals longer than five years because of the injury factor, so I’d inclined to front load the contract.

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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.