Mets Merized Online » Wilpons http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 30 Jan 2016 05:07:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.12 Going, Going, Gone: Cespedes Could Snare $150 Million Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/going-going-gone-cespedes-could-snare-150-million-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/going-going-gone-cespedes-could-snare-150-million-deal.html/#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2015 17:31:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=193537 Cespedes Yoenis

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets will be one of many teams that will be pushing to sign free agent Yoenis Cespedes beginning in November.

While Mets people won’t discuss it publicly, writes Heyman, word is they are expected to make a serious play for Cespedes, whose willingness to play center field has been a huge plus, not to mention all the well-timed bombs he’s hitting.

“The reasons they’re not talking about their intentions are two-fold; they don’t want to set fans up for a potential disappointment, and they don’t want to detract from what’s transpiring on the field, which is nothing short of special.”

Heyman believes the Giants, Rangers, Mariners, Phillies, Angels, Cubs, and Yankees will be among the teams with serious interest in Cespedes, who will be the premier outfielder available this Winter.

On Sunday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo sports spoke to six agents and general managers who believe discussions with Cespedes will begin at $125 million and end up perhaps in the $160 million range.

Almost echoing everything I said on Thursday, Passan writes that how the Mets ultimately handle Cespedes, will be a referendum on the Wilpons. Either they can act like owners of a big market team or they can remain the NL East paupers.

“The Mets used their Bernie Madoff-induced poverty to enter into this unbecoming period where they don’t even bother to meet with the marquee free agents because they wouldn’t dare wade in that financial pool.”

“The story goes the Mets were rebuilding, though that was just a red herring…They forced general manager Sandy Alderson to try and win with the resources incompatible with such a goal.”

Passan asserts that Alderson and the Mets got good in spite of ownership because of a solid player development apparatus.

On Thursday, I speculated it would take at least $150 million and likely more to sign Cespedes this winter, so I was in the same range as Passan’s expert panel. I also wrote:

“The way the Wilpons have done business over the past ten years, it seems very unlikely to me that the Mets will do anything more than put up a good pretense and ultimately retreat to the usual “we tried” white flag.”

All media outlets owned or controlled by the Wilpons have already begun the whisper campaign against Yoenis Cespedes.

On Wednesday and Friday night, the topic was broached by SNY’s Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez who highlighted all the negatives about signing Cespedes.

During one play when Cespedes swung and didn’t run to first after appearing to hurt his thumb, Cohen surprisingly said “what an embarrassment.”

During one Mets Post Game, show Nelson Figueroa laughed when asked by Gary Apple if the Mets had any chance at signing him. Then went into him “not always hustling” and “not being a team philosophy kind of hitter.”

Although I personally didn’t hear it, a reader also told me that Howie Rose said during a broadcast on WOR that Cespedes does not feel comfortable with all the media attention in New York and that he is not a big city guy.

On MetsBlog, Matt Cerrone also highlighted the same downside and negatives that were pointed out by Gary Cohen and concluded, “ I don’t know that he’ll be worth paying, say, $25 million a season when he’s 34-years-old. Do you?”

Back when Nelson Doubleday was running things, he overruled the Wilpons and signed Mike Piazza. At the time the Wilpons and their cronies were saying the same things as you are hearing now about Cespedes.

If Cespedes got you into the postseason during the first five years of his likely seven year deal, would you care that much about his last two years?

Did you care about Piazza’s last two years and wish we had never signed him? Of course not.

And remember that Cespedes is clearly a much more athletic specimen than Piazza ever was and would likely be productive well into his age 34 season.

But anyway, once the Wilpon propaganda starts doing their thing we all know the eventual outcome. So you may as well kiss any chance of signing Cespedes out the window.

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MMO Original: Pay The Man http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-original-pay-the-man.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-original-pay-the-man.html/#comments Sat, 12 Sep 2015 10:51:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=193340 yoenis cespedes

A lot of Mets fans are asking the same question these days, what will it take to sign Yoenis Cespedes to a long term deal? Well, lets look at some dollar numbers.

$1.5 Billion per year through 2021 … That’s what MLB has coming through national television deals. There are also local television deals, which have also increased.

$99,663,329 … The current Mets payroll. Twentieth in baseball, right behind the Minnesota Twins.

4,689 … That’s the average increase at Citi Field in number of fans per game compared to last year.

The increase in attendance, when multiplied by 81, and again by $25.30 (average Citi Field ticket price), gives you more or less a $10 million dollar bump in revenue over the course of the season. That doesn’t count things like parking – even 1000 extra cars per game at $22.00 a car generate another $1.7 million. Then there are concessions, SNY profits, national television dollars, merchandise and other miscellaneous money makers. Projecting a $15 million dollar boost in proceeds is not a stretch. That doesn’t even count what the team stands to make should they make it into the post-season, which is looking more likely every day with their magic number down to 14.

It’s a nice little bonus for the Wilpons, who incidentally have already restructured much of their debt.

Here’s another number: $37.6 million … That’s how much salary is coming off the books this off-season. Colon, Murphy, Cespedes, Parnell, Clippard, Uribe, Blevins, O’Flaherty, Johnson, and others, are all reaching free agency. The Mets will have flexibility. If you add revenue increases to salary relief you are looking at over $50 million in potential spending money.

A few years ago many of you may recall how Sandy Alderson explained how payroll was contingent on gate proceeds and that as revenues went up, so would payroll. Fans should not forget that, a deal is a deal — we show up, Sandy spends … no backsies.

The notion that the Mets might not be able to afford Cespedes is absurd. The Mets have the money, and for the first time in his career Cespedes is at the center of a baseball phenomenon and an astonishing offensive turn-around. New York is the place to be right now, and Cespedes is the star attraction. It’s a marriage made in Mets heaven.

I don’t know where the Wilpons are financially, I don’t know that anyone but the Wilpons and their accountants do, but I do know that the Mets not only will enjoy additional revenue this season, they will in all likelihood benefit from even larger increases next season. The Mets currently possess the third largest year to year increase in attendance in baseball, behind only Kansas City and Houston.

I also don’t know whether the Wilpons’ Willets Point Development will ever get off the ground having just received a standing eight count in court. Apparently De Blasio is no Bloomberg and there is a standoff over just how much affordable housing will go into the deal. But the real stumbling block is the “eminent domain” claim over park land slated to be developed. It’s one thing to build a ballpark on park space, quite another to build some sort of monstrosity shopping mall half a century after the original ballpark opened.

Nevertheless, the Mets, as a financial entity, are doing just fine these days. Oh we can write letters to Mayor De Blasio telling him to please rubber stamp the development contingent on the Mets signing Cespedes, but lets not get desperate just yet.

If the Mets really had $160 million on the table for Robinson Cano, they can scrape together $180 million over 7 years for Cespedes. It wouldn’t make business sense not to sign him … and in the end, it’s probably not even the Wilpons’ call. Oh sure they have to approve the expense, but Sandy Alderson has the flexibility to fit Cespedes into the budget without increasing payroll. Playoff teams generate, on average, $20 – 30 million more in revenue than non playoff teams, so if Cespedes leads the Mets to the promised land and helps us contend for the next few seasons, he will in a very real sense be paying for himself.

Sandy Aldersons oft-touted “sustainable flexibility,” staggering larger contracts so you can make big moves when you have to, appears to be in full swing. It is remarkable that in spite of the Mets’ post-season trajectory, they are looking at substantial salary relief. Think about that for a second, on a year when they look to be headed to the playoffs they will see almost half their payroll come off the books! You couldn’t have planned it better, unless you were Sandy Alderson and you actually did plan it.

The Mets will retain their 5 day negotiating window at the conclusion of the World Series when they can make an exclusive pitch. Cespedes will probably see what the rest of baseball has to offer and make his decision, but the Mets, given their revenue increases and payroll relief have as good a shot as anyone to sign Yoenis.

And we absolutely have to sign this guy. As I write this he’s gone 3-for-5 with a homerun and 3 RBI – just another night at the office. Yoenis Cespedes has been the perfect addition to the 2015 Mets, and no crowing about his one misstep in the outfield or whether he’ll be worth it at 34 will take away from that. When Cespedes is 34 he may have already taken us to the post-season several times with perhaps even a world title in the mix. I’ll take a couple of off-seasons with that in a heartbeat.

There is really no argument here. Yoenis is still technically 29, he is built like a tank, Greek God or beast (take your pick), has great speed, can play all the outfield spots, solidifies the middle of the order, and he does it in New York.

I could see being tentative if the Mets were broke, they’re not, they’re reeling in at least $25 million in additional revenue through gate proceeds alone over the next two years and enough payroll flexibility to easily add a big contract. The Mets should even have room to spare should the Wilpon’s decide they want to use a portion of their new proceeds to pay down debt … but a promise is a promise Sandy. We showed up … now it’s your turn.

Pay the man.

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Mets Expected To Make Serious Bid For Cespedes, But How Serious? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-expected-to-make-serious-bid-for-cespedes-but-how-serious.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-expected-to-make-serious-bid-for-cespedes-but-how-serious.html/#comments Fri, 11 Sep 2015 17:07:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=193285 Cespedes and Duda

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets will be one of many teams that will be pushing to sign free agent Yoenis Cespedes beginning in November.

While Mets people won’t discuss it publicly, writes Heyman, word is they are expected to make a serious play for Cespedes, whose willingness to play center field has been a huge plus, not to mention all the well-timed bombs he’s hitting.

“The reasons they’re not talking about their intentions are two-fold; they don’t want to set fans up for a potential disappointment, and they don’t want to detract from what’s transpiring on the field, which is nothing short of special.”

Heyman believes the Giants, Rangers, Mariners, Phillies, Angels, Cubs, and Yankees will be among the teams with serious interest in Cespedes, who will be the premier outfielder available this Winter.

It may take at least $150 million and likely more to sign Cespedes this winter, and given the way the Wilpons have done business over the past ten years, it seems very unlikely to me that the Mets will do anything more than put up a good pretense and ultimately retreat to the usual “we tried” white flag.

In fact, if you heard the game broadcast and then the post game on SNY Wednesday night, the topic was broached and the crew highlighted all the negatives about signing Cespedes.

Last night when Cespedes swung and didn’t run to first, Gary Cohen said “what an embarrassment.” The guy was in pain.

Nelson Figueroa laughed when asked by Gary Apple if the Mets had any chance at signing him. Then went into him “not always hustling” and “not a team philosophy kind of hitter.”

Also, on SNY MetsBlog this afternoon, Matt Cerrone writes “ I don’t know that he’ll be worth paying, say, $25 million a season when he’s 34-years-old. Do you?”

Back when Nelson Doubleday was running things, he overruled the Wilpons and signed Mike Piazza. At the time the Wilpon and their cronies were saying the same things as you are hearing now about Cespedes.

If Cespedes got you into the postseason during the first five years of his likely seven year deal, would you care that much about his last two years? Did you care about Piazza’s last two years and wish we had never signed him? Of course not.

Plus Cespedes is clearly a much more athletic specimen than Piazza ever was.

But the point is that when the Jeff Wilpon paid brigade is downplaying and shedding negative light on any free agent including our own, you may as just well kiss any chance of signing them out the window. And Cespedes is no different… Sad to say…

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Mets and Cespedes Agree To Waive Clause Governing 5-Day Signing Window http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-and-cespedes-agree-to-waive-clause-governing-5-day-signing-window.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-and-cespedes-agree-to-waive-clause-governing-5-day-signing-window.html/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 14:20:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192823 USATSI_8788370_154511658_lowres

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the New York Mets and Yoenis Cespedes have agreed to amend the clause in his contract that gave the Mets only five days to sign him after the World Series.

“Thus, rather than be under a short-term constraint to decide whether to sign Cespedes as a free agent, the Mets can let the process play out and be like any of the other 29 clubs that can negotiate and sign him at any point this offseason.”

The Mets, however, are still unable to extend Cespedes a qualifying offer.

The sides agreed to the alteration in the past 10 days.

This doesn’t mean that they are suddenly going to dish out the $150 million Cespedes is sure to get, but it mutes the conversation at least until the  rest of the regular season and postseason.

It’s a well played strategy by the Wilpons and their legal team. And Roc Nation maintains a vested interest in keeping the New York Mets in the bidding process.

* * * * * * * *

The Cuban Missile Yoenis Cespedes continued his offensive assault against the Washington Nationals on Monday, going 3-for-5 with a home run, two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in a stunning 8-5 win.

“I’m just going out there and concentrating on hitting the ball hard,” Cespedes said. “I don’t try to go out there and do too much. I just go out there and try to have fun and do my part. I put a little piece on my plate try to help the team to win.”

Cespedes, 29, continues to draw comparisons to Mike Piazza as one of the greatest trade acquisitions the Mets have ever made.

“There’s a reason why we went and got him, and there’s a reason why we traded what we traded to get him,” manager Terry Collins later said, speaking about the trade with the Tigers that brought Cespedes to the Mets.

However the big question that everyone is asking is will the Wilpons shell out the dollars to keep this potential MVP from bolting for free agency?

“I don’t really know what they are thinking, but my plan is to go out there and have fun,” Cespedes said of possibly re-signing with the Mets. “I enjoy the team. It’s a really great team. I love the city of New York, I love the fans and what we’ve got going here is a really good thing.” (Kristie Ackert, Daily News)

In 34 games since joining the Mets, Cespedes has driven in an astounding 31 runs and has produced a 1.7 WAR, more than double that of any other Met player.

He is hitting .311 with 13 home runs, eight doubles, three triples, 31 runs scored and four stolen bases since the Mets acquired him, and he is 13-for-28 during his last six games, batting .464 with a 1.214 slugging percentage.

Cespedes has a clause in his contract that releases him within five days of the World Series if the Mets don’t sign him before then. He wouldn’t be eligible to re-sign with the team until May 15 of next year if he hits free agency.

For years the Wilpons and GM Sandy Alderson have said that once fans began to fill Citi Field, the team would increase payroll accordingly. Since acquiring Cespedes, the Mets have filled the park during every single home game including four sellouts with standing room only.

So will Cespedes stay? Or will the Wilpons let him go? And if that happens, how in the world will they replace his MVP-caliber production which has been the impetus for the Mets’ offensive turnaround?

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You’ve Met The Citizens, Now Meet The Mayors Of Panic City http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/youve-met-the-citizens-now-meet-the-mayors-of-panic-city.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/youve-met-the-citizens-now-meet-the-mayors-of-panic-city.html/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:23:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185495 Wilpons

On Sunday, general manager Sandy Alderson walked by the media at Citi Field after the Mets completed a sweep of the Reds and said to reporters: “Here they come, the citizens of Panic City.” (Adam Rubin, ESPN NY)

Despite the high of sweeping the lowly Reds, Rubin thinks it may be premature for Sandy to start crowing. “Perhaps it is not time to gloat just yet about the Mets’ success since opening a trip to Toronto, Atlanta and Milwaukee with an 0-7 record.”

I don’t know about that, there’s nothing wrong with Sandy feeling chipper after watching Steven Matz capture the city with a major league debut that won’t soon be forgotten. I don’t have any problem with that and I thought it was funny.

But does the shoe fit? Are the Mets media and fans truly the citizens of Panic City? Of course they are.

But if we’re the citizens of Panic City, it’s only because of those who have presided over Panic City, namely the progenitors of our panic-stricken selves, the Wilpons.

On the heels of all our fears lies an ownership who feeds our instability by virtue of their many less than forthright actions and words, an apparent air of mistrust, and a severe lack of tact and altruistic intentions.

Their hubris and frequent incompetence stands as a testament – or better yet monument – set right in the town square of Panic City.

Over the last decade, no other fan base has been as brow-beaten and punched in the gut by its team’s ownership as Mets fans have. And because of that, we have a heightened sense of fear that envelops our hopes and thwarts our once proud Ya Gotta Believe nature. Our faith has been replaced with skepticism. So pardon our anger and frequent frustration.

The lack of trust between the fans and their out of touch owners creates a paranoia that makes it sometimes difficult to truly immerse one’s self in the magic of a moment. Too many untruths. Too many failures. Too many embarrassing moments. Too many letdowns. And far too many money grabs.

So while Mets fans are often viewed as being bipolar in their fandom, due mostly to an ownership incited chaos, don’t mistake that for anything less than a true love and devoutness for our team. The Mets and their fans are like star-crossed lovers. We are soulmates.

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When The Bullet Hits The Bone http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-the-bullet-hits-the-bone.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-the-bullet-hits-the-bone.html/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 03:16:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=176035 josh edgin

I wanted to share a conversation I had with a follower on Twitter tonight. It started out talking about Cesar Puello, but quickly veered into the Josh Edgin situation and how I believed the Mets dropped the ball this Winter by not bringing in a proven lefty reliever – which by the way was supposed to be one of the three team stated offseason goals.

twitter convo

Then, as I took one quick look at my reader before closing shop, I came across an article by Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal who writes:

“When the Mets first outlined their priorities for this off-season, they made it clear that they expected to acquire a second established, left-handed relief pitcher to complement Josh Edgin.”

“But as time slipped away, so did the team’s zeal for accomplishing that goal. What started as a must-do devolved into a hope-to-do…then a would-like-to-do…then a probably-won’t-do—until they never bothered to do it at all. ”

Obviously the two of us are on the same page as he too believes this is one Mets offseason decision that could have big consequences for the team.

Yes I know they have Sean Gilmartin and Scott Rice, both former is looking more and more like he’ll be returning to his former team, and the latter said he has no feeling in his elbow on Monday.

What boggles my mind is how you can go from a posture of wanting an MLB proven lefty to be the primary guy, to devolving into a new posture where untested and unproven Josh Edgin  – and his 27 inning sample size – is now your number one guy. Especially given his past problems with lost velocity and poor performance.

You want to know how freaking shit like that happens? Two words – bad ownership. An ownership who said the money was there in September and then one week into free agency the Mets rolled snake eyes and the money was all gone. No more money for a shortstop, and no more money for that proven reliever.

And some of you have the gall to email me and call me a hater for pounding on the Wilpons as often as I do? Some of you have the nerve to message me and say it’s all Sandy Alderson’s fault and not the Wilpons? Sorry buddy… Open your eyes or get your head out of the sand. I need some Tums…

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We’re In It To Win Championships http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/were-in-it-to-win-championships.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/were-in-it-to-win-championships.html/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:51:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=175396 Mets Cubs

Someone emailed me a link to an article by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. I remember seeing this a couple of weeks ago but quickly realized it wasn’t Mets related so I passed it up.

I did read it this morning and I was glad I did. I was so impressed by comments made by Red Sox owner Larry Luchino. Or maybe I was just envious.

“We’re in it to win championships,’’ Lucchino said Wednesday at JetBlue Park. “We’re not in it to be consistently second or consistently third. We want to win championships.”

Tom Werner, another of the Boston owners, added:

“We have a strong commitment to winning. We play for championships. We were all smarting over the [last-place] finish we had last year.”

“It’s our intention to play baseball in October every year. We know that we made some mistakes last year and those mistakes were compounded by injury.”

“We’re in it to win championships.”

Can you ever imagine Fred Wilpon, his son Jeff, or Saul Katz saying anything like that?

It’s so profound, so inspiring, so refreshing to hear an owner speak like that.

And you can tell by their actions, whether you agree with the moves or not, that they say what they mean and mean what they say. Nothing like the hollow mutterings we so often get from our owners.

To be honest, I usually dread having to hear anything Fred and Jeff have to say. And as for Saul, he’s the invisible man who gets his 50 percent cut of all the profits and ducks any camera or microphone in sight.

You want swagger? There it is right there in Bean Town. Swagger begins at the top.

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How Low Can You Go? Mets Peddling Relevance On A Shoestring… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/how-low-can-you-go-mets-peddling-relevance-on-a-shoestring.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/how-low-can-you-go-mets-peddling-relevance-on-a-shoestring.html/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:27:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174903 chris-rock

I had some cheap friends when I was younger. Guys who had jobs and money but who didn’t like to spend any of it. I’m sure you all remember the type. The sort who liked to spend other people’s money and never smoked their own cigarettes. Reminds me of the Chris Rock skit from “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” where he walks into a rib joint and asks “how much for one rib?” Trying to buy a single rib for fifty cents and ten cents worth of soda, “pour it into my hand for a dime.” All the while he’s got a roll of $20 dollar bills in his shirt pocket. It’s how I feel about the Wilpons.

I’ve been defending this front office’s decision not to spend on free agents all winter. There’s an argument there. You can pick up any of the NY dailies and there will be at least one article slamming the Mets for not doing more, but it’s self-serving in a way. The quiet hot stove is bad business for the back pages. It’s like “C’mon Mets, I’m trying to make a living here, what the hell am I supposed to write about all winter? The Knicks??!!” That line could be from any number of NY sports journalists. But the truth is there really weren’t many tangible upgrades available which didn’t involve mortgaging the farm.

Sadly I’m afraid that’s been a convenient ruse. The real reason they didn’t spend is the same reason it’s always been, they’re still broke. Some might argue that they’re playing the pauper lest their creditors get the best of them, stashing their assets in equities insulated from their Mets enterprise, like the Chris Rock character with the hidden wad of twenties in his pocket … But I doubt it. Given the unprecedented level of fan discontent, I think the Wilpons would spend if they could.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Minnesota Twins

Yesterday’s news on Everth Cabrera signing with the Orioles for a whopping $2.4 million was the latest indicator. I know a lot of folks out there think Everth is a miscreant and a criminal, and that may be true, but hey, who are we to judge? All I know is I had this Everth kid on my fantasy team a couple of years ago and he killed it for me with hits and steals. Now sure, maybe he was juiced up, but I don’t know that he’s not worth a shot given how perfectly he fits our needs (lead-off and shortstop) … and for 2.4 million? You could probably scrape up 2.4 million searching through A-rod’s couch cushions.

But no. Everth signs with the Orioles. The frigging Orioles of Baltimore.

Here’s the thing. Say Sandy Alderson signs Everth Cabrera to a 1 year deal for $2.4 million. What is the worst that could happen? Cabrera has a minor league option so if he bombs or holds up a liquor store he could still be sent down to work things out. Sure he’d be an expensive minor leaguer but the upside is if he hits he’d be beating out Tejada … Tejada. And therein lies the rub … in Tejada, you have the kid who used to stop at the newsstand on the way home from school to buy a Moon Pie and 6 Swedish Fish with his pocket full of nickels … in Cabrera you have the kid who would mug him before he got there. Which one would you rather have playing for the Mets? Tough question I know.

While his numbers may not jump out at you, Cabrera has one thing Tejada (and the Mets team as a whole) sorely lacks, speed. Cabrera, 28 and a switch hitter, led the National League with 44 stolen bases (on 48 attempts) in 2012. If he regains his form he is a legitimate lead-off option. Now look, I’m not saying he’s this poor man’s Rafael Furcal or anything, but the guy was running a 3.1 WAR in 2013 when he got shut down for his Biogenesis run-in. I don’t think Tejada could touch 3 WAR if he fell into a vat of PED loaded hypodermic needles in an abandoned warehouse during a full moon. He’s just not that dynamic a player.  We’re also down one Eric Young and could use those wheels, but who needs team speed? Certainly not the Mets.

At 2.4 million? I mean, that’s like Pablo Sandoval’s cheesy-snack budget. That’s the 1986 Mets’ in-flight cocaine bill for crying out loud. Pocket change right? Nope. Not when it comes to the Wilpons. Here’s the crazy part. A best case is Cabrera hits around .280 with a .330 or so OBP and around 40 steals with a 2.0 to 3.0 WAR … he essentially replaces Tejada and pushes Flores over to 2B (which makes Murphy available) providing the Mets with a pesky lead-off presence. The Mets would actually save money under said scenario because they could shed Murphy’s salary … the risk? 2.4 million.  Or, Cabrera could just replace Tejada as back-up infielder. With a year of arbitration eligibility left after 2015, if Cabrera proves a capable SS and lead-off hitter the Mets would have solved these two annoying magpies with one well placed stone.

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How cheap are the Mets? The possibility of a bona-fide lead-off option at short is not worth a 2.4 million gamble when they could simply play Flores there and bring up Hererra if and when they trade Murphy. It’s also not worth biting the bullet on Tejada’s salary should Cabrera prove more capable as a switch-hitting infield back-up/pinch runner (which I firmly believe he would). That’s pretty damned cheap folks, especially for a team trying to sell fans on this idea that they’re contenders.

The Orioles have had some success with reclamation projects … They were after all the team that gave Nelson Cruz a shot. It’s not like the Mets haven’t tiptoed into those waters, Marlon Byrd was one such player. It could be that the Wilpons, given their sterling reputation, put the kibosh on signing a guy with a lengthy and colorful rap sheet. That’s what they’ll tell us … too many  “character questions.” Don’t you believe it … this guy would have been a perfect low risk high reward gamble to throw into our middle infield mix were the Mets in a position to scrape together 2.4 million.

They are not.

They are broke.

We’re talking trawling for pennies and dimes at the fountain in the mall broke … picking cigarette butts out of ashtrays in the park broke … the Mets aren’t just “limited,” they are picking pizza crusts out of the trash and living out of a cardboard box broke.

Now Ownership has even taken to peddling relevance as if the pennant is a foregone conclusion … perhaps in the hope that they’ll sell enough tickets to actually increase payroll? Or to pay down debt? I’ll let you decide which.

And all the while they cling feverishly with their greasy fingers to this beleaguered franchise as if it’s some relic from a by-gone life buried under a heap of rags in a shopping cart, without regard to the once in a generation pitching talent whose window will close as quickly as it opened.

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Spending Does Not Equate To Success http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/spending-does-not-equate-to-success.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/spending-does-not-equate-to-success.html/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:39:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173545 Sandy-Alderson-New-York-Mets1

Cringing because the Mets failed to acquire Ben Zobrist or Ian Desmond? Love to criticize the Wilpons for running a small market team in the big apple? You may disagree with me, but I don’t their either of those opinions are valid, and I’m here to tell you why.

I know the Mets’ payroll has decreased each of the last five seasons, to the point where New York’s 2014 figure was almost $66 million below their 2009 mark. However, I do not believe this decrease in payroll is the reason that the Mets have failed to reach the postseason for almost a decade.

Baseball has changed. This isn’t the 1990s anymore. The “Big Money Free Agent” is actually hurting teams more than helping in this modern age.

Remember Michael Bourn back in the 2013 offseason? Mets fans pined for the Front Office to bring in what they considered to be the perfect leadoff hitter. When the Cleveland Indians signed the outfielder for $48 million right before Spring Training, Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons were hit with intense criticism for allowing their financial situation to negatively impact the major league team.

Howard Megdal of Capital New York wrote an article titled “Bargain-basement Mets miss out on Michale Bourn” and even our very own Clayton Collier said that “Bourn’s deal [with the Indians] sounds like a steal”

So far, avoiding Bourn that looks to be the right decision. In his first two seasons with Cleveland, Bourn has averaged a lackluster .315 on base percentage and 16.5 steals, well short of the .348 OBP and the 42 bags he swept in the 2013 season.

The Mets responded to pressure to spend and inked Curtis Granderson to a four year deal last offseason. The contract may have seemed a bit too lengthy at the time, but no doubt was his signing was well received by Mets fans.

After one season and a .227 batting average, do you feel the same way about Grandy as you did a year ago?

What about the much-debated Stephen Drew? Did he (and his .162 batting average) end up proving to be worth a two or three year deal as many wanted last offseason?

Does the name Shin-Soo Choo ring a bell? Last offseason, he was coveted by Mets fans for his speed and batting eye. He just concluded his first season (of seven) in Texas by batting .242 and stealing a career-low three bases, just a season after swiping 20 bags in Cincinnati.

There seems to be a trend here, and I haven’t even mentioned Jason Bay.

Outside the players targeted by the Mets, other notable free agents have also turned out to be busts in more cases than not.

Albert Pujols, once viewed as the unquestioned best hitter in baseball, is just an average first baseman at this point after posting a .727 and .790 OPS during his last two seasons. The 34 year old still has $189 million dollars left on his deal.

Ubaldo Jimenez, signed to a $50 million dollar deal late in the ’14 offseason, posted a 4.81 ERA in 25 starts with Baltimore and may not even earn a rotation spot in 2015.

Organizations, including the Mets, can no longer rely on the open market to provide value to the big league team. Free agent acquisitions can be useful when targeting low-risk, high-reward players that are undervalued by other ball clubs. However, clearly signing big-name players at the end of their prime does not work out for teams long term. Sadly for the Mets, those are the only players that reach the market. Even the small market Marlins kept superstar Giancarlo Stanton from reaching free agency by paying him a king’s ransom.

The lack of spending may not just be due to the Wilpons’ penny-pinching ways, but actually an effective and smart strategy designed by the Front Office. The Mets have recognized the futility that comes with free agents.

Having established the free agent market as an insufficient resource for quality ballplayers, the only real alternative to improving a team at the big league level is via trade. And despite all Sandy Alderson’s shortcomings, it’s hard to legitimately argue with his results in that area.

He brought in future star Zack Wheeler for a half-year of Carlos Beltran, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for a 39 year old with an 85 mile per hour fastball, and the Mets future starting second baseman (Dilson Herrera) paired with a lock-down reliever (Vic Black) for one month of John Buck and Marlon Byrd.

Yes, Alderson did pass on a few trades that would have netted the Mets Ben Zobrist or Ian Desmond, but trading Syndergaard for a rental mid-tier ballplayer would have been the wrong move for the franchise, regardless of the team’s current shortstop situation.

There are no quick fixes in baseball these days. Teams are overly cautious about ‘losing’ trades and the value of prospects is skyrocketing. There is only one way to build a team: from the ground up. To the Wilpons’ credit, they brought in Alderson and allowed him to execute a well-designed plan without interfering.

Now, the Mets are rich in young major league talent with big time help coming from the upper levels of the farm. With all these players under team control for years to come, the future looks brighter in Queens than it does in the Bronx for the first time in decades.

The Mets will soon enjoy sustained success, potentially even beginning this season. When that happens, be sure to thank Sandy Alderson for not succumbing to the pressure of overpaying for the big star, which, if history is any indication, would have set the franchise even further backwards in the rebuilding process.

Spending no longer equals success. Let’s take a second to be thankful that our front office, unlike the one across town, is not relying on their wallets to insufficiently build a team.

Sandy is building the Mets the right way, and soon the Mets will reap the rewards of their diligence and return to relevance once again.

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Have Your Opinions About Ownership Softened? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/have-your-opinions-about-ownership-softened.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/have-your-opinions-about-ownership-softened.html/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:19:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172726 jeff wilpon

How easily can your convictions be swayed? Is it possible that you can be so incredibly passionate about a particular important issue one day, and then a week or two later you find yourself waning and teetering, and before you know it you’ve done a complete 180 and flip-flopped on your previous firmly held conviction?

Are you the kind of person who is easily swayed? Or do you stand firm on your convictions and would need an avalanche of convincing evidence before you give even one inch?

Please take a look at parts of an email I received from a reader on Monday.

“I guess what I’m saying is that given the fact we are now poised for a great run of championship caliber baseball beginning in 2015, maybe we should start acknowledging that the Wilpons have brought us to what could be the greatest era of Mets baseball.”

“Don’t you think you should start cutting the Mets owners some slack and admit that they have brought the franchise to a point we’ve all been hoping for?”

“Who do you think signed off on the Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey trades? Who do you think was most responsible for bringing Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer to Flushing? Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia, and a bunch of other players we are now counting on, were all here already while Sandy Alderson was running errands for Bud Selig and running San Diego into the ground.”

“You could do whatever you want but I think it’s totally unfair of you to keep ripping ownership, an ownership mind you, that has brought this franchise to the brink of greatness.”

This email was very long and wordy, so I only used parts of it. You would all know who the writer was if I mentioned his Disqus ID, but my intent is not to embarrass him or any of your own opinions. As the only true Mets Fan Site, we welcome all points of views from our community. You already know this.

That said, I’m curious as to how many of you share this reader’s sentiments and have begun to warm up to Mets ownership?

Mets Cubs

As you know, there’s a Met fan who is on a quest to put a couple of “Sell the Team” billboards right in full view of Citi Field and the 7 Train platform. A year or two ago I would have guessed that the $5,000 he needed to raise would have been amassed in as quickly as 2-3 days. But with three weeks gone and one week left it looks like it’s not going to happen.

After posting his interview, no less than 10 other Mets bloggers, podcasters, and one beat writer, contacted me and asked me if I had gone nuts? Why I asked? What’s changed? Did I miss something? Their mixed responses were confusing to me.

It makes me wonder if there’s been a seismic shift in how most fans now view ownership. I read some of the comments on the interview I conducted with this fan and was surprised at how many previously known anti-ownership fans were softening up no differently than the reader who emailed me.

I almost feel as though I’m alone on an island these days and that I’m the one who is out of touch…

The truth is that despite my optimistic view of the team and my expectations for a bright future, my feelings toward ownership haven’t softened one bit.

I just can’t ignore all the tribulations that the team I love has endured since the Wilpons wrestled away full ownership from Nelson Doubleday.

Maybe I’m just being stubborn. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Or maybe I’m just astute enough to realize that what team ownership does and what the front office is doing represent two different dynamics that have nothing to do with each other aside from funding and creating the operational budget.

Or maybe it’s easier for me to separate the team’s performance and my feelings for that from the team’s ownership.

I really don’t know what the answer is, only that I know my feelings toward ownership have not swayed one bit in recent weeks or months.

Even though I believe the Mets are on the verge of some exciting and competitive playoff caliber baseball, I am as resentful against ownership today as I was in 2009.

What about you?

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Interview With Fan Behind Mets Billboard and #FREEMETSFANS Campaign http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/interview-with-fan-behind-mets-billboard-and-freemetsfans-campaign.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/interview-with-fan-behind-mets-billboard-and-freemetsfans-campaign.html/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 16:31:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172512 Billboard_3064_x_6592_(10.64_x_22.89)

Here’s a Q&A I conducted with Gary Palumbo on Friday. Salty Gary, as he is better known in the MMO community, is the Mets fan behind the Twitter account @MetsBillboard and the #FREEMETSFANS KickStarter Campaign to erect two “Sell the Team” billboards on Roosevelt Ave. – a stone’s throw away from Citi Field.

What inspired you to pursue your #FREEMETSFANS KickStarter campaign?

I was really inspired by the “Fire John Idzik” Jets billboard campaign. In this current age of social media, and other communication technologies, the Jets campaign proved there is still value in traditional media. If you don’t want to see something on an application like Facebook or Twitter, there are tools to block and ignore those messages. If you have eyes and are driving or riding on a train, you cannot block the billboard image. Getting a collective message from a fan base that cannot be turned off is very powerful and compelling.

Why is it important to let ownership know how most Mets fans feel about them?

No matter how fans view the team, the one thing that connects all Mets fans is that the Wilpons are poor owners whose priorities are not to construct a winning franchise, but lie mostly in real estate development.

They told us to be patient as they navigated through the entire Bernie Madoff mess. They also said they were going to rebuild the team through the farm system and when that team was ready to compete, then efforts would be made to further support the team financially at the Major League level to fill in the missing pieces.

The only effort that I see from the Wilpons is putting all their last dollars into building a shopping mall and more condos. That is what they want more than anything. The Mets are just a means to that end. As they develop Willets Point, if the team does happen to be competitive, it’s purely incidental and not part of a master plan.

I also feel that they often blame the fans for their small market payroll level. “Payroll is a function of revenue”. So since fans choose not to spend significant money on meaningless games in August and September, then it must be our fault that they don’t have the resources to make any necessary improvements. This is just infuriating to me and many others. In what industry do companies force their consumers to invest in a bad product before they release an improved version? Apparently that’s what the Wilpons want fans to do.

Are you seeing any support from some of the bigger voices in the Mets fan base who have large followings of their own?

Radio personality Mike Silva has been really supportive, but honestly, aside from MMO, all other major voices and sites have been very silent and seem to prefer not bringing any added attention to this project. Most of them are choosing to act like this campaign is non-existent. They seem afraid of being connected to it even if it was just to say they don’t support it. Many of the bigger voices all have some financial or professional connection to the Wilpons or the Mets and perhaps are fearful of angering the powers that be, lest they lose any access to the team or the compensation they receive from them. I can understand why they choose not to get involved and respect their decisions.

There seemed to be quite a stir on Twitter last week, with some well known Mets fans strongly speaking out against your efforts. Why such heated opposition?

Honestly, I would say there was only one that was well known, who is Darren Meenan from The 7 Line, the rest were just a couple of people that regularly complain about complaining Mets fans, or are supportive of ownership, or simply feel that the best course of action is to smile and be positive no matter what is happening with the team. I never expected that particular fan segment to support this, and they are in the minority anyway. So their opposition against this really didn’t bother me. Most of the support on Twitter has been fantastic and over 30 percent of what we’ve raised so far has come from our Twitter link.

As for Darren, I was really disappointed that he chose to speak out against this fan driven effort and was hoping for his support. He personally called our efforts “dumb” and then re-tweeted others that used much harsher words to put down our campaign. This is a guy that used a grassroots effort to create a “Life Style” clothing business and one of the best selling t-shirts he designed read, “Sell The Mets”. I can appreciate why he’s changed his stance and respect his concerns about backing a “Sell the Team” campaign, now that he’s negotiated a business relationship with the Wilpons to sell his t-shirts at Citi Field. But to call the effort “dumb” is what really disappointed me the most, it came off as being very hypocritical.

sell the team 3.0

PLEDGE A DOLLAR AND BE HEARD!

What do you say to those who would rather protest by not going to games?

I think those types of protests are extremely difficult to organize and implement successfully. There are 20 million people in our market that can possibly go, and you can’t reach all of them with that type of message or convince them to all stay at home. It’ll never happen.

As for me, I like going to games, I don’t want to boycott. I purchase the MLB channel to watch. I support the players and that is exactly why I want to do this.

To me it is the owners who are not supporting the players, not the fans. The fans love the team and the players. Everyone wants a competitive team and the owners are not doing anything to maximize that effort. When I see players like Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia, and Juan Lagares perform as they did, I become frustrated that ownership hasn’t supported them by surrounding them with the missing pieces to take this team to the next level. The team still lacks the financial resources to address the shortstop position going on four years now. This is unacceptable to me.

Ultimately, what do you hope to accomplish?

The main push-back message I hear is “the Wilpons will never sell so this effort is a waste of money”. Well if this is a waste of money then we might as well stop going to fan sites like MMO or using social media altogether to voice our frustrations or discuss the changes we would like to see happen. If it’s a waste of time and money then why complain at all?

If time is money, then all the time we spend interacting on sites or social media to discuss the Mets is far more expensive than contributing a dollar toward a billboard that will deliver a much stronger message than anything we can compose on our smart phones or tablets.

If I actually thought I could remove a billionaire from Mets ownership with just a billboard I would of gladly paid for the whole thing out of my own pocket years ago. The notion that this will force the Wilpons to sell is just silly, and only a simpleton would believe that that’s what this is all about.

Right now the main goal is to convey a message that cannot be turned off. When the billboards go up, it will be picked up by the media (that has already started) and we can let everyone know that Mets fans have upheld their end of the bargain by being patient, and that now the Wilpons have to keep up their end of the bargain and invest in this team.

METS BILLBOARD

Do you think you’ll reach your $5,000 goal to erect these billboards?

I am positive we will reach the goal as long as we keep working hard to get the message out. We needed to raise $5,000 in 30 days and we are currently at $2,667 with two weeks to go. We need to stay positive, determined and focused and this will happen.

Is there anyone helping you to drive this promotion that you’d like to acknowledge?

There is a friend that frequents this site that has really done most of the legwork on the graphics. These graphics have really helped bring legitimacy to the effort. He will remain anonymous, but he knows he is appreciated.

I also wish to acknowledge you and the entire MMO community. Joe, you have given me a forum to promote this message and have given me some great advice all along the way. The MMO commenters here have also been extremely positive and supportive both in voice and money. I also appreciate the MMO commenters that do not support the effort because the dialog has always been civil, productive and respectful, which is more than I can say about some of the other venues. I now understand why you refer to MMO as a true Mets fan site – it truly is.

I want to thank the vast majority of Mets Twitter for helping me drive home this effort. For the most part they have been very supportive and all their RT’s and positive comments have helped popularize our Mets Billboard campaign to where it’s even been picked up and talked about on satellite radio and WFAN. As I mentioned, over 30 percent of what’s been pledged has come via Twitter. Thanks to all you tweeps.

What can other Mets fans do help to promote this besides pledging money?

Just help us spread the word. If you know any Mets fans in person, talk to them about the billboard. Let them know what we’re trying to do. Bring it up at the “water cooler” at work. The more eyes and ears that know about this campaign, the more successful it will be.

Anything else that you would like to say?

I know this campaign can be seen as a negative. I appreciate that concern and trust me I never in a million years thought that I would ever be creating something like this. I love the Mets. When they have given me joy, it just feels like magic. But right now I feel like I am being duped. I don’t like this feeling and I can’t stand giving in to apathy.

Now that the team really has something going for it and is on the verge of great things, I want the owners to know we expect them to fully support this team and to provide the flexibility for the front office to do what’s necessary to bring home another championship.

I feel that this is the right moment to speak up. When these billboards are erected our message will be seen and heard far and wide, and the Wilpons will know we are a great and passionate fan base who loves their team and demands more from them.

* * * * * * * * * * *

We wish Gary good luck with his campaign and thank him for taking some time to respond to my questions. If you would like to learn more or find out how you can help, go to the official #FREEMETSFANS Kick Starter page or follow @MetsBillboard on Twitter.

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Should Mets Sign Free Agent Closer David Robertson? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/should-mets-sign-free-agent-closer-david-robertson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/should-mets-sign-free-agent-closer-david-robertson.html/#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 20:48:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171278 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v New York Yankees

Daily News columnist John Harper believes the Mets should do something “eye-popping” and sign free-agent closer David Robertson.

Harper is skeptical of the Mets closer situation and asks, “Do you really trust Jenrry Mejia?” He refers to Mejia and Jeurys Familia as a tightrope act and adds that even before Bobby Parnell got hurt he was far from a sure thing as a closer.

“Robertson showed remarkable consistency as a late-inning reliever the last five years, and perhaps most impressively, he handled the pressure of following Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer in 2014 without flinching.”

“In addition, perhaps because his fastball cuts a bit like Rivera’s, Robertson was actually tougher on lefthanded hitters than righthanders, holding them to a .157 batting average and a .213 slugging percentage.”

It’s tough to argue with the logic, Robertson would give the Mets a shutdown bullpen to go with a formidable starting rotation.

But when viewed through the prism of the Mets’ financial limitations I can’t see the Wilpons authorizing Sandy Alderson to fork over $40-45 million dollars on a four year deal for Robertson. Especially when they can turn to several internal candidates at no additional cost to the team.

Technically, if the Mets were to move Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy it would make more sense. But just last week the buzz is that the Mets prefer to keep Murphy and there has been no inquiries on Colon.

Getting Robertson would also eliminate the need for a second lefty reliever given his incredible success against lefthanded hitters.

Robertson has been lights-out the last four seasons, while averaging 65 appearances per season. Here are some of his other peripherals…

robertson stats

One more thing to note before I hit the “publish” button… Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he has not ruled out bringing Robertson back despite adding Andrew Miller before the weekend.

So what do you think? Assuming we can swing it financially, good or bad idea?

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I’ll Take “Worst Owners In Baseball” For $500, Alex… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/ill-take-worst-owners-in-baseball-for-500-alex.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/ill-take-worst-owners-in-baseball-for-500-alex.html/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:41:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168416 alex trebek jeopardy

Alex – The answer is… Because the Wilpons had no money after becoming embroiled in a second Ponzi Scheme with arch criminal Bernie Madoff.

Joe D. – Why didn’t the Mets sign Jose Reyes?

DING, DING, DING, DING, DING….

It looks like I missed out on all the fun this morning where various Mets Twitter celebs battled over why we didn’t sign Jose Reyes or why we don’t try and get him back.

jose-reyesWe can debate the pros and cons of bringing Jose Reyes back all we want, but the fact is the Blue Jays have no intentions of trading him. But that’s not the point of this post anyway.

As to why we didn’t sign him, Matt Cerrone lays out his case on MetsBlog and concludes:

“My understanding is that Sandy Alderson simply didn’t want to be paying $22 million a year to Reyes when, in his mid 30s, Jose’s legs and body would not likely be able to do the things that made him great on the Mets.”

I’m sorry, Matt, but that’s not even close to why we didn’t sign Reyes. You are asserting that if Alderson did want to sign him he could have. That’s undeniably wrong and misses the mark completely.

The Mets didn’t sign Reyes because the financial state of the team was in such distress that they could not afford him.

When the truth finally came out Sandy Alderson himself admitted that the Mets never even made him an offer.

Additionally, they didn’t even bother negotiating with Reyes when they had their exclusive window and long before the Miami Marlins were even allowed to mention his name and enter the picture.

This had nothing to do with Alderson and not wanting to invest big dollars on a player whose game relied mostly on his speed.

This was all about the Wilpons and Saul Katz putting their own franchise in a dangerously precarious position due to their utter incompetence and open-eyed involvement with the notorious criminal Bernie Madoff.

The Wilpons were still teetering on bankruptcy that offseason, and there was never any chance that Jose Reyes was getting signed at the time.

In fact, David Wright would not have been signed to that exorbitant $138 million dollar deal either had his free agency come at the same time as Reyes. This was never an either-or situation.

These facts are material and undeniable.

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The Seligification Of MLB http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/the-seligification-of-mlb.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/the-seligification-of-mlb.html/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166056 bud-selig 2

When Bud Selig came through town the other day backfiring like a rusty old Buick though a quiet neighborhood, I braced myself for what he might say half hoping he’d signal some disquiet over the recent discrimination lawsuit filed against our excellent COO Jeffrey Scott Wilpon, but there was nothing of the sort. No reservations, no concern, nothing.

“I monitor everything closely, but that’s employment litigation.” Selig croaked. “There were a lot of charges there. Jeff denies them vigorously. I think in this particular case, they’re going to court, and we’re just going to have to see how it plays out. “

I was going to respond initially with some choice barbs for Mr. Bud but I decided to spare my audience the profanity laden vituperation … Sometimes it’s better to let things settle a while.

My feelings on the subject ranged from irritation to rage to disbelief. The scene from the Lord of the Rings where Treebeard discovers that Saruman has been cutting his trees comes to mind. “A wizard should know better!” Indeed.

An 80 year old father and grandfather of two daughters and five granddaughters should know better. He could have at least thrown in, “we are very concerned about these serious allegations,” just for good merit, but no, nothing. You hope the subject doesn’t come up at the Selig Thanksgiving Day table for Bud’s sake … might get awkward … particularly as one of his daughters, Wendy Selig-Prieb,  was a baseball executive herself with the Brewers.

Fred Wilpon bud seligSome of us are lucky, lucky enough to be in professions where we work more or less unencumbered by the meddling interference of antediluvian dolts. Unfortunately blockheads and imbeciles abound in our society and the hope is that organizations serving the public interest, organizations purporting to be “social institutions,” set appropriate standards to eliminate or at least mitigate the reach and influence of said dullards. That’s the hope. Doesn’t always turn out that way though. Sometimes you are confronted with rampant nepotism and institutional bias. Sometimes you have to deal with overt discrimination, ignorance, and hostility. Sometimes you have to deal with the boss’s nitwit son.

Believe it or not I’m a fairly optimistic person. I like to try and look for the good in people even when I might be upset with them. It probably stems from my work in education. I’ve learned over the years that people, particularly kids, do so much better when you engage their kinder, gentler, positive sides, with praise and encouragement. What bothers me when I read about stories such as the one involving Jeff’s wrongdoings is the revelation that there were others present.

jeff wilponIf any of these allegations are true, it boggles the mind that the token assemblage of yes-men in the room failed to raise a single perfunctory objection. Was there a brother, a father, a husband in the room who took exception to Jeff’s antics? And please, spare me the “none of this has been proven” retort, Jeff has enough of a track record to warrant skepticism even among his most strident supporters …. All three of them.

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe it all comes down to money. Maybe my inclination to close my briefcase walk out of the boardroom and turn in my resignation should such events confront me is why I’ve never been part of such a boardroom in the first place. No one wants to risk their livelihood or their salary – honor and integrity be damned.

And that’s where we come back full circle to Mr. Selig.  I imagine Bud to be the sort of guy who would sell you a 2002 Crown Vic with a bad transmission, and then, if you tried to return it he’d point out that you purchased the vehicle “as is” …

“See,” he’d say looking down his spectacles. “Right there in the fine print.”

bud-selig 1The Mets, according to Bud, “are doing things the right way.” They are building from within. They’re fortifying their farm, undermining the salary structure, driving costs down, and showing that you can in fact run a big market team on a shoestring budget and minimize losses (or widen your profit margin). The Mets have been exhibit A in Selig’s small-marketization campaign — the Seligification of MLB …

The Mets have also shown that even when your team’s owners become embroiled in the biggest Ponzi scheme in the nation’s history they will somehow come out of it with their ownership intact if they know the right people. Yippee! You’re out of luck Mets fans. You’re stuck with crappy owners and unfortunately there’s no lemon law in baseball.

What I think most Mets fans fail to grasp is that like the dynamic in any boardroom dominated by a powerful nincompoop, there are far too many among us who will sit idly by and compromise their integrity for a bigger bonus or a fatter check.

MLB owners love Selig in spite of his enabling during the steroid era, in spite of his double standard treatment of Frank McCourt relative to the Wilpons, in spite of his blatant misrepresentation “crying poverty” during contraction talks involving the Twins and Expos, in spite of his heavy handed and manipulative treatment of the Astros… In spite of all that, the owners sit around the boardroom in adoration of their glorious pockmarked monarch. Why? Because he’s helped them make obscene amounts of cash … and, I guess, that’s all that matters?

Honor and integrity be damned.

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Featured Post: A Met Fan’s Lament http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-a-met-fans-lament.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-a-met-fans-lament.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:46:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165619 citi field

It’s hard for me to see the team I love always being embroiled in some sort of turmoil brought on by the owners themselves, namely Fred and Jeff Wilpon. How can any of us ever trust these two again?

Fueled by two Ponzi schemes, misrepresenting their impact on the team, the frequent public relations blunders, and now a sexual discrimination lawsuit, my growing disdain for the Mets owners is certainly warranted.

For too long, the Wilpons have run their franchise with varying degrees of failure and far too little success. But ever since getting caught up in the Bernie Madoff scandal, it seems as if every single move they’ve made has been in the best interest of themselves. They are not concerned with the success of the team, nor do they care about the fans. The bottom line has become their bottom line and the fans are just along for the ride.

Last year I made a personal determination about the Wilpons. I truly believed, in the deepest parts of my sports soul, that when the Mets were ready to contend and ready to win, that the money would be there to plug in the final missing pieces. I believed that while they spoke about a decreased payroll, the cash would be there when all our top prospects finally arrived and the team was at the verge of putting together a winning season.

We have finally gotten to that point, and I have never been less confident that the owners will do what it takes to put this team over the top. ‘With all this young talent’ I would think to myself, ‘how could they rationalize not spending?’ What has occurred to me of late is that this ownership group is as far from rational as could be.

For me, there isn’t a singular incident. The lawsuit by former Mets VP Leigh Castergine only added to the frustration, but I can’t call it the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just a guttural feeling at this point. It doesn’t feel like an organization that I’m proud of, but more like an out of control mess with no direction. At this point, an escape plan seems like a pipe dream.

The Mets are on the cusp of being a winning team. They could still realize that goal despite being saddled with such a dysfunctional ownership. However, the hopes of winning are dampened by the stench of antiquated ideals and small market realities. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the money shows up and that the Mets are about to enter another great age of baseball in Queens. For now, all I have is that hope.

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The Outrage Of It All: Another Violation Of Public Trust http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/the-outrage-of-it-all-another-violation-of-public-trust.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/the-outrage-of-it-all-another-violation-of-public-trust.html/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:10:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165521 Queens Flushing Meadows

My parents did a lot of embarrassing stuff when I was a kid. As immigrants who spoke very little English, they faced their share of challenges adapting to life in the big city.They once walked into a dry-cleaners thinking it was a clothing store with my mom looking at the receipts, amazed at how inexpensive the dresses were. On another occasion, having clarified the meaning of the word “boiled,” she ended up boiling already boiled lunch meat … that was some chewy ham right there.

The most embarrassing thing of all was how she’d occasionally venture out into the park spaces around our neighborhood, in search of dandelions. My friends, genuinely curious, would ask, “Hey man, why was your mom digging up the grass in the park?”  My responses would vary from, “Oh that wasn’t my mom,” to, “Our chinchilla will only eat fresh greens,” to “I think she lost her wedding ring or something.”

What I didn’t want them to know was that after she’d gathered a good shopping bag full of dandelion leaves, she’d boil them in a pot, douse them in olive oil and lemon juice and serve them to us as a side with broiled porgies from the fish store. Of course the greens were delicious and we never complained — least not as long as she promised to stay away from places where people would, you know, walk their dogs.

Little did I know then that my mother was violating the public trust. She was never cited. The Bureau of Land Management didn’t slap the cuffs on her or take away her trowel. You might recall how only a few months ago, a certain cowboy situated only a hundred miles or so from where our Las Vegas 51’s play their home games, brought about an armed confrontation with the feds over whether his cattle could graze on public land. It occurred to me that my family had grazed on public land my whole childhood and no one even noticed. Of course we didn’t eat as much as several hundred head of cattle, but still, the principle … anyway, as I continued to peruse the myriad of anti-Wilpon rants and diatribes the other day, I came across a couple of interesting pieces.

The New York Law Journal published an article on August 21st by Joel Stashenko reporting on Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez’ dismissal of a claim against, you guessed it, Sterling Equities and Related Companies.

Sen. Tony Avella and a consortium of neighborhood businesses brought a claim against the Willets Point Development asserting it violates the public trust doctrine which prohibits “non-park” projects from being built on top of parkland without approval of New York State Legislature.

A 1961 law permitted owners of the NY Mets to use a portion of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in constructing Shea Stadium, but it was understood that this law did not apply to new construction. Citi Field, it could be argued was new construction, but in so far as it effectively replaced the old outdated venue, it was deemed permissible, however, it also opened the door to broader revitalization efforts. Mendez argued,

“The public trust doctrine does not apply,” Mendez wrote in Avella v. City of New York, 100161/14. “Administrative Code §18-118[b] applies to the use of the property for a shopping mall, because it will serve the public purpose of improving trade or commerce. The legislature in designating other purposes for the use of the property has already resolved the issues related to the public trust doctrine.”

willets point

So as I understand it, parkland adjacent to Citi Field would no longer be available for the pilfering of dandelion greens or any other public use because the 27 acre site would be paved over and turned into, among other things, a hotel, an apartment complex, a movie multiplex, and a $3 billion, 1.4 million square foot mall. So you can forget about getting that discounted alternator for your 2001 Galant from your favorite chop shop.

Now you may ask, what does this have to do with baseball and the New York Mets? You can barely tolerate arugula, you say? You couldn’t care less about dandelions and the Wilpons’ behemoth development? Well, Michael Geus over at 2 Guys Talking Mets put it all together in a brilliant piece on September 8th where he in essence argued that the Mets are a toxic asset and that the Wilpons or any sane owner would cash out and settle their debts were it not for some ulterior motive.

Now I always thought the Wilpons clung to the Mets for the prestige and honor inherent in owning a baseball franchise in baseball’s biggest market, because they saw it as a family heirloom, yada yada. Geus argues it isn’t that at all, that the real reason they hold onto the team is because owning the Mets offers the WIlpons unique rights to to their little corner of WIllets Point, a.k.a. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park … our Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

So which is it? I’ve argued ad nauseam that the Mets are all the WIlpons have, a blue and orange badge of respectability, an honor like no other that gains them access to circles and country clubs and the back pages. In the grand hierarchy of New York royalty, the Wilpons would be a footnote in a real estate magazine without the Mets. On the other hand, you have this prospect that the Wilpons are really holding onto the Mets because team ownership offers them the opportunity to develop a sizable chunk of NYC park space for considerable personal gain.

jeff wilpon

The bitter irony in all of this is that Justice Mendez’ controversial decision (which is being appealed by the way), not only violates land use regulations for property held in public trust, but the Wilpons continue to violate the public’s trust as irresponsible stewards of a major baseball entity.

They stubbornly maintain control of our beloved franchise, in spite of their sweeping incompetence and staggering ambivalence to the public’s needs. Insult, say hello to injury.

It is probably some combination of the Wilpons’ desire to redeem their family’s sports legacy and the potential windfall from the massive WIllets Point development that pushes them to sustain their hold on the Mets.

My mom did eventually refrain from her old-world habit of collecting greens from the park, if only to spare us the embarrassment. It’s a shame our ownership group lacks the decency to spare us all the embarrassment of their flawed and crippling hegemony.

Sadly, no amount of embarrassment, not involvement in two Ponzi schemes, not a reputation for being one of the most ineffectual ownership groups in the game, not a sexual discrimination lawsuit, nothing short of MLB intervention or outright default will prompt the WIlpons to sell. It isn’t a matter of dignity. If there were any shred of that left they’d sell for the good of a game they purport to love. No, it is a tragic confluence of pride, hubris, and greed, that keeps our Mets tethered indelibly to their folly.

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Featured Post: Wilpon’s Legacy And A Fool’s Hope http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-wilpons-legacy-and-a-fools-hope.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/featured-post-wilpons-legacy-and-a-fools-hope.html/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:24:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165105 The 2015 schedule is hot off the presses as the Mets wrap up their sixth losing season in a row. Please try to contain your excitement.

The latest hot potato is whether or not the Mets should bring back manager Terry Collins next season… As if that will make one hell of a difference… You know what the real problem is with this team… Don’t you?

How did we get into this mess?  

Let’s face it, the Mets are really all the Wilpons have. No one cares about office buildings or investment securities, but the Mets, well, the Mets have a mascot with a giant head who lacks vocal cords — the Mets get airtime on Letterman and the Daily Show and TMZ. It is thus perhaps as good a time as any to consider how Fred Wilpon came to own our Mets in the first place and what this ownership group continues to represent for fans who desperately want to believe there is yet hope for our franchise.

nelson doubleday

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have always appeared vulnerable to the perception that they burst onto the scene as Johnny-come-lately’s (compared to old money blue-bloods like Nelson Doubleday), ascending to ownership on the wave of a real-estate boom as a couple of tenement flipping nouveau riche guys from Bensonhurst (no, not the fat bus driver and the sewer worker). Wilpon was a West Egger to Doubleday’s East Egg (if I may cite Gatsby), and Katz’ giant brass balls (of note in a notable New Yorker piece) notwithstanding, Doubleday made no qualms about his disdain for Fred.

You see Doubleday never forgave Fred for the manner in which he took over half ownership. Nelson Doubleday had even more to say about the way he was low-balled during his buy-out proceedings. N.D. considered the “first refusal” clause that Wilpon used to match Doubleday’s ownership percentage (after the sale of Doubleday & Co.) underhanded because Doubleday never intended that the Mets be part of the deal. The clause was nevertheless present in the fine print as a standard if not forthright real estate maneuver.

Down the road the two sides would end up in some nasty litigation when Doubleday balked at Robert Starkey’s appraisal of the franchise’s value after Doubleday and Wilpon finally agreed to part ways. Doubleday may have had a point as Starkey was a crony of Selig’s dating back to Bud’s Brewer days. But in the end you get the sense that Doubleday had had enough and wanted to be done with his marriage to the Wilpons.

Early in the dissolution negotiations Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reported that Doubleday openly doubted Wilpon’s ability to come up with the kind of money he’d need to buy him out and implied he’d be more than willing to purchase Fred’s share. I believe Doubleday would have bought Wilpon out in a heartbeat if he had the opportunity as he never really intended to share the Mets with Fred.

nelson doubleday fred wilpon

Doubleday knew you don’t just wake up one day hundreds of millions of dollars richer unless your dear old dad leaves it to you in a trust fund, and Wilpon’s father was just an undertaker from Brooklyn.

These comments by N.D., when looked at through the lens of the Madoff debacle (it is speculated that Wilpon’s involvement with Madoff dates back to around 1986), make one wonder what percentage of Wilpon’s new-found financing power wasn’t perhaps leveraged by artificial means.

Of course the case for Doubleday wasn’t helped by the fact that he was a pompous and obscenely wealthy eccentric who occasionally let slide anti-Semitic slurs (detailed in “Lords of the Realm” by John Helyar), but he had a knack for knowing when to splurge on the fans and when to spoil his grandchildren. Doubleday also didn’t endear himself to Commissioner Selig as a long time supporter of Selig’s predecessor, Fay Vincent.

Nelson Doubleday ran further afoul of MLB when quotes were leaked from his lawsuit against Wilpon implying the following against Major League Baseball:

“In a desperate attempt to reverse decades of losses to the MLB Players Association – MLB was determined to manufacture phantom operating losses and depress franchise values.”

If Selig wasn’t on Doubleday’s side before those comments you have to believe he didn’t have a lot of warm feelings for him afterwards.

The wording in the lawsuit specifically struck a chord that Donald Fehr and the Players Association were harping on. Selig threatened Doubleday with a million dollar lawsuit and soon afterwards T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News reported that the quote “was not written by Doubleday or his associates, according to sources.”

Doubleday eventually apologized to MLB and the commissioner’s office for questioning Selig’s integrity and for any controversial comments in light of ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. Doubleday went on to say that his lawyers worded and filed the lawsuit without specifically informing him of the implication that MLB was making attempts at systematically devaluing franchise values by drumming up artificial losses (accusations that in retrospect seem almost prophetic given Selig’s now notorious devices in this regard). Needless to say, Doubleday all but sealed his exit from the owner’s club with these actions and the Wilpon Era began in earnest.

Since that time, Doubleday has come to be seen as the magnanimous and colorful figure who presided over one World Series title and another World Series appearance. Fairly or not, he’s accepted as largely orchestrating the triumph of 1986 by hiring Frank Cashen.

From the time of purchase in 1980 when he bought the Mets from the Payson family for $21.1 million, Doubleday was warmly received as a kind of rescuer. Doubleday fulfilled that promise in 1986, and furthered his rapport with the fans by openly pushing for the Mike Piazza deal over Fred’s balmy reservations.

Nelson was well-liked by the fans and his absence left an image vacuum in the owner’s box that Wilpon never really seemed comfortable filling. Fred, on the other hand, got off to a bad start with the fans by being the thin dour-faced fellow with way too much hair gel who elbowed his way into the partnership that eventually pushed Doubleday out of the picture. Doubleday became a kind of betrayed would-be savior in hindsight, whether that designation was deserved or not.

fred wilponFred Wilpon’s efforts in filling the ownership vacuum became an exercise in how NOT to conduct a public relations campaign. Doubleday wore bright outfits and had a big personality while Wilpon’s sullen and reserved demeanor and ridiculous paranoia over his own public image led to some awkward missteps both with the press and the fans.

Wilpon seemed to become obsessed with cultivating and maintaining a sterling reputation, as he and Katz seemed to be caught in a perpetual public relations struggle against the perceived notion that there was little separating them from run-of-the-mill, moneybag slum-lords.

You can imagine Fred perhaps even feeling ostracized as a new-money “East Egger” (the Madoff proceedings might have all but cemented that perception for some), but in the end they did still own the Mets, and that was their great redeemer. The Mets are their legacy, their badge of honor, their Plaza Hotel, their claim to elite standing. If the Wilpons had a family coat of arms the Met “NY” would be at its center.

Owning the Mets gained admission for them to all sorts of exclusive circles and country clubs that only the likes of Doubleday were formerly privy to. For these reasons (among others) there is not a snowball’s chance in hell the Wilpons are going to give up the Mets unless they absolutely have no choice, unless the team is pried from their cold… Well you get the picture.

Sadly, Fred’s desire to keep the Mets “in the family” speaks to an identity driven disregard for the “public domain” component of a Major League baseball club and its loyal fan base. His own dream of bringing the Dodgers back and filling the abdicated longings of a failed baseball career and a childhood marred by the loss of his beloved team not only hints at his own self aggrandizement, but points to a profound misunderstanding of the true Met ethos. Our unique identity — born from the modernist intonations of the 1964 Worlds Fair — not only stands apart from old New York baseball culture, it is in many ways diametrically opposed to it. The Mets are all that is new and different, quirky and inventive, and of course, charming.

The Mets are lovable in losing, and occasionally boisterous and unstoppable. They are Tom Seaver and Cleon Jones and Tug McGraw and Lee Mazzilli and Strawberry and Doc Gooden and many other wildly talented players. Wilpon believed he could superimpose his own perceptions on the franchise rather than allow the fans to drive the team’s culture and heritage.

wilponThe Dodger inspired edifices and rotundas of Citi Field may seem like passing slights to the team’s true character, but they point to an owner who is hopelessly out of touch. It is difficult to envision how these owners, given their history, could possibly prevail upon whatever faculties are available to them to bring about a Met renaissance. Much like Gatsby, no amount of lavish parties or helicopter rides during spring training will convince anyone that they are legitimate to their ambitions.

Like Pandora, Wilpon has let loose all manner of calamities on our Mets, while making every attempt to shut the door on our last remaining hope; a forced sale.

But we should not begrudge Fred Wilpon’s unwavering determination to hold onto our team. He is resolute even if unable to apportion sufficient resources to effect success while standing in the way of letting another buyer do so.

For Fred, the Mets are all he has separating him from all the other filthy rich West Eggers. Citi Field is the one deed he can hold up to the snooty Doubledays of this world to show that he has something they don’t.

No, Fred’s not giving up this team, not any time soon. We’re pretty much stuck with these guys unless the team continues to crap itself for several more seasons or things take another dramatic turn for the worse. Our only real hope is that Sandy Alderson is all that he’s cracked up to be, and it’s a fool’s hope at that.

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Wheeler Wonders Why Mets Wouldn’t Spend Money http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/confused-wheeler-wants-to-know-why-we-wont-spend-money.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/confused-wheeler-wants-to-know-why-we-wont-spend-money.html/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:22:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164453 wheeler d'arnaud

Kevin Kernan of the New York Post,spoke to Zack Wheeler who has his own thoughts about what the Mets should do as far as spending this offseason.

“How could you not spend money?” Wheeler said to Kernan. “You’re in New York. I know the Wilpons. I’ve been around them awhile now. I know they want to win. It’s just a matter of putting the right pieces together, formulating it all and making a winner.’’

Wheeler also expressed his hope that he doesn’t get traded this offseason, the second time he’s made such a plea in a week.

“I don’t want to be traded,” Wheeler told Kernan. “We’re only going to get better when the guys we got here get more experience and spend a little bit of money, making trades, get some better bats and stuff.”

Yes Zack, we’re in New York, but obviously you haven’t been around the Wilpons long enough to know that they aren’t and haven’t been spending money.

And even when they were spending money it was because they were getting 15-20% growth on their funds when the rest of the country was getting 3-7%. Then the scheme fell apart.

Listen Zack, why do you think the team needs to unload Bartolo Colon‘s contract?

Why is Daniel Murphy a part of every trade rumor and hasn’t even been confronted about an extension?

Why do you think they traded Ike Davis ($3.5MM)  instead of Lucas Duda ($1.6MM)? (At least we got lucky on that one.)

Why do you think payroll went down $10 million from 2013 when all the propaganda the previous season trumpeted that it would go up?

And as for whether you’ll get traded my dear boy, it will depend on just how good you are moving forward and whether you price yourself out of the Mets plans via arbitration. Just like Murphy did, and just like Duda will a year from now.

How could you not spend money? You’re in New York? Why can’t we a build a winner?

Great questions, Zack… But don’t look for the answers inside the clubhouse, you won’t find them there.

We’ve been asking the same questions for the better part of six seasons – all losing seasons at that. Believe me, it comes easy to these owners.

Despite record revenues from their cable and blog networks, and a $30 million dollar infusion from MLB for the new national TV contract this past Spring, not a DIME went toward improving the team’s roster. Instead we saw more slashing.

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MMO Di-Jest: An Open Letter To Commissioner-Elect Rob Manfred http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mmo-di-jest-an-open-letter-to-commissioner-elect-rob-manfred.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mmo-di-jest-an-open-letter-to-commissioner-elect-rob-manfred.html/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:28:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164031 alg-wilpon-selig-jpg

Dear Mr. Manfred,

First let me congratulate you on having been elected the next Commissioner of Baseball.  I’d like to say I was your biggest supporter but you were my third choice behind Bob Costas and Mike Greenberg.  (I also have a soft spot for baseball’s official historian, John Thorn.  But John is getting up there age-wise, like myself, and we need some younger legs for that job).

I am not overly optimistic that you will be reading this letter because commissioners and commish-elects have better things to do than read baseball blogs.  But perhaps your undersecretary in charge of National League East affairs might stumble upon this and bring it to your attention.

I also know that what I am writing you about may not be atop your priority list since you have big issues to get at like shortening the length of games and retraining the Wrigley Field grounds crew in the proper way to cover the infield with a tarp.

But what I am discussing is important to me and certainly to the thousands, perhaps millions, of Mets fans in New York and the rest of the country.

Put simply you just have to help us get rid of the Wilpons as owners of the New York Mets.

We hate them – I should make that – HATE them and need someone with clout to make them go away.  And the commissioner of baseball is the cloutiest guy I can think of.

We’re all familiar with the fact that Bud Selig and the Wilpons have been tight for decades.  And, of course, we know that you owe your new job to Commissioner Bud.  So we’re hoping that he hasn’t made protecting the Wilpons a chit that he plans to cash. We have to hope that you are an independent agent when it comes to pushing bad owners out.

I can’t imagine baseball benefits from having a New York huge market franchise with one of the lowest payrolls in the game.  Your job (starting in January as I understand it) is to grow the game so that its popularity is ever increasing so the profits for owners and players increase too.

As a fan I can’t vote out the Wilpons.  Believe me I would if I could and would have zillions of people on line with me at the polls.  All we can do is avoid going to Mets home games so as not to fill the till for Jeff and Fred.  But I am only one man and can only not go to one game at a time.  I have succeeded in not going to any Citi Field games this year but must confess that in a moment of weakness I did attend a Mets-at-Rockies game.  Zack Wheeler, the bad one who preceded the now good one, got rocked early and often.  So I suppose my indiscretion was justly punished.

Having started watching baseball in the mid 1950s going to games with my father at the Polo Grounds I just don’t have an unlimited amount of time to wait for the Mets to accidentally get good again.

Sure the team has a pretty frisky farm system right now but it’s pitching heavy and every year we ship a couple of guys out for Tommy John surgery.  Without a reasonable payroll  (I’d love to see what Sandy Alderson could do with a $120 million payroll) I think the club is sentenced to one frustrating sub -.500 season after another.

You’re our best hope Mr. Commissioner-Elect.  Please don’t let us down.  Force the Wilpons out.  We’ll take our chance with whatever comes after that.

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Lies, Lies and More Damned Lies http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lies-lies-and-more-damned-lies.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lies-lies-and-more-damned-lies.html/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 16:25:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=146847 wilpon katz

1. It’s All In The Rearview Mirror

“It’s all in the rearview mirror,” Wilpon said about past financial woes last year as the 2013 spring training started, “The family is in great shape. The family really is in great shape. There’s no one in my family — there’s the Katz family, the Wilpon family, kids has any personal bank debt. Zero. Everything has been paid. We don’t owe a dollar to anybody. We have mortgages on buildings and stuff like that, but we don’t owe a dollar.”

The vast majority of people who Madoff scammed were financially devastated by his crimes, and didn’t get off as well. They lost retirement accounts, houses, everything. Some who lost the most were very close personal friends of the Wilpons, who they introduced to Madoff. Sandy Koufax, for one.

Here’s the rub. Wilpon will cry Madoff when convenient but leaves out the part that they have virtually shielded themselves from any Madoff effect by passing through the debt away from them personally when it also suits them. Wilpon also conveniently leaves out the part about taking $700 million in allegedly fraudulent transfers of principal from his Madoff accounts to help secure this personal burden.

Then there’s the $300 million in allegedly fictitious profits that kept the Mets afloat. Say what you will about clawbacks and what not, and dance around the fact that the Wilpons agreed to pay a small portion of that back, but the court records apparently showed the entirety of these withdrawals and payments were in fact made. Where did it all go? I don’t know about you, but I am relieved his family is totally debt free. Helps me sleep better at night. That is, when I’m not worrying about paying my own bills. The Mets, not so much. There is nothing but mountains of debt up ahead.

wilpon

2. Because We Can Do It

“Everything that was in the past — you guys saw the pain we went through — is gone,” Wilpon said in February 2013, “the payroll will be commensurate with anything we’ve ever done, because we can do it.”

Well, except for the part that he had signed away his control over expanding the payroll to the banks, which is entirely despicable by itself. At any rate, no such payroll increase has yet to materialize, just a kind of con man’s math. Take away, put back less, and call it a net gain. But I feel his pain. Yes, I do.

3. Make Sure That The Banks Got Paid Off All Of The Debt

It wasn’t as people had written, the reason,” Wilpon said last year, denying that the reason payroll was slashed was because of the Madoff situation. “It was a balance there. Because we had to make sure that the banks got paid off all of the debt.”

Really? Banks all paid off? Then why the lockstep celebration by some Mets fans that you just got re-financing on old debt that you were unable to pay? Here’s the reality. The franchise remains leveraged to the brink of critical mass. This new restructuring only pushed the balloon payment out 7 years. There’s several hundred million dollars of debt still attached to the club, plus the refinancing of the SNY network — said to be in excess of $700 million — and the hundreds of millions of dollars in debt on Citi Field. Even the bonds issued to finance the stadium have been rated “junk status” by Standard & Poor’s.

There are those analysts who think when you factor the net present value of those payments as debt, there is no equity value left in the Mets.

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4. I’ll Take Them At Their Word

Commissioner Selig in 2012, showing that he’s pretty skilled at double talk and enabling himself, when asked after an owner’s meeting about the financial situation of the Mets and whether the Mets had the resources to field a competitive team, revealed this:

“They (the Wilpons) said they do and I think they do. It just depends. It’s interesting how you rebuild or how you do things. Spending money doesn’t guarantee anybody anything. I want to be very careful here. As far as the Mets are concerned, I know they’re very comfortable where they are and they’re very optimistic. I’ll take them at their word.”

Why not? They’re pretty up front and transparent kind of guys, after all. Here’s the thing, though, and Selig knew this was true at the time he gave his blessings. Rarely enforced and easily manipulated, MLB has a rule that prohibits teams from operating at debt levels greater than ten times operating income. Selig already knew that the Mets and their debt-to-value ratio of 60% not only exceeded the standard, but put it in a more tenuous position than the Dodgers at the time who had a 54% debt-to-value ratio.

Like McCourt in LA who ransacked the Dodgers and depleted revenue from the operating capital for his own gain at the detriment of the LA Dodgers, how is what Wilpon has done with his debt any different? Before anyone cries that teams are not a public trust, and therefore can do anything they want with the team’s revenue, think about what happened to McCourt.

McCourt was run out of baseball by the commissioner, another Wilpon buddy from the old days, who relies on owners to back his initiatives and, well, pay his salary. New owners stepped in, who actually had the financial resources required to run a major league team, and McCourt, who had treated the team as his own piggy bank and brought it to its knees (sound familiar?) then makes a fortune in the sale. You can just hear McCourt gloating about the financial solvency of his family, can’t you? Why hasn’t the commissioner stepped in here and for the sake of the game put an end to the ownership of this franchise who can’t legitimately operate a major market baseball team — in fact, never has been able to run this team without leveraging the fraudulent activities of Madoff and his fairy tale returns almost from the start? Asked and answered.

wilpon alderson

5. He Does Not Have Restrictions

“He’ll have all the opportunity in the world to bring anybody he wants in,” team COO Jeff Wilpon said on 2011, referring to Sandy Alderson and his payroll, “The way for him to do that is to bring the ideas to us and we’ll talk about it. But he does not have restrictions. We’ll deal with everything on a case-by-case basis.”

Apparently deceitful double talk is genetic. We now know for a fact that there were payroll restrictions, a bank induced salary cap. When the news just broke that the Wilpons had restructured $250 million in debt and that, this time, the loan didn’t include payroll restrictions included in the agreement, even the hardened and the cynical had to be shocked.

Anything goes, I guess, especially when you are drowning in debt. Even if it meant running the organization into the ground, which it has. And so began the Wilpon’s convenient embrace of lowering payrolls as a testament to baseball purity, and farm system team building worship — with Sandy Alderson playing the part of the hometown sheriff coming to clean up the wild west. Only problem, who are the bad guys, and who are the good guys?

It’s one thing to have the Mets organization not be able to sustain itself because of bad contracts and when lack of winning causes revenues to drop to where it impacts the actual operation of the team. This austerity and payroll reducing and refocusing on the farm system because that’s a more pure and fundamentally sound way to build a baseball team has been nothing more than a deliberate charade to cover up the ultimate distribution of the money — back into the Wilpon’s teetering empire. Its nothing more than a pickpocket’s diversion. But, hey, have a heart. Whose going to gentrify Willet’s Point if the Wilpon’s don’t?

In the financial world, people go to prison based on the truthfulness of what they say, or don’t say publicly — especially when financial gain is tied in, or manipulation for financial gain is the intent (sort of like pumping up the team with lies to sell more tickets … to pay more debt down that has nothing whatsoever to do with the baseball team itself, which is not illegal in this case, just slimy).

While many losing teams have been turned into winners in less than three years, the GM can be patient and detached as he ‘rebuilds’ the farm system with high school players, because fielding a competitive major league baseball team befitting a major market isn’t even the primary goal. Anyone who thinks that this ownership will be able to potentially pay Harvey (assuming a return to glory) a contract in line with the $215 million paid to Kershaw, which is what it will take and which will happen before this just restructured balloon payment of $250 million comes due, is in need of longterm psychiatric therapy.

mmo

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