Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Mets morning briefing 2.23.11
By Adam Rubin
Lots of meetings Wednesday morning for the Mets, as they do back-to-back sessions on security and dealing with the media.
On to the news reports ...
• Maybe Fred and Jeff Wilpon will sell more than 25 percent of the Mets -- while not giving up control. Steve Greenberg, the man charged with finding investors, tells The New York Times: "Let's just say that a noncontrolling stake could be north of 25 percent." Authors Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson write: "Several investors who have stepped forward publicly and others who have formed groups privately have said they want either a majority share of the team or an option to obtain control of the club over time. While the process is just beginning and teams are rarely sold quickly, several bidders have applied to Major League Baseball to be approved to examine the Mets’ books. Bidders must prove that they have the financial wherewithal to buy the one-quarter share being sold -- a stake that could cost at least $100 million -- and the background that will make the other 29 owners comfortable with them."
• The Post's Mike Puma reviews Ike Davis' tale. Poised to be the Triple-A first baseman last year, that changed when Daniel Murphy injured his right knee the final week of spring training and the Mike Jacobs/Fernando Tatis platoon didn't work out. Now, Davis is a recognizable figure in New York. "In New York I got noticed last year," Davis tells Puma. "If they follow the Mets at all, I don't look like anyone else. I'm very tall. I have a beard, a big nose, what are you going to do? I've got to stand out in a crowd a little bit."
• Terry Collins originally did not think Carlos Beltran would participate in full workouts with the team at this point in addition to his leg work. But Beltran has done so, and now Collins is prepared to use him at DH during early Grapefruit League games. The Mets have an intrasquad game Friday, then open official Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Braves in Port St. Lucie with Jenrry Mejia on the mound. Read more about Beltran's usage in Newsday.
• Union chief Michael Weiner and the MLBPA visit every camp by the end of spring training, and the Mets were second on the list. Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, Weiner said he was assured by the commissioner's office that the ownership legal issues would not impact players' guaranteed contracts or the operation of the team going forward. He also said he had full faith the Mets would act appropriately and use Francisco Rodriguez in a manner to win games and not pull any funny business that would jeopardize the closer reaching 55 games finished. That total would vest K-Rod's contract for 2012 at $17.5 million. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Daily News, Star-Ledger and Wall Street Journal.
• Steve Popper in the Bergen Record discusses Fernando Martinez, the one-time top Mets prospect who signed for $1.3 million at age 16 in 2005, during Omar Minaya's first period signing international free agents. Now 22, Martinez has developed an arthritic right knee and has averaged 77 games per professional regular season due to injury. "It's not that you doubt the talent," assistant GM John Ricco tells Popper. "It's getting the [at-bats]. If not, that's in the equation. Angel Pagan was a similar case. Everybody knew he had the talent, but you start to say, 'OK, how long can we go?' At some point he's going to have to stay healthy."
• Right-hander D.J. Carrasco's last full year as a starting pitcher was 2005 with the Kansas City Royals. He suffered a shoulder injury that September and was released after the season, notes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Carrasco is technically in the rotation competition, but he's likely to settle into a bullpen role and will be on the roster after signing a two-year, $2.4 million deal. Writes McCullough: "From 2008 to 2010, Carrasco maintained a fielding-independent pitching mark (which removes fielding from the ERA equation) below 3.75 each season. He maintained a 2.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed a homer about once every 18 innings."
• Trustee Irving Picard is diversifying to other team's former players. Former Islanders great Bobby Nystrom is the subject of a $1 million clawback lawsuit in the Bernard Madoff mess, Newsday broke. ... The Wilpons want documents from Picard, which you can read about in The Wall Street Journal.
• The Times tells you how you can buy a T-shirt that reads "Madoff" in Mets' script and colors. Classy.
• This is as far as I want to drift from Mets coverage, but Picard is suing the family of a top Security and Exchange Commission lawyer in a $1.5 million clawback lawsuit, the Daily News reports. The article does note the defendant "was not an SEC employee at the time of the estate transactions involving his mother's account. He returned to the SEC in 2009." According to the report, the lawyer became an executor of his mother's estate, which included a Madoff account, in 2004, and liquidated it in '05 at a profit. He had served as the SEC's general counsel from 2000-2002 and then from 2009 until recently. The report claims to be a "gotcha" by asserting that he should have disclosed that when he returned to the SEC. The Daily News then finds someone to assert that should vindicate the Wilpons.
• Marty Noble at MLB.com profiles likely backup outfielders Scott Hairston and Willie Harris. I had previously documented Harris' catches against the Mets in recent years with the Nationals and Braves. Hairston also had a stellar one as a Padre against David Wright, Noble recalls -- a lunging catch in left-center during what was three straight 2-1 losses by the Mets at Petco Park in June 2008. "I thought I had a chance for three RBIs when Scott got me," Wright tells Noble. " But Willie Harris has killed us -- what? -- seven or eight times?"
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro also tackles Harris, figuratively. Writes Vaccaro: "I like to think of myself as a closer in the outfield. ... Outs are so hard to come by in the major leagues. If a pitcher knows he can rely on you to deliver them when he absolutely needs one, that's a big plus."
• From the out-of-town newsstand, I highly recommend reading new Brewers ace Zack Greinke discussing his social anxiety disorder, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
• Meanwhile, Mets beat writer David Waldstein of the Times had to drive south to Miami to track down Isiah Thomas regarding his role in the Carmelo Anthony deal, so we'll give him a plug. "I have no comment on that," Thomas said, while acknowledging: "I always want to see the Knicks do well, and I want to see Jim [Dolan] do well."
BIRTHDAYS: Bobby Bonilla, who works for the Players Association, turns 48. More relevant to the Mets, he goes on the payroll on July 1 for 25 years at $1,193,248.20 annually as part of a deferred compensation agreement from his playing days. ... Ron Hunt, the first Met to start an All-Star Game, in 1964 at second base, turns 70. ... '69 Met Ken Boswell turns 65. ... John Morris, who primarily played for the Cardinals during seven seasons in the majors, turns 50. He has no affiliation with the Mets, but did play high school ball for Mepham High School on Long Island before attending Seton Hall.