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Friday, March 4, 2011
Mets morning briefing 3.4.11

By Adam Rubin

The Mets snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday, and now head back to Jupiter to face the Marlins, with Chris Young on the mound.

On to Friday's news reports:

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch thought Francisco Rodriguez sounded sincere -- actually, more like sedated -- in discussing his changed demeanor off the field as the result of anger-management training in Venezuela and now in Florida. Writes Klapisch:

Anyone who’s ever seen “A Clockwork Orange” will note Francisco Rodriguez’s slightly deadened gaze and understand the Mets’ closer hasn’t changed -- he’s been changed. Re-programmed, re-wired, maybe even lobotomized. OK, obviously not that. But K-Rod isn’t the thug who police said beat up his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field last August, taken out of the ballpark in handcuffs and arraigned on third-degree assault charges.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger addresses K-Rod's outing. As does David Lennon in Newsday.

Oliver Perez was one of Thursday's topics du jour. No, he's not really in the rotation competition, even though he's getting another start during a split squad next week. The final two rotation spots, barring an injury, are going to Chris Young and Chris Capuano. And, no, Perez is not going to fit in the bullpen either with an 85 mph fastball. Here's coverage in the PostNewsday, Star-Ledger and the Record. ... The Daily News' sources come to the conclusion Perez won't be a starter too.

Terry Collins says he wants to pare the second-base competition by when the Mets return following a March 14 off-day. Justin Turner, who starts Friday's game in Jupiter against the Marlins, has minor league options remaining, making him the most vulnerable.

• After Thursday's appeals court hearing involving trustee Irving Picard's "clawback" measure -- money withdrawn less principal invested -- Picard/Fred Wilpon mediator Mario Cuomo, who was in the courtroom monitoring the proceedings, told Newsday: "The best thing that can happen is a settlement.”

Cuomo told The New York Times he had been speaking with both sides daily to try to find common ground. "There is no way to say or measure how far apart they are,” Cuomo told the newspaper. “It’s not something you can do for one year or two years. ... This is a very complicated case. It’s going to be very big, and it’s going to be very difficult.”

• As for the clawback appeal itself, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times says don't expect a decision for months. Henriques does note that net winners may not be completely out of luck in getting some of those funds back eventually. Net losers have filed for $20 billion in lost principal. Picard already has recovered $10 billion and has lawsuits filed seeking $90 billion more in the way of fictitious profits and damages, which includes the $1 billion sought from the Wilpons and Saul Katz.

• The Daily News says the Securities and Exchange Commission official who liquidated his mother's estate, which included a Madoff account, in 2005 is being invited to testify before a congressional subcommittee next week to gauge potential conflict of interest.

Deeper in the story is this news about Thursday's appeal hearing: The judges asked both sides pointed questions, with Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs saying that Wilpon, Katz and hundreds of other investors should not expect the net equity of the Madoff accounts to be based "on whatever amount Madoff made up while chewing on his pencil and staring at the ceiling."

The Daily News then found an expert to take the opposite side of that argument -- the argument advocated by the Wilpons' attorneys. The newspaper found no analyst/expert supporting Picard's basis for redistributing funds, which prioritizes victims who lost principal, even though the Associated Press' story on the hearing opened with this line: A federal appeals panel reviewing a compensation plan for former clients of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff cast doubt on claims by the embattled owners of the Mets and other investors that they have a right to keep millions of dollars of fictitious profits.

 The News writes:

Ron Stein, the president of the Network for Investor Action and Protection, a Long Island organization founded by former Madoff investors to push for regulatory reform, said after the hearing that Picard's definition of net equity is "a slap in the face to investors all around the country." Stein continued: "The trustee manufactured justification to go after innocent victims. The fact of the matter is Congress was fully aware of Ponzi schemes when SIPA legislation was passed."

Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal calculates the Mets' Grapefruit League travel for road trips at 2,752 miles, highest of any team. The Mets don't have many close neighbors anymore, with the departure of the Dodgers from Vero Beach to Arizona and the Orioles from Fort Lauderdale across the state to Sarasota. The Mets reportedly could buy out their lease with St. Lucie, which runs through 2018, but the owners have other issues requiring cash right now, so that doesn't exactly seem imminent.

• Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal says the Wilpons should sell. Concludes Rosenthal:

From baseball’s perspective, it’s too early to pass judgment on Wilpon; he deserves every opportunity to bounce back, given his years of distinguished service to the sport. I get that. I think it’s fair. But tell that to all those Mets fans who are struggling to embrace two of commissioner [Bud] Selig’s favorite words, hope and faith. What is best for Fred Wilpon is one thing. What is best for the team and the game is quite another.

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com profiles left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak, who was out of baseball in 2002 and stocking shelves overnight at Target while trying to revive his major league career following Tommy John surgery. "There were people there -- my situation was nothing compared to what they had going on," Byrdak tells DiComo about working the graveyard shift. "Everybody had a story there and we all needed a job. It was mind-boggling."

BIRTHDAY: Former Mets third base coach Sam Perlozzo turns 60. Perlozzo is now the first base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies.