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Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Mets morning briefing 3.6.12

By Adam Rubin

All eyes will be on Johan Santana on Tuesday. The southpaw makes his first 2012 Grapefruit League appearance -- and pitches in his first game since the fall instructional league. Santana will face the St. Louis Cardinals in Port St. Lucie. The Mets also will send a split squad to Kissimmee to face the Houston Astros.

Tuesday's news stories:

• Judge Jed S. Rakoff on Monday awarded trustee Irving Picard as much as $83.3 million and will allow him to attempt to collect another $303 million from Fred Wilpon, his family, businesses and charities at a March 19 civil trial. Still, Rakoff wrote, he did not believe Picard had the evidence/testimony to prove the Wilpons acted in bad faith while investing in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, meaning the judge does not expect a jury to award the additional sum at trial.

Read the ESPNNewYork.com news story recapping Monday's ruling here.

Read my analysis of what the ruling means for the future of the Wilpons as Mets owners here.

Read ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor's take here.

Read more in the Journal, Times, Newsday, PostDaily News, Capital New York and Star-Ledger.

• At the winter meetings, Scott Boras pointedly said that the suddenly frugal Mets and Dodgers used to shop in the steak aisle of the supermarket, and now they're shopping in the fruits and nuts section. Still, at that time, Boras expressed confidence the Wilpons would right the ship with the Mets.

But in comments Monday reported by Vincent M. Mallozzi in the Times, Boras was far less diplomatic.

"When they are not providing fans with the highest quality of play, and they take an attitude of 'we're going to take on a development role,' knowing that the TV contracts, the market size and such allow them revenues that far exceed many of the clubs that have to pursue those development policies, that impacts the game," Boras said, according to the report. "The major franchises who are getting the majority of revenues should provide a product, or an attempt at a product, that has the near-highest payrolls commensurate with the markets they are in. ... If a player does not perform for the betterment of their team, then teams bring in other players. On the other side, there has to be an equation where there are requirements for ownership to perform at certain levels, and if they don't, they would lose their right to own a club and be replaced. I believe if we do that, we’re going to have a better game. ... When you're seeing franchises in major markets not pursuing to the levels that the revenues and the fan base and the market provide, then I think you have an ethical violation of the game."

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests the honeymoon for Sandy Alderson should soon be over. Writes Sherman:

Sandy Alderson enjoyed the twin blessings upon his arrival with the Mets. He wasn't Omar Minaya and he wasn't a Wilpon. That has given him a grace period to do what traditionally brings wrath upon a general manager: Cut payroll and expectations simultaneously. But, fair or not, the honeymoon has an expiration date. Soon it will not matter whom he replaced or who signs his paychecks.

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record says the Mets would be kind to repay David Wright for his loyalty to the organization by trading him. Writes Klapisch:

If the money is this tight, and the team is headed toward the basement in the East, trading Wright wouldn't just be a financial necessity, it would also be an act of mercy. Consider it payback for Wright's willingness to act as the Mets' spokesman as they hurtled toward irrelevance. For the way he played hurt in 2011, taking the field with a broken back. For the way he stood by the Wilpons. Sooner or later, it'll be time to repay the favor.

• Mets players told Andrew Keh in the Times they were unfazed by Monday's legal developments. "Honestly, the only way it affects guys is the attention that we get and the questions we get asked, which we don't really know how to answer," Jason Bay told Keh. "If we had a huge presentation on it and everybody was trying to be abreast of what was going on, it might make things way worse. Honestly, I think not knowing, in this situation, for what we have to do, is huge."

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News reached out to Conor Jackson, who had a debilitating case of valley fever while with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009. "I know how bad it was for me and I just hope that's not the case for him," Jackson, who is in Texas Rangers camp, told Harper about Ike Davis. "It's something I wouldn't wish on anybody. ... I feel like a doctor on this subject. A lot of people get it and they react to it differently. It sounds like they caught it early with him, and that's the key, to get it diagnosed. It's a spore, a fungus. If you let it sit, that's when it gets bad, and people -- usually older people -- have died from it. It sounds like they got it early with Ike.

"For me it started out feeling like I had a cold, then maybe the flu," Jackson also told Harper. "It was early in the season and you're not going to ask out of the lineup just because you’re sick. So I played, I thought I could fight through it. I played about five weeks with it, and it kept getting worse and worse. I was sleeping longer and longer every day. One day I slept for 13 or 14 hours. I just felt weak and tired. Finally, I got it diagnosed with a blood test and went on the disabled list. I was taking an anti-fungus medication but I wasn't getting better. By about July I was moving around and feeling a little better, but then I'd go out and hit and I'd have to chill for a day or two because I was so tired. Finally I thought I was OK to go out on a rehab assignment and that made it worse again. It was just a nightmare."

• The Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 3-1, in Monday's Grapefruit League opener. Andres Torres reached base in both of his plate appearances, while highly regarded pitching prospect Matt Harvey walked three and plunked another while facing only eight Nats batters. Harvey nonetheless tossed two scoreless innings. For the box score, click here. Dillon Gee, who allowed an opposite-field homer to Rick Ankiel, but no other damage in two innings, was particularly satisifed with his changeup, notes Mike Kerwick in the Record. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and Daily News.

Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to three years in California state prison. Federal charges are still pending. Read more in Newsday, the Daily News and Post.

David Lennon in Newsday looks at all the questions swirling around the Mets, from the health of Santana, Wright and Davis to the financial issues hovering over the club. Wright told Mike Puma in the Post the left rib-cage issue is "more discomfort and tightness than pain."

• Santana plans to throw two innings and likely no more  than 35 pitches. Read more in the Post

• Columnist Jeff Bradley in the Star-Ledger calls the current time "the darkest days in the history of the franchise."

• Here are the Mets' minor league managing and coaching assignments.

TRIVIA: For which North American Soccer League team(s) did Mike Nickeas' father play?

(Monday's answer: Tom Glavine started on Opening Day in 2006. He allowed one run in six innings in a 3-2 win against the Nationals. Billy Wagner notched the save.)