Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Mets morning briefing 3.21.12
By Adam Rubin
Johan Santana will attempt to up his pitch count to 80 in his fourth Grapefruit League start as the Mets travel down I-95 to Jupiter to take on the Cardinals this afternoon. Also scheduled to pitch: Miguel Batista, Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta. Jake Westbrook starts for St. Louis. Bullpen catcher Eric Langill, after serving a team-imposed seven-day suspension following a DUI arrest, is listed for the trip, according to the Record.
Wednesday's news reports:
• Jeff Wilpon golfed with Terry Collins on Monday and was visible at the Mets' spring training complex Tuesday, but Sandy Alderson spoke to the media on behalf of the organization. Alderson suggested the owners' settlement of the Bernard Madoff-related lawsuit resembled clouds parting over the organization. The GM said the Mets were on much firmer footing with the clawback lawsuit resolved and with a $240 million infusion of capital from minority investors. While Alderson said the Mets still primarily will focus on their farm system, the GM noted the positive financial developments will make it easier to have the option to pursue free agents. Alderson added that the developments do not materially change how the organization will deal with David Wright as free-agency eligibility approaches. Alderson also did not promise the payroll would rise next season from this year's roughly $91 million. Listen to a podcast of Alderson's comments here. Read more in the Post, Journal, Times, Record, Newsday, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• The Mets formally announced the sale of 12 ownership shares at $20 million apiece, although they did not identify the investors. Fred Wilpon previously has acknowledged SportsNet New York would buy four of the shares. Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, who is Fred Wilpon's brother-in-law, purchased two others. The Times reported three of the shares are actually going to family members and that only five shares -- worth $100 million -- are from outside investors. The Wall Street Journal outed two investors who combined to purchase part of one 4 percent, $20 million block -- Bob Pittman and Kenneth Lerer. The infusion allowed the Mets to pay off a $25 million emergency loan from Major League Baseball as well as a $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America, the team announced.
• Andres Torres departed after two innings on Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals after suffering a strained left calf muscle. With Scott Hairston (oblique) still sidelined, Collins resolved to take a look at left fielder Jason Bay and infielder Jordany Valdespin in center field. Torres hopes he is day-to-day and the injury is not longer term. Hairston started to work out with teammates Tuesday, but is not yet swinging a bat and is iffy for Opening Day. Read more in the Daily News, Record, Post and Newsday.
• Wright said he is purposefully taking "baby steps" in returning from his abdominal muscle tear. Collins hoped to have the third baseman in a game this weekend, or no later than early next week. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• The Mets snapped a nine-game winless streak in Grapefruit League play with a 2-0 victory against the Nats on Tuesday night at Digital Domain Park. Dillon Gee contributed 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Lucas Duda had an opposite-field solo homer against phenom Stephen Strasburg. Ruben Tejada played five innings in his first game action in nine days and turned a pair of double plays with Daniel Murphy. The Mets are now 4-11-1 in the Grapefruit League.
• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey allowed three earned runs in six innings for Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. Jean Luc Blaquiere had a two-run homer in the Bisons' 4-4 tie with the Miami Marlins' top affiliate. Read the minor league recap here.
• A team official said the Mets do not intend to sign any of the left-handers on the market -- C.J. Nitkowski (who auditioned in Port St. Lucie), Hong-Chih Kuo, Scott Kazmir or Dontrelle Willis. Willis actually is headed to the Baltimore Orioles, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports.
• Ken Belson in the Times notes the trustee recovering funds for victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme and the Wilpons are now allies. That's because every dollar trustee Irving Picard collects on behalf of victims helps defray the $162 million settlement amount to which the Wilpons agreed. The Wilpons are entitled to apply to recover $178 million in losses, which will lessen their settlement burden. "In a sense, we’re now partners,” Picard's chief counsel, David Sheehan, said according to Belson. “They have an interest in us getting 100 percent recovery and they should be supportive, and we will be supportive by trying to collect all those funds.”
• Columnist Harvey Araton in the Times says there is no secret method to energize a fan base and give it hope: Just spend money. That will continue to be easier said than done with the Mets. Writes Araton:
Winning apparently clears the slate and cleanses the soul. Wilpon could spend the next few years climbing trees, saving cats and parking fans’ cars. They won’t stick with him if his team can’t play. Fans in the 21st century, often feeling like victims of another kind of Ponzi scheme, are just willfully blind that way.
TRIVIA: Which player in Mets major league camp was selected with the earliest pick in the draft?
Tuesday's answer: Bubba Bell led Triple-A Buffalo in stolen bases in 2011 with nine.