The Mets completed their Grapefruit League schedule with a 17-15-2 mark Wednesday. This morning, they depart Port St. Lucie for Miami, with a 4 p.m. workout scheduled at Sun Life Stadium, home of the Marlins. Read the full series preview here.
On to Thursday's news reports:
• The New York Times elaborates on previous reports that Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz are not looking specifically to sell 20 to 25 percent of the team. Rather, they seek $200 million for a minority share, to be determined based on the overall valuation of the club. That's a total that could place the ownership stake at 40 percent, according to the report, but would not include a path to majority ownership. Furthermore, the newspaper states the Mets ownership family might sell a portion of SportsNet New York, but that would be a separate transaction.
Via the Associated Press, the Times lists these Mets minority ownership candidates:
- Jason Reese, the chairman of Imperial Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment bank.
- David Heller, a Goldman Sachs executive, along with Marc Spilker, the president of Apollo Global Management, a private equity fund.
- Steven Starker, a co-founder of BTIG, a global trading firm, with Kenny Dichter, a co-founder of Marquis Jets; Doug Ellin, creator of HBO's "Entourage"; and Randy Frankel, a minority owner of the Tampa Bay Rays.
- James McCann, the founder of 1-800-Flowers.com, with Anthony Scaramucci, who runs the hedge firm SkyBridge Capital.
- Marc A. Utay, managing partner of Clarion Capital, a private equity firm, and Leo Hindery, the first chief executive of the YES Network and a veteran media investor.
• SNY, meanwhile, could be dropped from the Dish Network at midnight. Writes Phil Mushnick in the Post:
Apparently, rights fee money is not an issue as much as whether Colorado-based Dish wishes to remain a deliverer of New York’s regional sports networks. It has carried SNY since its birth five years ago, but several months ago dropped MSG’s networks, and it never has provided YES.
• Jason Bay will be placed on the disabled list before the 11 a.m. deadline to set Opening Day rosters. He has a strained intercostal muscle in his left rib cage. Bay, of course, ended last season on the disabled list with a concussion, so he has not appeared in a major league game since July 25. He is eligible to return April 9, for the eighth game of the season, because of the DL backdating rule.
A source tells Newsday's David Lennon the strain is "not serious." Of course, rib-cage muscles can be tricky injuries because of the torque while swinging, so the absence could be weeks longer. Jose Reyes' oblique injury lingered for much of the summer last season because he was not shut down for a proper period of time.
Carlos Beltran tells The Times' David Waldstein about the type of injury Bay has: “That is something you have to be very careful with. It can be the type of thing that can stay with you and bother you for a long time.” Waldstein goes on to note that Beltran and Bay have only played nine games together, because Beltran missed the first half of last season following knee surgery and Bay went down at Dodger Stadium during the opening road trip after the Mets reassembled following the All-Star break.
Lucas Duda should get the bulk of the starts in left field in Bay's absence, although Terry Collins reportedly prefers using Willie Harris on Opening Day.
• Luis Castillo was released by the Phillies. Fellow ex-Met Wilson Valdez will start at second base, with Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez also getting time at the position. Write David Murphy and Marcus Hayes in the Philadelphia Daily News regarding Castillo:
During his six games with the Phillies, he displayed the plate discipline and ability to reach base that have been his calling card throughout his career. But when the Phillies signed him to a minor league deal last weekend, there were serious questions about his defensive ability. Manager Charlie Manuel has routinely stressed defense this spring, something the team believes it has in utility man Wilson Valdez. When asked what Castillo could have done to make the team, [GM Ruben] Amaro responded, "I'm not going to get into that."
• Jason Isringhausen has elected to remain in Port St. Lucie in extended spring training for up to two weeks. If another team has a major league opportunity in the interim, the Mets must promote Izzy or let him walk. Collins predicts a spot will open up in the Mets bullpen somehow. The decision allowed the Mets to hold onto two of three relievers battling for the final spot, at least temporarily. Blaine Boyer, who had a Thursday out in his minor league contract, claimed the final spot. Manny Acosta was designated for assignment. He will have to go through waivers if he is not traded beforehand. Read more in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.
• Johan Santana never had been left behind in camp, either with the Twins or Mets. Santana will work out at the Mets' Florida complex with an eye toward a late June or early July return. He is currently throwing on flat ground at 75 feet four times a week. More on Santana in Newsday.
• Newsday's Neil Best looks at the secondary market for Mets tickets. Writes Best:
Asking prices on the secondary market are up nearly 10 percent compared to this time last season. So says data compiled by TiqIQ, a ticket search engine, which shows the average for 2011 is $91.97, up from $84.13 at this time last year. Why? One factor presumably is a diminished supply because of a shrinking season ticket base. On average, 3,383 tickets per Mets game are on the market compared to 10,203 for the Yankees. ... The average price for the Mets home opener April 8 was $155.66 as of early this week, down 21 percent from last year. ... The most costly Mets game was the average of $235.09 for the July 3 game against the Yankees; the least expensive was the $38 for April 20 against the Astros.
• Sandy Alderson tells the Daily News' Andy Martino the Bernard Madoff mess had no impact on last offseason. "The only external reality that had had an impact this offseason is the pre-existing payroll," Alderson tells Martino. "The fact that we had about $135 million this year when I came on board, realistically that didn't leave us much to spend."
• Martino also has a position-by-position review of the Mets.
BIRTHDAYS: Tom Hausman, who went 12-17 with a 3.66 ERA in 125 appearances (24 starts) for the Mets between 1978 and '82, was born on this day in 1953. ... Right-hander Bill Denehy, a Middletown, Conn., native who went 1-7 for the '67 Mets, was born in 1946.
Editor's Note: Mets morning briefing will move slightly later during the regular season, since the author needs to be noctural from April-September.