New York Mets: David Sheehan

Mets morning briefing 3.21.12

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
6:42
AM ET
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.

Mets morning briefing 2.27.12

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
7:08
AM ET
Terry Collins will address his players at 9 a.m. today. Then it's time to head outdoors for the first official full-squad workout.

Monday's news reports:

David Wright reacted to the contract extension childhood friend/fellow National League East third baseman Ryan Zimmerman received with the Washington Nationals. The Nats added six years and $100 million to Zimmerman's existing contract. The Mets hold a team option for 2013 with Wright, so any contract extension talks -- if they materialize -- likely will wait until next offseason. Wright said in-season talks are not ideal. Similarly, trading Wright during this season appears a less-likely scenario than him completing at least this year with the Mets. A team official told the Daily News that the Mets would need four Zack Wheelers -- the prospect the Mets received in the Carlos Beltran trade from the San Francisco Giants -- in return to deal Wright at this year's summer deadline.

Still, columnist Joel Sherman in the Post foresees Wright ultimately a goner. Writes Sherman:

He is trying to re-establish his value, hoping to capitalize on those nearer Citi Field fences to return to the land of 30 homers, 100 RBIs and a .300 average. The irony is that will, if anything, make him more likely to be traded either this July or, more probably, after the Mets pick up his $16 million option for 2013. This is why the Zimmerman contract provides a larger context of where the Mets are within the NL East. The Nationals and Marlins are in go-for-it mode, building their star bases and payrolls. The Braves have as large a collection of impressive, young major-league ready arms as any organization. The Phillies are the star-heavy, five-time defending division champs.

Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Johan Santana simulated throwing two innings during a bullpen session Sunday. The southpaw is scheduled to throw batting practice to Mets hitters Friday, setting up a March 6 Grapefruit League matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals. Collins said the real test of Santana's surgically repaired left shoulder will begin then. Read more in the Record, Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• The Ruben Tejada arrival saga storyline has run its course, after Collins made reference to Derek Jeter as a paragon of virtue. Collins met with Tejada on Sunday morning and everyone is now ready to proceed. Read more in the Journal, Times, Star-Ledger, Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Richard Sandomir in the Times reviews the arguments both sides will use assuming the $386 million civil trial proceeds against Fred Wilpon and family on March 19 as scheduled. Judge Jed S. Rakoff must rule by March 5 whether to allow the trial to go ahead. Rakoff alternatively could toss the case, as the Wilpons' attorneys have requested. He also could award the trustee suing the Wilpons $83 million -- allegedly the Wilpons' profits in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme in the two years before Madoff was arrested. In that scenario, Rakoff then either must decide if that's all the plaintiff gets, or whether Rakoff will still let the trustee try to recover another $303 million at trial by attempting to prove the Wilpons were "willfully blind" to Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

At the latest hearing, four days ago, Rakoff decided to toss expert witnesses from both sides. The judge also heard arguments from the lawyers about how he should rule with respect to a trial proceeding. Essentially, for Rakoff to toss the case, he would have to find that even if everything trustee Irving Picard alleges is true, reasonable jurors could not find for him in court. Writes Sandomir:

Lawyers for Katz and Wilpon argued that the men were ordinary customers of Madoff’s -- not sophisticated investors -- entitled to the protections of the law. [Saul] Katz and Wilpon say they saw nothing suspicious about Madoff over more than 20 years of investing with him. "The trustee has confused the record, has piled on irrelevant paper, has mischaracterized evidence," said Karen Wagner, the lead lawyer for the Mets’ owners. She said the trustee "distorts the evidence in this case in order to attempt to come under a standard he cannot meet." David Sheehan, the counsel to the trustee, argued that there was ample evidence to show that Katz and Wilpon had been willfully blind to numerous indications that Madoff might have been engaged in fraud. Sheehan said that Wagner's clients were not "run-of-the-mill guys investing in a retail brokerage operation." He cited another brush with a Ponzi scheme in which Sterling Stamos, the investment firm co-owned by Wilpon and Katz’s company, repaid $13 million when a hedge fund called Bayou collapsed. Sheehan cited a 2005 Sterling meeting agenda with this entry: "Have learned a lot from the Bayou experience."

• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro strolled out to Field 7, which has been reconfigured to the new dimensions of Citi Field. The Mets left the old walls up too, so Mets hitters could get a feel for just how big the difference is between the former stadium dimensions and the new ones. Collins even had staff leave the balls that were hit during batting practice between the walls there -- the ones that will be homers now, but would not the past three years -- so that hitters can see the tangible difference in homer-friendliness with the revised dimensions. Writes Vaccaro:

How vast is it? Put it this way: You could drive a couple of Escalades side-by-side and still have room for a few Harleys. It is wider than a hotel concourse. Stepping it off heel-to-toe, it took 10 paces of my size 13 Puma Clydes to make it from front to back. "Comparatively," catcher Josh Thole said, "it feels like you can reach out and touch the fence." That was the idea, Terry Collins insists. They kept the old fences up for a reason, and he saw the results the first day the early-reporting regulars took live batting practice. "After a while," Collins said, “I took a walk out there, and there’s like a dozen baseballs lying in that area between the fences, home runs now that would’ve been something else before." Collins told his coaches, "Make sure you walk the guys back this way, so they can see those baseballs lying on the grass. Let them see what they’re going to be in for once we get them back home."

For a diagram of the Citi Field alterations, check this Oct. 31 blog entry.

TRIVIA: Manny Acosta and Tejada were born in Panama. Name the last Panamian-born player to appear in the majors with the Mets before them.

(Sunday's answer: Two players in Mets major league game have fathers who are college baseball coaches. Third base prospect Zach Lutz's father Yogi is the head coach at Alvernia College in Pennsylvania. Matt Harvey's father Edward is a coach on the staff at the UConn Avery Point. Both teams play in Florida in the coming weeks, near the Mets' complex.)

Mets morning briefing 3.21.11

March, 21, 2011
3/21/11
7:00
AM ET
Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and -- at some point during the powwow Oliver Perez -- meet on Monday morning to discuss what's next for the on-the-ropes southpaw, while Luis Castillo lands in Philadelphia on a minor league deal and the Atlanta Braves come to Port St. Lucie to face Mike Pelfrey.

On to Monday's news reports:

• The Mets filed their official court response to trustee Irving Picard's $1 billion-plus lawsuit. Read the ESPNNewYork.com summary of the defense here. You can download the actual document filed here.

• Newsday notes that part of the Mets owners' legal argument is that they were customers rather than sophisticated investors and therefore don't have to return the money. It quotes their lawyers' press release as saying: "A customer has no way of knowing what his broker is actually doing." Picard co-counsel David Sheehan told the newspaper the Wilpons are incorrect in their interpretation of the law.

• The Daily News chronicles the Wilpons' vindication efforts by noting Picard's complaint ignores a deposition given by the manager of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz's own hedge fund that he trusted Bernard Madoff and regarded him as a marvel.

Of course, I don't think it was in Picard's best interest to note in the lawsuit that a Wilpon associate was supporting Mets owners' assertions in his deposition. That's probably the defense's job. Picard stuck to pointing out the disputed e-mail Peter Stamos allegedly sent after Madoff was caught in which he appears to suggest Wilpon and Katz ignored warnings. Stamos in his deposition explains that away as saying he wanted the Wilpon family to put no more than 10 percent of their assets in any one place to avoid risk, and now they were screwed because they did not hede his advice and instead put all of their eggs in one basket.

• Read more coverage in the Times. The newspaper notes the Wilpons suggest they could not have been warned by Ivy Asset Management, as is alleged by Picard, that something might be improper with Madoff because that company itself is "being sued by its investors and the New York Attorney General for concealing its Madoff ‘concerns.’"

It also quotes Katz from his deposition asserting the lawsuit's portrayal of him as a sophisticated investor -- even if he had direct access to Madoff -- is false. “I don’t do well in the markets, the stock market," Katz says in a deposition. "I’m not good at it. It’s not my business.”

• Meanwhile, Newsday's Steven Marcus reports the Mets' books are now open to the potential minority investors who have cleared Major League Baseball's screening process. The hope is to have a minority partner in place by June, although the unresolved Picard lawsuit could complicate that. Writes Marcus:

Those on the list were subject to a financial and personal background investigation by MLB with candidates paying a nonrefundable fee of $25,000 for the right to examine the team's finances. After reviewing the records, investors still interested will meet with principal owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to formulate specific offers.

• After the bus left for Sunday's game in Jupiter, the Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough remained behind to observe Carlos Beltran's progress with his ailing knees. Beltran ran four times about 100 feet in the outfield. Beltran had received a cortisone shot in his left knee Friday, while his right knee is more severely arthritic but not as big an issue in the past week. “I don’t feel anything,” Beltran tells McCullough after the workout. “So I’m moving pretty good. I feel confident.” Still, McCullough writes:

Beltran knows neither when he can return to spring training games nor how many he needs to properly prepare for the season. He frets about neither. “The main thing right here is my [left] knee,” he said. “If my knee feels good, and if I don’t feel pain, I’m going to work hard to get to what I need to be in the games.” Progress comes in increments. He took batting practice from the left side on Friday. He ran Sunday. Monday he plans to participate in outfield fielding practice. He also hopes to track pitches on the minor-league side of the complex to hone his batting eye.

• Newsday's David Lennon quotes Beltran saying: "I feel strong. I've feel like I've been doing the work that I need, so once I start playing every day, it's going to turn out good for me."

Read more about Beltran in the Record.

The tricky thing for the Mets will be whether to actually put Beltran in a Grapefruit League game assuming he's ready to play before the team breaks camp in nine days, or whether they limit him to minor league games. You can backdate a 15-day DL stint 10 days into spring training -- meaning Beltran technically might only have to miss the season-opening series in Florida. (That's because the regular season opens on a Thursday with the Mets not playing, and the Mets have an off-day after the first series.) But, you can only backdate into spring training until the last date a player appeared in a Grapefruit League game.

• The Times spoke with Perez on Sunday as he awaited his fate. "I know I’m not the same guy I was before I signed,” Perez tells the paper, referring to his three-year, $36 million deal that has only the 2011 season remaining. “That’s why I came here. I wanted to get better.” Authors Mark Viera and David Waldstein write:

Perez said it was difficult to hear negative feedback. He said he had visited a sports psychologist -- provided by his agent, Scott Boras -- to try to help his mind-set and performance. “I want to get better; I want to do my best,” Perez said. “It’s not easy that people boo you. You want to get better. Every time I go out, I try to get better. It’s what it is in life. Everybody wants to be great every time, but that’s impossible.” He added: “I know the New York people want to win a championship. I’ve got the same pain for them.”

• With it potentially Perez's final day in a Mets uniform, the Post's Mike Puma notes Collins' response to whether he would like to carry two lefties in the bullpen -- essentially a second with Tim Byrdak, who is widely expected to make the team. Collins' reply to reporters after Sunday's game: "I want to keep guys who get people out. If you have left-handers who don't get outs, they can't help you. If you have right-handers who have good stuff, and they get outs, I don't care who is [batting] -- they get people out."

The Mets' bullpen is expected to include Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, Byrdak, D.J. Carrasco and Taylor Buchholz. Pitching coach Dan Warthen strongly indicated this weekend that Jason Isringhausen also is on firm footing if he stays healthy the final week and a half. Scouts believe Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato would merit the final slot at that point over out-of-options pitchers Manny Acosta and Pat Misch as well as Blaine Boyer and Mike O'Connor, who are on minor league deals.

• Isringhausen felt a pop in his elbow last week. He tells the Daily News' Andy Martino: "We think it's just scar tissue. I saw the doctor, and he said that everything is fine."

Steve Henson of Yahoo chronicles ex-Met David Newhan's comeback attempt with the Padres from a surfing accident that "snapped the C2 vertebrae in his neck" and left him in a wheelchair.

• Here's the Philly point of view on Castillo landing there on a minor league deal. Writes David Murphy in the Philadelphia Daily News:

Castillo has just 28 home runs in 15 major league seasons and carries a paltry .351 slugging percentage for his career. In 2009, he tallied just 16 extra-base hits in 580 plate appearances, the lowest total for a player with as many PAs since 1978. Still, he represents a low-risk addition to a pool of infielders that includes Wilson Valdez, Josh Barfield, Michael Martinez and Pete Orr. "His game in the last couple years, it's dwindled some," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Friday. "I don't know how much is there, but he used to be a hell of a player. I know at one time he was real good. If possible, yeah, he might be someone we'd take a look at."

Jeff Pearlman in the Wall Street Journal catches up with Doug Sisk, who Mets fans once loved to hate too. Sisk in the piece talks about watching a Seattle Mariners game on TV as a fan later in life and starting to boo at the TV. He then realized he had gone full circle from object of ire to fan dispensing it. Writes Pearlman:

During the team's 1986 world championship season, Mets officials thought it would be fun to use Shea Stadium's JumboTron scoreboard to play a fictionalized computer game between the '69 Mets and the current team. As the battle went back and forth, a sellout crowd cheered. When Keith Hernandez homered, fans stood. When Nolan Ryan came on in relief, they clapped. When the game ended with a triumph for the '86 club, the stadium went wild. Then, WP: Doug Sisk flashed across the screen. Boooooooooooooooooo!

BIRTHDAYS: Tim Leary was born on this date in 1958. ... Shawon Dunston was born in 1963 in Brooklyn. Primarily a Cub, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School.

The should-have-known standard

March, 8, 2011
3/08/11
5:46
PM ET
Irving Picard, the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, updated reporters on his progress in a conference call Tuesday afternoon. Picard said he had roughly recovered $10 billion, after some minor legal hurdles, toward the $20 billion stolen.

Picard would not talk about individual cases, but one question was particularly revelant to Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz. On the topic of whether certain people should have known about Madoff not being legitimate, which is the basis of Picard seeking $1 billion from the Mets ownership family as opposed to the $300 million in alleged false profits, fellow attorney David Sheehan said:

"As we've alleged in a number of the complaints, what you would have seen, for example, with regard to a particular issue -- I'm using this only by way of example, say Exxon -- what you would see is that on a given day, the amount that was purportedly traded by Mr. Madoff in connection with one of his transactions .. with his 'split-strike conversion' strategy, that the market volume of the day was exceeded by the alleged trades engaged in by Mr. Madoff. The same thing is true with regard to the options he was supposed to be trading at that time. So, therefore, it was readily available information to individuals if they were just doing, quite frankly from our perspective, their job. Looking at the activities that were transpiring in the account, measuring them against the real world, they would have seen those volumes of transactions could not have taken place. It would have led to a series of other questions. I use that only by way of example of many things that were in the account that people of that kind of financial background would have been able to see.

"There are many other things, as you know, that we have alleged. That, in particular, is one that jumps out at you -- that the volume being dealt with in connection with these transactions was such that you could have checked readily information and found out the volumes were not real."

Picard wants $1 billion from Wilpon/Katz

February, 5, 2011
2/05/11
8:46
PM ET
The lawsuit unsealed Friday does not specify the exact amount sought from Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz and Sterling companies beyond $300 million in allegedly fraudulent profits (as well as a smaller amount invested by Bernard Madoff in Sterling businesses, and any money withdrawn from Madoff accounts in the final 90 days before the collapse.)

However, the total amount sought because the family allegedly looked the other way turns out to be $1 billion, a plaintiff's lawyer told The New York Times.

“What the trustee is looking for here is a payment in cash,” attorney David Sheehan, who leads trustee Irving Picard's team, told the newspaper. “So whether they utilize the Mets, SNY, Sterling properties or any other resource is of no moment to us. What we’re looking for is a billion dollars, and unless we settle for less than that, which we’re not inclined to do, where they get the money is of no moment to us.”

Throwing out the astronomical sum likely in part is designed to compel the Wilpons to settle for a lesser figure. But that staggering potential liability if the case ends up at trial demonstrates just how dire things might become for the Wilpon family, and just how tenuous their hold on the Mets may become.

Picard seeks the hundreds of millions of extra dollars -- even the principal the Wilpons invested with Bernard Madoff -- because he alleges the Wilpons knew, or should have known because of repeated warnings and other indicators, that Madoff was doing funny business.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.287 7 37 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 15
RBIL. Duda 50
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .841
WB. Colon 8
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112