New York Mets: Irving Picard


Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty ImagesBernard Madoff


MIAMI -- The trustee who is recovering money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme announced Monday his fourth round of distributions of recovered funds.

And that helps the Mets' owners, the Wilpon family.

Eligible victims of the Ponzi scheme now have recovered 46.059 cents for every dollar of principal they lost in the Madoff affair.

As part of the Wilpons' settlement with the trustee, the sides stipulated that the Wilpons lost $178 million in certain Madoff funds, while making $162 million from other funds.

The Wilpons, like other victims, can deduct the 46.059 cents per dollar from their lost funds from the $162 million eventually owed to the trustee.

Here's the math:

$162 million owed, minus 46.059 percent of $178 million lost, yields the actual payback to the trustee.

So the Wilpon family, businesses and charities right now would owe the trustee $80,014,980 -- divided into two installments, and payable in 2016 and 2017.

That obligation should further decrease as the trustee recovers more funds for all victims.

Wilpons' Madoff settlement down to $80M

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
5:02
PM ET

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty ImagesBernard Madoff


VIERA, Fla. -- The trustee recovering money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme on Tuesday announced plans to seek court approval to make a fourth payment to victims.

And that helps the Wilpon family.

If approved by the court, victims of the Ponzi scheme will now have recovered 46.036 cents for every dollar they lost in the Madoff affair.

As part of the Wilpons' settlement with the trustee, the sides stipulated that the Wilpons lost $178 million in certain Madoff funds, while making $162 million from other funds.

The Wilpons, like other victims, can deduct the more than 46 cents per dollar from their losing funds from the $162 million eventually owed to the trustee.

Here's the math:

$162 million owed, minus 46.036% of $178 million lost, yields the actual payback to the trustee.

So the Wilpon family, businesses and charities right now would owe the trustee $80,055,920 -- divided into two installments, and payable in 2016 and 2017.

That obligation should further decrease as the trustee recovers more funds for all victims.

Wilpons get good news from Madoff trustee

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
11:50
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Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Bernard Madoff


PHOENIX -- The trustee recovering funds related to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme announced Thursday in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing that he intends to disburse another $1.5 billion to $2.4 billion to victims.

And while Fred Wilpon and family will not see any of that money, the announcement does favorably benefit them.

As part of the settlement in the one-time $1 billion lawsuit against the Mets owners, their family, business and charities, the Wilpons agreed to return $162 million in false profits made from certain accounts in the six years before Madoff was shut down.

But the settlement also allowed the Wilpons to apply for $178 million as victims for losses from other funds they owned.

Trustee Irving Picard announced Thursday that he now has collected enough money to return no less than 46 to 50 cents on every dollar lost by recognized victims, which includes the Wilpons.

So the $162 million owed by the Wilpons already can be reduced by somewhere between $81.9 million and $89 million -- which represents 46 to 50 percent of the $178 million claim as victims.

That means when the Wilpons are on the hook for equal settlement payments in four and five years, each payment now should be no larger than $40 million. And that sum should continue to decrease as Picard continues to pursue funds from net winners in the Ponzi scheme.

These Mets magic moments ...

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
2:00
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US Presswire/Tim FarrellJohan Santana's June 1 no-hitter certainly was cause for celebration.
Here's a ranking of 10 memorable moments from the first half of 2012, with write-ups largely as they appeared on those days.

Obviously, Johan Santana's historic no-hitter -- the first in franchise history -- ranks No. 1. So what's your next favorite?

10. FRACTURED HOPE, April 14: Broken pinkie? Idle for four days? No problem. David Wright pounced on the first pitch he saw in his return to the lineup, sending a first-inning offering from Vance Worley over the center-field wall for a 428-foot homer in his return as the Mets beat the Phillies, 5-0. Wright avoided the DL and played through the fracture while unexpectedly missing minimal time.

9. BELL RUNG, April 26: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Mets swept the Marlins. Ex-Met Heath Bell walked four of the first five batters he faced and forced in the tying run with a 13-pitch free pass to Justin Turner. Bell threw 46 pitches in the ninth.

8. OPENING ACT, April 5: Santana successfully returned after missing the 2011 season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. And the Mets again were winners on Opening Day, improving their MLB-best mark to 33-18 in season openers, thanks to an RBI single from Wright and clutch relief from Tim Byrdak only 23 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Mets beat the Braves, 1-0.

7. CHICKEN DELIGHT, June 22: Frank Francisco labeled the Yankees "chickens" before the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. He ended up getting a save in the opener, in a 6-4 win. Things got weird, though, when Byrdak had a clubhouse attendant purchase a chicken in Chinatown for $8. Byrdak had the bird running around the Mets clubhouse. The good-luck chicken, dubbed "Little Jerry Seinfeld," eventually found a home at an upstate sanctuary.

6. RAY OF HOPE, June 12-14: The Mets answered getting swept in the Subway Series in the Bronx in resounding fashion. The Amazin’s scored 29 runs in a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, who had led the American League with a 3.40 ERA entering the series. The Mets -- who scored 11, nine and nine runs -- last posted at least nine runs in three straight games in 2006. They last did it consecutively in the same series back in 1990, when they scored 43 runs in the final three games of a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs.


Howard Smith/US Presswire
Jordany Valdespin's first major league hit was a game-deciding homer against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon on May 7.


5. PAPEL-BUMMERS, May 7 & July 5: Omir Santos … again? Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had not allowed a hit in the last 18 at-bats against him entering the series, surrendered a one-out walk to Ike Davis, two-out double to Mike Nickeas, then a three-run homer to pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win on May 7 at Citizens Bank Park. Then, July 5, also against Papelbon, Wright blooped in the game-winning single with two outs. It was Wright’s seventh-career game-ending hit and first since Aug. 7, 2008 (a home run). The third baseman finished with three hits -- including a homer -- and four RBIs.

4. CATCH 23, June 1: He struggled to put on his shirt in front of his locker, the pain of a crash into the left-field wall still reverberating through his left shoulder. The crash, which followed a catch that proved to be the biggest defensive play in preserving Santana's no-hitter, knocked him from the game, forcing him to watch the final innings in the training room and bringing on a litany of tests. The crash resulted in the best sore shoulder Mike Baxter has ever suffered in his 27 years. "Absolutely," Baxter said. "I'll take it any day of the week."

3. GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, March 19: The owners of the Mets settled with trustee Irving Picard for $162 million, their alleged profit from certain Ponzi scheme funds in the six years before Bernard Madoff's arrest. In reality, Fred Wilpon and family will be on the hook for only a fraction of that amount -- and will not be required to make any payments until 2016 and 2017. That's because, as part of the settlement, the Wilpons will be able to apply to the trustee to be reimbursed for $178 million in losses from certain funds.

2. ZEROES, June 13: R.A. Dickey ran his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 32 2/3 innings before Wright's ninth-inning error, a pair of passed balls from Nickeas and an RBI groundout ended the run. Dickey nonetheless passed previous record-holder Jerry Koosman (31 2/3 innings in 1973) as the Mets beat the Rays, 9-1, at the Trop. Dickey retired 22 straight batters at one point in claiming his 10th win.

1. NO-HAN: After more than a half-century and 8,020 games, Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Aided by an umpire's missed call and an incredible catch by a left fielder who grew up in Queens as a Mets fan, Santana's start is also the first no-hitter of his career. Mets manager Terry Collins said before the game that he wanted to limit Santana to a maximum of 110-115 pitches. Santana finished with a career-high 134. Afterward, an emotional Collins expressed his wariness about going after history instead of preserving Santana's long-term health.

Judge approves Madoff-Wilpon deal

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
10:13
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Judge Jed S. Rakoff on Thursday evening has approved the settlement agreement between Mets owner Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and their family and trustee Irving Picard, who is charged with recovering money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

The formality cements previously agreed upon terms.

The family agreed to repay $162.7 million in profits from certain Madoff investments made over a six-year period. But the Wilpons will never pay anything close to that amount.

That's because the Wilpons can apply to the trustee like other victims to recover $177.6 million in losses from other Madoff investments -- and deduct whatever is recovered from the amount owed in the settlement. The Wilpons, like other victims, will not receive 100 percent of their loss claim, but they likely will recover more than half.

Read the full news story here.

Mets morning briefing 4.15.12

April, 15, 2012
4/15/12
8:28
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David Wright went 3-for-5 with a homer in his return to the lineup with a fractured right pinkie, Jon Niese tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the Mets blanked the Phillies, 5-0, Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets already have clinched the series win. They had been 1-7-1 in their past nine series at Philly. Mike Pelfrey opposes Cole Hamels this afternoon, with the Mets aiming for their first sweep in Philly since June 13-15, 2006.

Today is Jackie Robinson Day across MLB.

Sunday's news reports:

Terry Collins said that on Friday he believed Wright almost definitely would land on the disabled list this weekend. The Mets even flew in Josh Satin to be prepared for that seeming eventuality. Yet Wright returned to the lineup and blasted his 16th homer at Citizens Bank Park, the most by any visitor at the stadium since it opened in 2004. Read more in Newsday.

• Read game recaps in the Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post, Daily News and Record.

Steven Marcus in Newsday inquires about why the Mets have retired only one player's number -- 41, for Tom Seaver. Casey Stengel's 37 and Gil Hodges' 14 as well as the universally recognized Robinson's 42 also are retired. The Mets placed Gary Carter's No. 8 on the outfield wall for this season -- appearing as it does on the patch on the Mets' uniforms.

"I think the general point of view is we don't want to get to the point where it's somewhat gratuitous and you've got dozens and dozens of people whose numbers are retired,'' Mets executive VP Dave Howard told Marcus. "Historically, from a Mets perspective, this is a very high honor. Certainly from a player standpoint, it's only been Tom Seaver. He's in a class by himself.''

Added Keith Hernandez to Marcus: "Too many teams are retiring too many numbers. They lose their import. So I'm in the camp that it should be something that is special, it shouldn't be marginalized. Who wouldn't want to have their number retired? But it's not something that I think about.''

One obvious number to consider is Mike Piazza's No. 31. Newsday's David Lennon tweeted earlier this year that the Mets are expected to retire Piazza's number after he is inducted into Cooperstown.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News discusses the ramifications of Wright's speedy return and Saturday's series-clinching win. Writes Harper:

Injuries are a delicate subject around the Mets, after all the problems they’ve had in recent years. In some cases they made matters worse by allowing the likes of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and even Wright last season, with his broken back, to play hurt, so now they tend to proceed with extreme caution. That’s why it was a bit surprising, even for Collins, to hear him say on Wednesday that he had a “gut feeling” Wright would play with his broken finger here on Friday.

Even if it wasn’t the manager’s intent, that put a certain pressure on his star player. If Wright couldn’t play, he would look less than tough, at least in the eyes of many fans who took Collins’ gut feeling to heart. Perhaps that’s why Wright sounded a bit defensive when he couldn’t play on Friday, repeatedly saying he couldn’t “functionally” grip or swing a bat because of the swelling in his finger. But then it felt good enough on Saturday to try it, and in a way he made his manager look like a prophet with his big day that raised his batting average to .588.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post writes that Wright's leadership is clear:

David Wright sent a message to his teammates yesterday: Play hard, play through pain, or go home.

Mike Kerwick in the Record says Citi Field spectators should not boo Jason Bay. Writes Kerwick:

Here's my advice to Mets fans: Shackle your venom. And give the guy some space. Was it just a coincidence that Bay hit no homers in six games at Citi Field, then blasted one during his first at-bat in a visiting park? Possibly. On Friday night, he said the first week of games was not enough to cause his shoulders to slump. But he has also admitted he hears the boos. Bay is a decent person. And most decent people sag when exposed to this degree of enmity. I can't help but think the booing, on some subconscious level, penetrates his psyche.

Bobby Parnell recorded the ensuing four outs after Niese departed, including covering the eighth inning for a second straight day. Between the Grapefruit League and regular season, Parnell has not allowed a run in 17 1/3 innings. Read more in the Record.

• Niese has carried a scoreless effort into the seventh inning in both of his outings. Read more in Newsday and the Post.

• In the court filings made late Friday regarding the settlement of the lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family over Bernard Madoff accounts, one reason trustee Irving Picard cited for settling was the Mets owners' tight finances made getting more money via further litigation dicey. Writes Anthony M. Destefano in Newsday:

In federal court filings late Friday night, trustee Irving Picard said the "restrictive" cash flow, as well as the owners' obligations to banks that lent them money, contributed to doubts that further litigation against Fred Wilpon , Saul Katz and their partners in Sterling Equities would produce a bigger payout. "We have become satisfied that defendants' cash flow and lender covenants would not have enabled me to recover more for the [Madoff] customer fund in the foreseeable future by litigating to the point of judgment," Picard said in an affidavit. The settlement "is a practical and fair compromise" that avoided "a protracted and expensive trial and lengthy appeals," Picard explained in a statement.

Richard Sandomir in the Times also notes the trustee's language in expressing concern about collecting debt from the Wilpons.

Domingo Tapia tossed seven scoreless innings as Savannah won via shutout for the second straight day. Read the full minor league recap here.

• On the club's 50th anniversary, there is an excerpt in the Daily News about the creation of the Mets from the book, "The Mets: A 50th Anniversary Celebration," written by Andy Martino and Anthony McCarron.

TRIVIA: Johan Santana and Niese started the Mets' two shutouts at Citizens Bank Park. Which Mets pitcher started the last shutout at Veterans Stadium, the home of the Phillies through 2003?

Saturday's answer: Jason Bay's homer Friday against Cliff Lee was the outfielder's 19th long ball as a Met.

Trustee files settlement papers with court

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
11:43
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The trustee trying to recover funds on behalf of victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme filed his final paperwork Friday in U.S. District court related to the settlement of the lawsuit.

Essentially, Fred Wilpon and family agreed to repay $162 million in profits made in the six years before Madoff's arrest from certain funds. However, that amount will be reduced by money the Wilpons lost from other funds. The Wilpons will put in a claim for $178 million in losses, and should get a sizable percentage back from Picard like any other victim.

The settlement should be approved May 15.

Here's the press release from Irving Picard's camp:

Summary/highlights of the Settlement:


  • The Settlement Agreement represents a good faith, complete and final settlement between the two parties. It is a practical and fair compromise of complex litigation issues and avoids a protracted and expensive trial and lengthy appeals. The settlement is in the best interests of the BLMIS Customer Fund and the BLMIS customers with allowed claims – who were defrauded by the Madoff Ponzi scheme – who will ultimately receive distributions of recovered monies from the Customer Fund.
  • The Agreement enables the BLMIS Customer Fund to recoup six years (2002 through 2008) of fictitious profits of $162,000,000 and enables the SIPA Trustee to increase the fund of customer property (the Customer Fund) by $162 million.
  • The settlement payment schedule – details of which are fully outlined in the Agreement – is structured to make the settlement fully collectable, and creates a way to work around the restrictive issues faced by the Defendants that include constricted cash flow and lender covenant issues. The Trustee believes that without a solution such as this settlement presents, he would not have been able to recover more for the BLMIS Customer Fund by litigating to the point of judgment.
  • The Trustee’s financial due diligence confirmed the basis for the settlement and the representations made by the Katz et al. Defendants.
  • The Defendants’ allowed claims of approximately $178 million (BLMIS accounts in which the Defendants had deposited more money than they had withdrawn – their “net loser” accounts) will be unconditionally assigned to the Trustee. Any payments against the allowed claims that the Defendants are assigning to the Trustee will reduce the amount owed by the Defendants and will be added to the Customer Fund. If the settlement has not been fully satisfied in three years, Katz et al. Defendants must each pay their respective remainder of the settlement amount. If any of the Defendants are unable to do so, Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon will be personally responsible for any shortfall up to $29 million.
  • The Katz et al. Defendants agree to withdraw their petition for a writ of certiorari filed with the United States Supreme Court from the Second Circuit Net Equity Order and also agree not to pursue or join any other litigation involving the Trustee or SIPC arising out of or relating to the BLMIS liquidation. The termination of such litigation will help speed additional distributions to BLMIS customers with allowed claims.

A hearing for approval of the settlement before the District Court for the Southern District of New York has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 4:00 p.m.

Mets morning briefing 3.22.12

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
6:31
AM ET
R.A. Dickey is scheduled to start for the Mets this afternoon against the Astros, followed by Fernando Cabrera, Jon Rauch, Chris Schwinden and Frank Francisco. Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers as well as Rhiner Cruz, the hard-throwing Rule 5 pick from the Mets, are due to pitch for Houston. Cruz, 25, has a 19.29 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances in Astros camp and may be returned to the Mets before Opening Day, although he is coming off a scoreless inning against the Miami Marlins.

Thursdays, by the day, typically are cut days from major league camp. And Ike Davis celebrates his 25th birthday.

Thursday's news reports:

Johan Santana took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals and continued to suggest he will be ready to take the ball Opening Day at Citi Field, on April 5 against the Atlanta Braves. A scout said Santana was sitting at 88 mph with his fastball. Still, that proved enough. David Freese twice struck out on pitches -- one a slider, the other a changeup -- that prompted him to lose his bat into foul territory down the third-base line. "He's not throwing 95, but he's a guy who knows how to pitch," Freese told Anthony Rieber in Newsday. "When he makes pitches, he's going to be effective and he's going to win games for sure." Watch video of Santana discussing his 69-pitch outing here. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post and Times.

• Forbes valued the Mets at $719 million, a 4 percent decline from the previous year. Mets officials annually dispute the accuracy of the rankings.

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler suffered a sprained left ankle climbing stairs Sunday, a team official said. Wheeler minimized the injury, but he will miss a minor league start. Read more in Newsday.

• Convicted swindler Bernard Madoff expressed disappointment to author Diane Henriques that one-time close friend Fred Wilpon settled the lawsuit brought against the Mets owner by trustee Irving Picard.

Jordany Valdespin had a ninth-inning homer to tie the game, but left-hander Garrett Olson allowed a runner inherited on third from Miguel Batista to score the following half-inning and the Mets lost to the Cardinals, 2-1.

Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson in the Times report that the 12 minority shares totaling $240 million that were infused into the Mets came from a handful of sources. The newspaper reported that in addition to a $25 million repayment to Major League Baseball and $40 million repayment to satisfy a bridge loan from Bank of America, $75 million of the infusion was used to pay down other bank debt that had totaled about $400 million. Write Sandomir and Belson:

Ultimately, the Mets’ owners bought three of those shares -- the first two, Wilpon said recently, and a third more recently -- and Time Warner Cable and Comcast, who are partners in SNY, bought two shares each to help the team steady its finances. In exchange, they extended certain elements of their network deals. Another share was bought by Robert W. Pittman and Kenneth B. Lerer, two media moguls. A ninth share was purchased by the hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, who is in the midst of trying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. If he succeeds, he will have to sell his stake in the Mets. The identities of the remaining three new shareholders are not publicly known.

• Will this week's financial resolutions prompt the Mets to spend freely next offseason and beyond? Sandy Alderson was not making any such prediction when he spoke Tuesday. The GM merely said it would more so allow for the possibility to pursue a desired free agent. David Wright told Mark Cannizzaro in the Post: “What we have is what we’ve got, and that’s what we need not be worried about, not what could happen. Time will tell as far as that goes. There’s no sense in worrying about who’s not here and what could have been or what might happen. These are the guys we have and we need to make this work.’’

Mike Puma in the Post reports Mike Pelfrey has dealt with a high-ankle sprain for much of camp. Pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested to Puma that the ankle was a significant reason why Pelfrey pitched out of the stretch exclusively in his first Grapefruit League start -- and why his velocity was hovering around 87 mph until the right-hander aired it out and gave up eight runs in his most recent start, against the Houston Astros. “The ankle sprain is why he was out of the stretch all this time and the velocity was what it was,” Warthen said. “This was the best he felt, over against Houston.” Said Pelfrey: "It's not bad."

TRIVIA: Which player currently in Mets major league camp represented Italy in the most-recent World Baseball Classic?

Wednesday's answer: Adam Loewen is the earliest-selected draft pick in Mets camp. He was taken fourth overall, as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles, in 2002 out of Fraser Valley Christian High School in British Columbia.

Madoff 'desperately disappointed' no trial

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
10:29
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Diane Henriques, author of the Bernard Madoff book "The Wizard of Lies," told CBS News that Madoff was "desperately disappointed" that one-time good friend Fred Wilpon did not take the lawsuit against him to trial.

The Wilpons settled for $162 million, but will never have to pay a figure close to that sum.

"He wrote me last weekend that he was so looking forward to that trial," Henriques told the network. "He was hoping that the Mets' defense would make the case he was making to me that they had no reason to doubt Madoff."

Henriques said an email from Madoff to her called trustee Irving Picard, the man who sued Wilpon on behalf of net losers in the Ponzi scheme, derogatory terms.

"He calls Picard a fool, an amateur, says he doesn't understand the market, says he never understood the market, that he's just lost on Wall Street," Henriques told CBS.

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 3.20.12

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
12:42
AM ET
After an eventful off-day, much of the narrative about the Mets' looming financial ruin is due to take a backseat for the near future.

First, at the U.S. District Courthouse in lower Manhattan on Monday morning, the parties in the Bernard Madoff-related lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family announced they had settled the case for $162 million. In reality, the Wilpons ultimately will be responsible for repaying far less than that sum, since trustee Irving Picard will allow the family to claim losses of $178 million from other Madoff investments. The Wilpons won't be reimbursed that entire $178 million sum, but the fraction to which they are entitled to recoup after Picard collects money from net winners in the Ponzi scheme will be deducted from the $162 million they owe in the settlement. Also relevant: The Wilpons will not have to pay Picard whatever they ultimately owe until 2016 and 2017.

Secondly, word came that the Wilpons successfully had received a $240 million equity infusion from minority investors, allowing them to pay off a $25 million emergency loan from Major League Baseball and a $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America. The investment -- albeit with at least half coming from SportsNet New York, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz -- should allow the Wilpons to withstand any 2012 operating losses and meet immediate debt obligations without jeopardizing their ownership of the team in the near term.

Still, this does not mean the days of payroll austerity have ended for the Mets.

More may come Tuesday when the Wilpons are expected to be at Mets camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Tuesday's news reports:

• Although the consensus is the Wilpons fared very well with the settlement, both sides had compelling reasons to reach a compromise, which was brokered by former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Even if the Wilpons felt they did not act in bad faith in their investments with Madoff, a jury could have found otherwise and awarded Picard an additional $303 million aside from the up to $83.3 million to which Judge Jed S. Rakoff already had decided the trustee would be entitled. On the other side, by settling for $162 million -- the Wilpons' profits from certain funds in the six years before Madoff's arrest -- Picard restored that six-year clawback period as the appropriate standard. Rakoff had ruled that Picard could only go back two years, which would have capped the amount Picard could have recovered at $83.3 million -- unless the trustee could have demonstrated to a jury that the Wilpons acted "willfully blind" to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The Wilpons, as part of the settlement, are free and clear of any bad-faith accusations.

Wrote Anthony M. Destefano and Steven Marcus in Newsday regarding Cuomo's role as mediator:

About 10 days ago, he called Wilpon and Katz again into his office at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Manhattan for a frank talk. "They came. I spoke to them, I simply made the pitch. 'This is your last chance,' " recalled Cuomo. Then, in the past week lawyers for Picard, Wilpon and [Saul] Katz started to hunker down for some serious deal making. Each knew a trial had risks. "Number one, they may lose. Number two, they may win and then face an appeal. Number three, in either case it's going to cost a fortune," Cuomo said. Lawyers for Picard and the Mets owners swapped proposals and counterproposals through Cuomo, his partner Brian E. O'Connor and firm associate Emma J. James. At times, opposing lawyers talked directly by phone. What solidified the deal for Wilpon and Katz was Picard's willingness to drop his claim they were willfully blind to Madoff's fraud, an allegation that stung them deeply -- and could have cost them $303 million in damages if it stuck.

Read more settlement coverage in the Journal, Times, Daily News, Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• The $240 million equity infusion -- which comes in $20 million blocks each worth 4 percent of the team -- averts any short-term danger of the Wilpons being unable to meet their debt obligations. The only known investor without existing ties to the Mets is Steve Cohen, who is a finalist to purchase the majority share of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which would force him to divest his new share of the Mets.

In addition to paying back the $25 million to MLB and $40 million to Bank of America with the newly infused funds, Josh Kosman in the Post reports, $100 million of the money immediately went to pay down roughly $430 million in team debt. Kosman wrote:

The Mets have not refinanced their remaining loans, but have bought the team goodwill. Last year, team lender JPMorgan wrote a letter warning that the team had breached its debt covenants. The owners first must prove they can come close to hitting their budget after missing it badly the last two years, one source said. In 2011, the Mets lost roughly $70 million. After big payroll cuts in the off-season, the team could break even this year.

Marc Ganis, the president of a prominent sports consulting firm, told Newsday: "This is a good day for the Wilpons, but their financial troubles with the Mets are still very significant. It's really a situation that needs a lot of work before Mets fans can start feeling like a corner has turned."

Read more on the minority ownership sale in the Journal and Daily News.

• Columnist Bob Klapsich believes Mets fans are losers in the settlement. Writes Klapisch:

So it’s fair for Mets fans to ask the Wilpons what’s in store, other than years and years of debt pay-down. The family owes $430 million in principal of a loan against the team, due in 2014. They owe $450 million in principal of a loan against SNY, back in 2015. They owe an estimated $600 million, due in $25 million increments every six months, on the ballpark. These are the fiscal realities that figure to keep the Mets locked in a nasty catch-22. They haven’t had enough extra cash to upgrade the roster, but without enough on-field talent to compete with, say, the Phillies and Marlins, let alone the Braves and Nationals, how are the Wilpons going to generate ticket-sales that would fund a renaissance?

ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor has similar concerns about the Wilpons as owners. Writes O'Connor:

The Mets are a big-market joke with small-market bottom lines, and Wilpon's dreadful decisions in business and baseball are to blame. His fan base wants him out, and even the Mets' loyal, good-natured customers were hoping for some outcome before a judge and jury that left them with a new rich guy in charge. So when Mario Cuomo, the Kissinger of this case, told reporters outside federal court in Manhattan that this resolution would allow Mets owners to "return to normalcy," no season-ticket holder was seen popping open a bottle of chilled champagne. For Mets fans, normalcy is a team in the world's biggest, noisiest marketplace that slashes payroll by more than $50 million.

Anthony McCarron in the Daily News got brief reaction to the settlement. "As players, we’ve never been preoccupied with Madoff, but we understand it’s a huge burden lifted off the shoulders of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz,” R. A. Dickey told McCarron. Said Terry Collins: "I’m glad this episode is in the past now."

• The Mets return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the Washington Nationals after a team day off. They are winless in their past nine Grapefruit League games and have the worst exhibition record in baseball at 3-11-1. On a positive note, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada are expected to start against the Nats in the middle infield. The two have logged only six innings together in Grapefruit League play because Tejada has nursed a groin injury for the past week. Read more in Newsday.

Andrew Keh in the Times wonders what the settlement means for the future of David Wright. Writes Keh:

The theory was that the Mets, if they found themselves buried in the standings this summer, would be tempted to trade Wright to a contender before the July 31 trading deadline and receive prospects in exchange. But that was before Monday’s settlement did away with the financial threat the trustee posed. Whether Wilpon might now feel more tempted to try to keep Wright for the long term remains to be seen. But he might, if for no other reason than to send a signal to the team’s discontented fan base that he is willing to make at least one investment in the team’s future at some point this season. Jose Reyes was let go this winter without a fight; letting fans know that Wright might be staying put might soothe some wounds.

TRIVIA: Who led the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons in steals last season?

(Monday's answer: The trial was due to begin Monday in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, which was named for the late U.S. Senator from New York.)

Rapid Reaction: Wilpons settle for $162M

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
9:44
AM ET


WHAT HAPPENED: The owners of the New York Mets have settled with trustee Irving Picard for $162 million, their alleged profit from certain Ponzi scheme funds in the six years before Bernard Madoff's arrest.

In reality, Fred Wilpon and family will be on the hook for only a fraction of that amount -- and will not be required to make any payments until 2016 and 2017.

That's because, as part of the settlement, the Wilpons will be able to apply to the trustee to be reimbursed for $178 million in losses from certain funds. Obviously, like any victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, they won't recover every dollar. But they will get a certain percentage based on how much the trustee collects overall from net winners -- likely 50 percent or more.

As a result, the Wilpons' actual payment to Picard -- once the Wilpons' loser funds are reimbursed like other victims -- should be a fraction of the actual $162 million settlement.

Say if Picard pays to victims 50 cents on the dollars they lost. That means the Wilpons could be credited $89 million (half of $178 million) toward their $162 million owed as a result of the settlement. That's a net of only $73 million remaining to pay Picard to satisfy the settlement.

Any disbursements owed by Picard to Wilpon loser funds over the next three years will be deducted from the $162 million owed by the Wilpons to Picard in the settlement. The Wilpons then will owe the remaining amount in equal installments in four and five years.

The lawsuit sought to recover $386 million. Judge Jed S. Rakoff previously had decided that Picard likely was entitled to at least $83.3 million in profits from the two years before Madoff's arrest.

The original suit was for $1 billion, but it was reduced by Rakoff, who decided that Picard could only recover money from the Wilpons from the immediate two years before Madoff's arrest, not the six years Picard advocated. The settlement, while not overturning Rakoff's decision, does establish for the trustee six years as an acceptable period to recover profits.

The settlement talks were brokered by former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

WHAT IT MEANS: It's unlikely the Wilpons would have settled unless they felt they could withstand that financial obligation without jeopardizing their ownership of the team.

Still, the Wilpons are not out of the woods yet as owners.

Remember, the Mets still have a ton of debt unrelated to the lawsuit. Among the more immediate obligations are a $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America and $25 million emergency loan from Major League Baseball. UPDATE: The Mets have paid those immediate loan obligations thanks for a $240 million equity infusion from minority investors, many of which had existing ties to the ballclub.

You can read about the extent of the debt in Part 1 and Part 2 of the financial series from ESPNNewYork.com from late January.

WHAT'S NEXT: Back to baseball, hopefully.

Actually, it's going to still be the Mets on austerity for a while, because of the financial obligations mentioned above. That means the Wilpons will be utterly dependent upon fan attendance revenue in order to maintain ownership.

The Mets eventually hope to sell 10 to 12 minority shares of the team at $20 million apiece, although a good deal of that appears to be shifting around money among Mets-related entities. For instance, two of those shares are going to Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, who is Fred Wilpon's brother-in-law and Mets president. Another four will go to SportsNet New York, the regional sports channel primarily owned by the Wilpons/Mets.

There is only one known minority buyer without direct connection to the Wilpons or Mets. And that's Steve Cohen, who reportedly is the front-runner for majority ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which would eliminate him as a Mets candidate.

Read the ESPNNewYork.com news story here.

Mets morning briefing 3.16.12

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
6:55
AM ET
Johan Santana, who threw 44 pitches over 2 2/3 innings Sunday, is scheduled to make his third Grapefruit League start today, against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie. Santana now will get into more serious pitch counts -- potentially four innings and roughly 60-65 pitches this time -- as he tries to continue to demonstrate he can handle an every-five-days pitching assignment.

Also scheduled to work Friday: Bobby Parnell (who has logged four scoreless Grapefruit League innings and will be pitching on a second straight day), Jeremy Hefner, Frank Francisco, Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch. Rick Porcello starts for the Tigers.

Friday's news reports:

Jose Reyes faced his former employer for the first time Thursday, although it wasn't much of a reunion. Reyes hit a comebacker to R.A. Dickey on the second pitch he saw, leading off the bottom of the first, and ended up departing following a 54-minute rain delay in the middle of the third. Reyes spoke with New York reporters afterward and suggested there was no real emotion involved in the Grapefruit League matchup. Reyes said he figures the real first matchup will be when the Miami Marlins visit Citi Field for a three-game series beginning April 24. Reyes seemed particularly concerned about David Wright's abdominal issue. He quizzed reporters about Wright's status and separately asked Terry Collins about the shortstop's longtime teammate. Read more in the Journal, Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News, Times and Newsday.

Reyes tells columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post: "I think this year I'm going to play a full season. I've prepared myself to do that. Right now there is nothing to worry about and all my focus is on the field." Said new teammate Logan Morrison: "When I'm tired, I just look at him. He's like a cup of coffee for the eyes."

• Dickey retired all six batters he faced, but the Mets lost to the Marlins, 3-1. Adam Loewen's two-out dropped fly ball in left field allowed two unearned runs to score. Jason Bay went 2-for-2 against Josh Johnson. Ike Davis drove in the Mets' lone run with a ground-rule double. Collins was ejected for arguing a batter interference call against Jordany Valdespin following a bunt by the prospect.

• Top pitching prospects Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia were among 13 players dispatched to minor league camp Thursday, although Collins said Harvey still would be borrowed for Grapefruit League duty. The Mets now have 42 players in camp. The other cuts, which officially came in morning and afternoon waves: center-field prospects Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker, reliever Josh Stinson, as well as Robert Carson, Wilmer Flores, Reese Havens, Juan Lagares, Zach Lutz, Valentino Pascucci and Armando Rodriguez. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post and Record.

• The final witness trustee Irving Picard plans to call in the $386 million lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family that goes to trial next week is Noreen Harrington. She was the person overseeing due diligence for Sterling Stamos, the Wilpon-owned investment company set up to try to match Bernard Madoff's returns. Harrington allegedly raised concerns about Madoff to Wilpon's brother-in-law, Saul Katz. Harrington's skepticism about Madoff allegedly angered Katz and money was invested with Madoff anyway over her objections, leading her to quit. In courtroom filings, the Wilpons' lawyers have said Katz does not recall receiving any stern warning from Harrington, and certainly there was nothing presented to the family by her concretely demonstrating Madoff was a fraud.

Harrington has a track record of being a whistleblower, Richard Sandomir notes in the Times. Sandomir discusses how she alerted then-New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer to irregular trading by a Secaucus, N.J., hedge fund in 2003. Writes Sandomir:

When Harrington first called the New York attorney general's office in 2003, she said that she had heard traders bragging about the practice of “late trading” and that she had tried to alert executives at the firm to the practice. Investigators rely heavily on whistle-blowers, Spitzer said, calling tips like Harrington's the lifeblood of his office. Harrington, he said, was a striking truth-teller. "She not only had a level of credibility in her résumé," Spitzer said. "Everything she said came back with precise corroboration."

Jared Diamond in the Journal visits the Mets' weekly bowling night, which Collins started in his first spring training as manager and continued this year. Wrote Diamond:

One team that included Bay and Dillon Gee came in matching Molson Canadian T-shirts. Bench coach Bob Geren brought two of his own bowling balls, including one decorated to look like a giant baseball. Daniel Herrera, sidelined at the time with a back injury, bought a child-sized Razor scooter at a local Walmart and rode it throughout the evening. The next morning, he cruised into the clubhouse on the scooter, still reveling in his team's success. "Our team is called the Scooters, and I'm the mascot," said Herrera, who stands 5 feet 6. "I have to bring something to the table."

Tony La Russa says Carlos Beltran is getting a raw deal for taking that infamous curveball from Adam Wainwright that ended the Mets' 2006 season in Game 7 of the NLCS.

"The pitch that he took from Wainwright, you talk about the greatest hitters in our game, they all would have," La Russa said, according to the Post. "That ball was way up here and everyone that ever comes to bat would have seen that pitch and taken it. All of a sudden it drops in the strike zone, and this guy's gotten criticized for taking strike three.

"There isn’t anybody who is going to swing at that pitch. Except for Yogi Berra, who swings at everything."

TRIVIA: Which player(s) did the Mets receive in their most-recent trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Thursday's answer: Reyes has the franchise record for homers in a single season by a Mets shortstop. He hit 19 in 2006.

Mets morning briefing 3.15.12

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
6:37
AM ET
The Mets face the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, where Jose Reyes is expected to start at shortstop against his former squad. Reyes did not participate in either of the first two Grapefruit League games between the teams. R.A. Dickey starts for the Mets.

Thursday's news reports:

David Wright returned to camp Wednesday and revealed he actually had torn an abdominal muscle. Wright received an ultrasound-guided cortisone shot Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He predicted he would begin easing into activity as soon as today. He noted his return is going to be a deliberate process, from hitting off a tee, to swinging at flipped balls, to actual batting practice. Regardless, Wright predicted his Opening Day availability was not in jeopardy. Read more in the Record, Newsday, Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

Barry Meier in the Times writes about the Mets' injury track record:

When combining injuries sustained in spring training and the regular season, the Mets led all other teams in both 2008 and 2009 in the number of player days lost to injury, according to data complied by Baseball Prospectus, a sports analysis and opinion Web site. Using those same measurements, the Mets ranked sixth in 2010 before dropping down to a more respectable 12th place last year, Baseball Prospectus found. ... Measuring injuries over the 162-game season, the team ranked second in 2008, third in 2009, sixth in 2010 and ninth in 2011 in days lost to player injures, Baseball Prospectus said.

• Judge Jed S. Rakoff caught legal experts off-guard Wednesday by ruling the burden of proof in the $386 million lawsuit falls on Fred Wilpon and family, not trustee Irving Picard, who filed the lawsuit. A week after expressing skepticism Picard could prove the Wilpons acted in bad faith and with "willful blindness" with respect to their investments in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, Rakoff on Wednesday ruled the burden doesn't rest with the trustee. Instead, the Wilpons' attorneys must convince the jury by a preponderance of the evidence that the family acted in good faith.

The ruling is a win for Picard. After all, it's more difficult for a defendant to have to prove he's not guilty than being assumed innocent at the start of the trial.

Perhaps Rakoff's ruling should not have been a surprise, given Rakoff wrote last week that the trustee would have to rebut the Wilpons demonstrating good faith.

Should the trial end adversely for the Wilpons, the judge's decision could be one area their attorneys try to appeal. Picard will have grounds for appeal as well, including the judge using a "willful blindness" as opposed to "inquiry notice" ("should-have-known") standard. Picard also believes he is entitled to recover money from the six years before Madoff's arrest, not the two years at which the judge capped the recovery period.

Read more in the Times, Post and Daily News.

Dillon Gee allowed a two-run homer to Prince Fielder but no other damage in four innings. The Mets ultimately lost to the Detroit Tigers, 7-6, in 10 innings Wednesday.

• The Mets suspended bullpen catcher Eric Langill for a week without pay, three days after he was charged with driving under the influence.

• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey looked sharp in a minor league intrasquad game, tossing 58 of 75 pitches for strikes and registering as high as 96 mph on a radar gun. Read more in the Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Steve Cohen, the only known intended purchaser of a $20 million minority share of the Mets without some existing tie to the organization, may not be able to be a partner after all. Cohen has emerged as the top candidate to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, USA Today reports. That would prevent Cohen from also having a stake in the Mets.

TRIVIA: Who has the most homers by a Mets shortstop in a single season in franchise history?

Wednesday's answer: Mets PR man Jay Horwitz is in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Hall of Fame. He served as the school's sports information director before Frank Cashen hired him with the Mets in 1980.

Burden on Wilpons to prove good faith

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
8:00
PM ET
In a major ruling Wednesday heading into next week's trial, U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff threw a curveball to the defense team in the $386 million lawsuit against Fred Wilpon, his family, businesses and charities.

Five days before jury selection is set to begin in the civil trial in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, Rakoff ruled the burden is on the Wilpons to convince a jury they did not act in “bad faith” when they profited from convicted swindler Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

The burden will not be on trustee Irving Picard, who brought the lawsuit, to prove the Wilpons were “willfully blind” to the Ponzi scheme.

Read the full news story here.

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