New York Mets: Wilpons

Mets minority owner charged by SEC

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
5:55
PM ET
NEW YORK -- New York Mets minority owner Steven A. Cohen has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with failing to supervise employees and prevent them from insider trading.

Cohen owns a 4 percent share of the Mets, for which he paid $20 million. The Mets and MLB did not have a comment regarding how these charges could affect Cohen's part-ownership with the team.

Cohen, 57, became a minority owner in 2012 after the Mets began selling shares of the team in the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff fiasco. The Mets sold 12 minority shares for a total of $240 million.

The Mets' majority owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, reached a settlement in March 2012 to pay $162 million to victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme. That total has dropped to $86 million.

The Mets have faced financial issues lately. The team lost approximately $50 million in 2010 and roughly $60 million in 2011, according to GM Sandy Alderson. The New York Post reported that they were expected to lose $23 million last year.

As the funds have decreased, the Mets have not been active in free agency over the past few years and the team has struggled. The Mets, however, are planning on being players in free agency this upcoming winter and aim to add a marquee player, if possible.

Cohen also tried to purchase the Dodgers in 2012, but he lost out to Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Baseball Management group.

Podcast: Adam Rubin on the settlement's impact

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
2:11
PM ET
Adam Rubin speaks with Stephen A. Smith about what Monday's $162 million settlement with trustee Irving Picard means for the Mets.

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How do the Wilpons lose the Mets?

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
2:43
PM ET
I've known Fred Wilpon for more than a decade, but that is sort of an untrue statement.

There has always been a standoffish quality to him. This may have been partly because I was the beat guy for the New York Post for a few years or it could be how he is with most reporters. One thing that always stuck out about Fred is that when things weren't going well he was much harder to get on the phone than when the Mets were winning.

Still, some like to say Fred is a good man -- and I have no reason to doubt that, nor really any first-hand reasons to say that it is certainly true. He has always kept at a distance.

One thing I am certain of is that he really has a sincere love of owning the Mets. He loves the game and loves being the man in charge of the Mets. He also loves the idea of passing it down from generation to generation.

At this point, it seems to me he is putting his love of the Mets ahead of your love of the Mets. He wants Jeff, his son, and then Jeff's sons to own the team.

You want them to field a competitive teams that can actually pay great players so you can see winning baseball.

That is why my teammate Adam Rubin's excellent piece on how the Wilpons will either end up keeping or losing the team will certainly be the most important thing you read on the team today and possibly this year.

It is a must-read if you are interested in this subject. This is how it ends, quoting Dr. Joel Maxcy, an associate professor and member of Temple University's Sport Industry Research Center.
In the interim, the Mets' payroll could continue to operate on austerity as it will in 2012 -- meaning the team's success primarily will depend upon production from the farm system, as would be the case with a middle- or small-market team.

"It could work," Maxcy said. "Maybe the Madoff settlement is less than expected. Maybe revenues are greater than expected. Maybe the $200 million is raised through the [minority ownership] shares and everything works out. Maybe the team is much more competitive on the field next year than expected -- a good team with a low payroll -- and the economy picks up and so forth.

"But it's certainly a precarious situation that typically, you would say, it would be better for the Mets if a new owner were able to purchase the team."
Mets' pitchers and catchers may be reporting on Feb. 20, but the next most important dates in the team history are actually Feb. 16th and Feb. 23.

Feb. 16th is the deadline for submission of final reply briefings for a ruling by Judge Rakoff' whether the Wilpons are only on the hook for two years and $83 million as opposed to the $295 million over six years that Irving Picard currently seeks. This is a chance for Picard to try to have an important partial victory on Judge Rakoff's playing field.

If Judge Rakoff so chooses, he could have a packed house for the oral arguments on the subject on Feb. 23rd. Shortly, thereafter, he could issue a final opinion and order.

So Feb. 16th and Feb. 23rd are the vital dates. But in this game is always feels like it is not over until it is over because ... they can still appeal more if they so choose after a trial and to other other courts.

Still, in terms of the future ownership of the Mets, these two Febuary dates are very significant. Even with Bud Selig in their corner, it is unclear if the Wilpons could survive a major loss in this case without being forced to sell the team.

There is a belief among some that settlement talks are going on. Even with the Wilpons owning the upper hand based on last week's and earlier Rakoff rulings and the possibility that they may only (relative term) lose $83 million, they may want to avoid having their family and business finances exposed to the world in such a trial.

In the end, no one knows for sure if there will be a trial that is set right now for March 19th.

"Because of the complexities of issues and hardening of positions by the adversaries, I think the likelihood is there will be a trial," said lawyer Michael J. Kline of Fox Rothschild LLP in Princeton.

Q: Will you buy tickets?

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
9:28
AM ET
With Christmas now passed and Chanukah finishing up tonight, it seems like a good time to gauge if you will buy tickets this year to the Mets.

It is far from scientific, but my Mets' fan friends and my tweeps on Twitter seem to all be saying they are not buying tickets. There is no way to blame them. You know the story. The broke Wilpons have not allowed their front office to do anything so last place seems probable for the Mets.

So the Mets have offered their fans nothing to get excited about here as the coldest months of the year arrive and there is virtually no chance that will change between now and first pitch on April 5 against the Braves. So where does leave you?

So here is the simple question: Will you buy tickets this year?

MLB GM: Omar's power is diminished

April, 1, 2010
4/01/10
1:20
PM ET
Here is the thing you need to know when you call into the talk shows: It is not all Omar Minaya's fault.

Omar may be the face of the organization. He may be the one fired by June. But Omar is not the one making all the decisions. He is just set up to take the blame for all the decisions.

This is the Wilpons' gameplan. An MLB GM told me recently that, from his dealings, Omar's power has been greatly diminished. Omar just can't pull the trigger on moves.

Throughout the winter, others have reported similar things.

This is a key point as the Mets start their season because although Omar used the term "autonomy" about a million times when he first returned as a hero to run the Mets. Now he is about as autonomous as a Siamese twin.

Before Omar walked the plank, Jim Duquette -- I know, I know, he was the GM when the Kazmir trade was made -- was the scapegoat. They gave Duquette a smaller payroll and then blamed him when the team was no good.

Now, it will be Omar being blamed unless you, the fans, see the setup. The Wilpons are right when they say they spend a lot of money. They do. The fact that they haven't spent it that wisely, of course, largely, falls on Omar.

But when Omar goes into meetings with other GMs without power, there is only so much he can do. Omar is making millions so there should be no pity for him, but just understand where the blame should really go if the Mets start slowly. The Wilpons run this organization.

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