Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 12:05 pm
David Einhorn was supposed to be the answer for what ailed the Mets financially.
He agreed to be a minority partner with the owning Wilpon family, and was ready to contribute money up front to potentially get them through their Madoff crisis. He had a path to full ownership, if the Wilpons became too damaged by the Madoff mess to continue. He was a Mets fan, who once played baseball in Bud Selig's yard.
And as recently as July, Selig brought up the sale of a minority share to Einhorn as one reason that the Mets were so much better off than the McCourt Dodgers.
That all seemed true, until the Mets and Einhorn announced Thursday morning that their talks were off. There is no agreement. He will not be the minority owner of the Mets, and there is no path for him to become full owner.
In a statement and later on a conference call, Einhorn blamed the Mets for trying to change the terms of the deal late last week.
He called it a "sad outcome."
The Mets, in their statement, simply said that they have decided not to negotiate any more with Einhorn, and that they would "explore other options."
So what does this all mean for the future of the Wilpons and the future of the Mets?
That's hard to say just yet, and it almost certainly depends in large part on the outcome of Madoff trustee Irving Picard's lawsuit, which seeks huge amounts of money from the Wilpons.
There is some thought that because the court case seems to be going better for the Wilpons, they're not as desperate for Einhorn's cash. In their statement, the Mets said that ownership has come up with more money to cover the team's 2011 losses, and is "moving forward with the necessary resources to continue to operate the franchise."
Does that mean the Wilpons now think they have enough cash to keep from slashing the Mets' payroll (which is expected to go down some, in any case)? Does that mean the Wilpons have enough cash to make a legitimate offer to pending free agent Jose Reyes?
We may not know the answers to those questions for a few months.
What we know now is that the deal that was announced with so much fanfare in May is now off.
Einhorn said further negotiations with the Wilpons would be "pointless."
He also said that some reports of the agreement, including the one that said that in some circumstances he could buy the rest of the team for $1, were inaccurate.
Einhorn did not detail the changes the Mets asked for last week. He did give one example, saying that he had asked for baseball to approve him as a potential full owner, and that the Mets lobbied MLB to make that impossible.
If the Wilpons get out of the Madoff case relatively unscathed, it's possible that the breakdown of the Einhorn talks won't damage the Mets. Or maybe the Wilpons will be able to find someone else who wants to invest with them.
As of now, though, it's hard to see how this is good news for the Mets.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:58 am
The Mets have found someone willing to be Fred Wilpon's minority partner.
The team announced Wednesday morning that Wilpon has entered into exclusive negotiations with David Einhorn, the hedge-fund manager who runs Greenlight Capital, Inc., and made a fortune betting against Allied Capital and Lehman Brothers.
The Mets said that Einhorn, a Mets fan, would invest $200 million for a minority share. While some reports say he would take a 49 percent share, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that it would actually be less than that. Heyman also reported that Einhorn is negotiating for the right to buy a majority stake if the cash-strapped Wilpons are eventually forced to sell the team.
The Mets have been in financial distress, mainly because the Wilpon family invested heavily in the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 5:32 pm
When the Mets hired Sandy Alderson last fall, and when Alderson reassembled part of his old Oakland front office by bringing in J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta (all supposedly with huge salaries), there was a lot of talk about "Moneyball with money."
DePodesta even referenced it when he joined the Mets in November.
"We have a lot of work to do to get to that level, but the opportunity to be able to do that is really exciting, no question," he said that day, according to MLB.com.
Now, more and more, it looks like the idea was Moneyball . . . without money.
In the latest stop on his awkward media blitz, Mets owner Fred Wilpon admitted to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that the Mets will not spend most of the $64 million coming off the payroll after this year. Verducci suggested that the Mets will reduce the payroll by 30 percent, a cut of more than $40 million that would likely drop them into the bottom half of big-league payrolls.
Not only that, but as Wilpon talked to Verducci about the payroll, he said, "That's one of the reasons that I needed someone like Sandy Alderson."
The assumption all along has been that Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez won't be Mets next season, and that it was almost certain that Jose Reyes would leave as well, either as a free agent or through a midseason trade.
But the more Wilpon talks, the more it seems that he hired Alderson in hopes he would shop at the same bargain bins he was forced to frequent with the A's.
As one Mets person said Tuesday, "We're out beating the bushes [the minor leagues] for players. That's all we can afford."
Wilpon also told Verducci that he believes he'll be able to hold onto his team, assuming he doesn't lose all the money that Madoff trustee Irving Picard is trying to recover from him.
That means more Wilpon ownership, and maybe more Moneyball . . . without money.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: May 23, 2011 12:42 pm
Bud Selig was right!
Just as the commissioner has said over and over, the Mets and Dodgers are not at all alike. Just check out this week's New Yorker for proof.
Of all the dumb things Dodgers lame-duck owner Frank McCourt has said and done, he didn't invite a reporter into his suite to listen to him make fun of his players. No, that was the latest dumb thing that (possibly lame-duck) Mets owner Fred Wilpon did.
The rips of Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran are buried in Jeffrey Toobin's very sympathetic, 10,000-word look at Wilpon's relationship with Bernard Madoff (Toobin gave Madoff another chance to proclaim Wilpon's innocence), but it's the rips that had Mets fans talking Monday morning.
Reyes "thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money" and "won't get it," Wilpon told Toobin while they watched an early-season Mets loss together.
Wright is "A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar," Wilpon said.
Beltran is "65 to 70 percent of what he was," and got his seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets solely because of "one [playoff] series."
Some Mets fans will no doubt concur with the owner's judgments. Some Mets fans will no doubt be thrilled to hear that the owner can be as emotional about the team as they are.
But do you really want to tell your best players that the owner thinks they're not that good? Do you really want to tell other teams that the players you're going to try to trade this summer aren't worth the money?
This is so typical Mets.
No, Selig is right. Fred Wilpon is no Frank McCourt.
Posted on: December 17, 2008 1:42 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2008 2:59 pm
It's been a funny winter for the Mets.
Baseball-wise, everything is great. They rebuilt their troubled bullpen with Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, and they even found a taker for Scott Schoeneweis. They don't have a fourth starter yet, but the way that market is looking, they'll probably get one eventually at a decent price.
All is well, as long as you don't mind losing millions of dollars. Or hundreds of millions.
Financially, everything isn't great. It began with the problems at Citigroup, a huge Mets sponsor and the holder of the naming rights for their new ballpark. The Mets insist the new park will still be called CitiField, and they held today's Rodriguez press conference at a holiday party for local kids, held at the Citi Building in Queens.
But it's not just Citi. Mets owner Fred Wilpon is said to have invested hundreds of millions of dollars with Bernie Madoff, whose $50 billion "Ponzi scheme" came to light late last week. So now the Mets are having to reassure their employees and everyone else that the losses won't take down the team, too.
Jeff Wilpon, Fred's son and the Mets' COO, repeated the assurances today.
"Not at all," he said, when asked how the Madoff scandal will affect the Mets operations. "It's truly two different things."
Wilpon said he and his father won't be any more hesitant to spend money, because of what they have lost with Madoff. In fact, he suggested that the best way for the Wilpons to start earning back some of the money they lost is for the Mets to succeed.
"That's better for us," Wilpon said.
Wilpon said his sympathy is with people who were depending on Madoff money more than he and his father were.
"I feel really bad for people who had a lot less money (invested) than we did, and who don't have an operating business," he said.