--A federal judge ruled Monday that the owners of the New York Mets must pay more than $80 million to a trustee trying to recover funds for losers in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and the team will have to stand trial later this month in a civil lawsuit seeking to recover another $300 million more.
US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled on Monday that principal owner Fred Wilpon and his family, businesses and charities must pay as much as $83 million to the trustee, Irving Picard. Rakoff also ruled that Picard and Mets ownership will go to trial on March 19 over an additional $303 million.
The total of $386 million was determined by Rakoff, who decided that Picard is entitled to attempt to collect money from the Wilpons only from the two years immediately preceding Madoff's arrest in December 2008. Picard had originally sued for $1 billion, based on a six-year period.
The Wilpons have denied knowingly participating in a Ponzi scheme, maintaining through their attorneys that they were not sophisticated investors capable of recognizing Madoff's fraud. Rakoff wrote Monday that "(the) Court remains skeptical that the Trustee can ultimately rebut the defendants' showing of good faith."
--1B Ike Davis are treating slugger Ike Davis as if he has valley fever, even though Davis said he is experiencing no symptoms.
Davis said that results of blood tests taken in New York were not yet known. He played in the Mets' intrasquad game Saturday, and he had two hits.
Symptoms of valley fever include fever, cough, chest pain, chills, night sweats, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, joint aches and a red, spotty rash, according to the Mayo Clinic's Web site.
"We're treating him as if that's what it is," Mets manager Terry Collins told MLB.com. "We can't let him run down. That's what we've been told. We'll give him some days off. He says he can go, and he's been doing everything he's supposed to. But we need to be sure he doesn't push it."
If Davis receives an official diagnosis of valley fever, his absence could be lengthy. Diamondbacks player Conor Jackson missed most of 2009 because of Valley fever.
--3B David Wright was scratched from an intrasquad game Saturday due to left ribcage stiffness, and he will sit out at least the Mets' first two Grapefruit League games, Monday and Tuesday. Both Wright and manager Terry Collins said the ailment is minor, but they want to prevent Wright from exacerbating the problem so early in spring training.
--The financially challenged New York Mets have not been receiving as much help as they used to from ballpark revenues, which have reportedly dropped 30 percent since 2009, and premium-ticket sales, which have fallen 50 percent.
Financial documents obtained by Newsday showed the losses, which included major drops in concession and parking revenues.
The report came as the Mets' owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, prepared for a federal judge to rule Monday on whether there should be a trial for Irving Picard's $386-million lawsuit against them, regarding to the Bernie Madoff scandal.
Picard, a bankruptcy trustee, is seeking a return on money the Wilpons and Katz invested with Madoff, who was convicted of running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
Along with the questionable financial status pending the result of the potential lawsuit, the Mets lost plenty of potential revenue the past few years, according to the report.
Concession revenue fell 28 percent since 2009 to $10.9 million last year, while parking dropped 37 percent to $7 million in the same timeframe.
As the Mets struggled on the field, their ticket revenue for their 10,365 premium seats at Citi Field dropped to $50.6 million in 2011 from $99.3 million in 2009.
--The Mets are close to finalizing as many as 12 minority stakes in team ownership, giving owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as much as a $240 million infusion of cash. Wilpon said in a rare public appearance at Mets' camp that he intends "to own the franchise for a very long time."
--OF Lucas Duda has drawn rave reviews for his batting practice sessions during the early days of camp. Duda, who became the starting right fielder after the Mets traded Carlos Beltran last July, batted .292 with 10 home runs in 301 at-bats, all of his home runs coming after the All-Star break.
--Mets manager Terry Collins held a private meeting with SS Ruben Tejada after he arrived on time to camp. Collins had hoped that Tejada would join the rest of the starting lineup in arriving early so that he could begin working defensively around the second base bag with 2B Daniel Murphy. Tejada will take over for the departed Jose Reyes this season.
--LHP Robert Carson, who is in competition for a bullpen job, was pulled from the Mets' pitching schedule after suffering a left intercostal strain. Carson finished 4-11 with a 5.01 ERA last season at Double-A, almost exclusively as a starting pitcher.
--A stiff back recently sidelined top 2B prospect Reese Havens, who has missed much of the last two years because of injuries. Havens, 25, batted .289 with a .372 on-base percentage at Double-A last season, but appeared in only
--Although INF Justin Turner will not compete for a starting job this spring, he is almost guaranteed to make the team as a jack-of-all-trades utilityman. Turner, who batted .260 with four home runs last season, recently acquired a first-baseman's glove and will also serve as the Mets' primary backup at second and third base.
BY THE NUMBERS
$91 million -- The Mets' projected Opening Day payroll, roughly a 37 percent decrease from 2011.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I was tired of throwing money at something and not getting success." -- Mets' owner Fred Wilpon, on why he decided to significantly reduce the team's payroll in 2012.
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