The New York Post reports that baseball sources confirmed that Mets co-owner Saul Katz not only wanted to sell his stake in the Mets, he tried to convince Fred Wilpon to sell as well. Apparently, Wilpon is intent on leaving the Mets in Jeff’s hands and has no interest in selling.
The Mets arrived at Port St. Lucie today to some silly Underdog t-shirts that Jeff Wilpon had made. Apparently, it’s a misguided attempt to motivate the players with an “us against the world” mentality. It’s extremely childish for a guy that considers himself an “executive”.
Here’s a pic of the t-shirts. What do you think? Would that make you motivated?
Even CNNMoney is getting in on the Mets-Madoff story now. They correctly point out that the Mets’ financial situation could get more desperate quickly as their first player payroll is due on April 15 and debt payments come due not long after that.
There isn’t much in the video that we didn’t already know. But it’s interesting to see the Wilpon’s faces and tone of voice as they made a statement last month about the situation.
We also got a glimpse into what the Mets-owned SNY response would be last night during the opening game telecast. Clearly, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were reading prepared statements about the Madoff lawsuit. Their prepared statements gave no indication of their true feelings, thoughts, or concerns about the situation. As employees of the Mets-owned TV station, I would expect nothing less if they want to keep their jobs.
Although Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz are wealthy, they don’t know very much about investing their money or how it’s handled. At least that’s their story in a legal filing attempting to dismiss the Madoff trustee lawsuit against them for more than $1 billion.
The defendants have consistently stated that the trustee’s lawsuit is a work of fiction. But reading through the legal filing from the Mets owners tonight, I’d have to say that their side of the story doesn’t come across well.
I find it hard to believe that the Wilpons and Katz aren’t sophisticated investors and that’s the argument that they’re making. Anyone that controls billions of dollars makes it their business to be a sophisticated investor. Casting themselves as bumbling fools that happened to make more money than most people see in their lives is ridiculous.
The Mets owners need to get serious about settling this case. This stunt of a dismissal motion is nothing more than a PR tactic being used to try to fight the lawsuit through the media. If they don’t get serious about settling the case and solidifying their ownership position with the Mets, it’s going to continue to hurt the team in multiple ways. Notably, the players will have to continue to answer questions day after day about the team’s finances instead of the game on the field.
This “uncertainty” is going to continue as long as the owners continue to make statements like the following from Saul Katz:
“I don’t do well in the markets, the stock market,” Katz said. “I’m not good at it, it’s not my business. I don’t have an active account anywhere.”
Fred Wilpon was asked in a deposition if he knew how Madoff was able to make money investing:
“I’m not an investment person…so I wouldn’t have any kind of expertise.”
If this is the strategy that the Wilpons and Katz plan to employ, they’re in bigger trouble with this lawsuit than I thought they were. Playing dumb is never a good defense and for people that built an empire in New York it’s a really bad idea.
Fred Wilpon arrived in Port St. Lucie today and defiantly told reporters that his family will be vindicated. He spoke to reporters at length about the Madoff trustee lawsuit against him and said that he’s done nothing wrong and the Mets won’t be affected by the suit. It’s the same thing he told reporters at his press conference a couple of weeks ago.
Here are the stories that are in the news from PSL:
Fred and Jeff Wilpon held a conference call with reporters to announce that they’re exploring the potential of selling about 20-25% of the Mets. At last year’s Forbes valuation, that means that they’re looking to raise about $200 million.
The genesis of this action is that the Wilpons are being sued by the trustee for the Madoff victims. Some reports say that the lawsuit against the Wilpons could be for as much as $1 billion.
In October, Fred Wilpon defiantly told reporters that the Madoff situation had no impact on the Mets. In December, the trustee sued the Wilpons. Now we find out that the Madoff problem does affect the Mets. Clearly, the Wilpons didn’t understand what they were up against and they probably still don’t.
I’m sure that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the Madoff issue. With the Mets expected to have a down season, I’ll be watching to see how quickly the Mets start trying to dump salary this year. If it’s too early, that may be an indication that the Wilpons can’t afford this team anymore.
Listen to the press conference below. You can hear Fred literally choking on his own words as he talks about his financial problems that have led him to this point.
Here’s a video of Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports on the Mets hiring of Sandy Alderson as General Manager. He’s very positive about the move and talks about how Alderson’s presence will allow Jeff Wilpon to take a less active role in baseball operations. I know that’s something that we’re all looking forward to.
Check out the video below from Rosenthal and comment with your thoughts on the Sandy Alderson hiring.