Yesterday Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded the nearly $700 million in debt against Citi Field to negative. That means that they’re reducing the debt to below investment grade. Forbes details the financial assault that the Mets are facing. The financial prospects for the Mets and Wilpon appear to be getting more dire by the day.
Without Jose Reyes on the roster the team is poised for even lower attendance than the 2011 season. The Mets have also floated the possibility that Johan Santana may not be healthy and ready for opening day after not throwing a pitch in 2011. Other than David Wright, who is in the final year of his contract (plus a team option for 2013), there isn’t much of a reason to go out the park in 2012.
It’s clear that the rest of the teams in the division have made roster improvements while the Mets have essentially failed to enter the free agent market. For the second offseason in a row, Sandy Alderson was handcuffed by the team’s financial situation. His only contribution to re-making the roster has been to shuffle some players in and out of the bullpen and the bench. The Mets GM job has to be one of the worst in baseball right now.
Most media outlets are reporting that Jose Reyes agreed to a 6 year/$106 million contract with the Marlins that includes a seventh year option at $22 million with a $4 million buyout. The Marlins are not giving Reyes a no-trade clause. He’ll join recently signed Heath Bell and incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the Miami roster.
It’s a sad day for Mets fans and it looks pretty silly that the Mets didn’t trade him during the 2011 season when they could have gotten something for him. The Mets will not receive the Marlins first round pick because of the Marlins poor record last season.
There’s been a lot of chatter this week about Jose Reyes having two meetings with the Marlins since he hit free agency. The Marlins executives were in New York last week for a meeting and Reyes was in Miami for lunch and a tour of the new stadium on Wednesday. But don’t expect a quick resolution to Reyes’ contract situation.
Reyes is one of the top free agent position players available this offseason along with Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. As such, the top free agents will typically meet with several teams to gauge interest.
Although it seems like a long shot that Reyes will re-sign with the Mets, and it probably is a very long shot, don’t expect a quick resolution to a contract with the first team Reyes meets with. The Marlins have plenty of issues to deal with including how to handle the fact that they already have a shortstop that probably won’t want to leave that position. Hanley Ramirez’ value as a player is drastically reduced if he isn’t a shortstop anymore. It’s one of the premium defensive positions and even more so for a player that can really hit.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon filed papers with the Federal District Court in Manhattan attempting to avoid a jury trial against Irving Picard, the trustee for the Madoff victims. According to a report in the NY Times on Friday, the issue at hand is that the two remaining charges against Wilpon are generated from bankruptcy law according to Wilpon’s legal team. Generally, a bankruptcy case wouldn’t contain a jury component. The judge would render verdicts.
Wilpon and his legal team were emboldened by Judge Jed Rakoff dismissing nine of the eleven charges against Wilpon last month. So they want the same judge to render a verdict during a trial for the remaining two charges.
Picard filed a motion claiming that the victims of fraud in this case are entitled to a jury trial against the alleged perpetrators of fraud like Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz.
The Madoff fraud case is a stench that’s been hanging over the Mets for far too long. This is going to be the second offseason that the Mets have had to walk a financial tightrope when negotiating with free agents. Although the highest potential verdict against Wilpon in now $386 million instead of $1 billion, it still inhibits the Mets ability to re-sign Jose Reyes and negotiate with other free agents.
I’ve heard so many Mets fans tell me that they wish Wilpon would sell the team and go away. It’s hard to argue that point when the Mets are in the midst of one of the darkest periods in team history. At least the early 1960’s Mets had the excuse that they were an expansion team. The current crop of “stars” like Jason Bay are playing in a brand new park and still can’t draw a decent crowd. It’s a sad state of affairs for this team.
In this week’s Mets Weekly Report, I talk with Kerel Cooper of OnTheBlack.com about two Mets players that have been prominent in the news this week. Everyone is concerned about the looming specter of Jose Reyes’ free agency. But there are some other big names that are going to be in free agency when the 2011 season ends including Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Kerel brings up the question “Who is more valuable to their team Reyes or Pujols?”.
We also talk about the Mets decision to re-sign relief pitcher Tim Byrdak before he hits free agency. Byrdak has had a solid year as the lefty specialist and even navigated some full innings during the 2011 season.
Check out the video below for our thoughts on Reyes and Byrdak.
This was quite the interesting year for our New York Mets, from the worst start in club history to HatGate… with 9 games left to the season there are still a few things to look forward to. Hard to believe a team who has been out of playoff contention for months can have so much riding on the last 9 games of the season but it’s more about hope for the future than anything else.
Will Reyes Win the Batting Title?
Our first batting champion in Mets history? Although it won’t help our prospects of resigning him, but if the Mets do manage to resign Jose Reyes this will be a huge reason, maybe the only reason, why the fans will come back next year… to see our homegrown Batting Champion lead a new round of youngsters to a winning season.
Will the Mets End Up in Last?
I actually picked the Mets for last this year. They are 4 games out of last with 9 to play. They also happen to play a series against the Phillies and Cards before they end the season against the Reds. Will the Phillies cruise and give the Mets a break or will they go all out and try to bury the Mets? The Cards are in full blown Wild Card race mode so they will be tough to beat.