Results tagged ‘ Fred Wilpon ’

Fred Wilpon and “the best meeting I’ve ever been a part of”

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Over the past half-decade, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon has made himself exceedingly scarce in public settings. And while Wilpon continues to avoid interview requests on a regular basis, he has become a more visible presence at Mets camp, frequently meeting with manager Terry Collins before and after games.

wilpon_fred720_wr9f5xxy_pe8vj3pcThat manifested itself in a different way early Monday morning, when Wilpon gathered everyone in big league camp for his first closed-door meeting with players in years. One player described the meeting as exceedingly positive and “very, very genuine,” saying Wilpon expressed to the players how badly he wants to win.

“Fred’s always been upbeat,” third baseman David Wright said. “I’d say that the vast majority of conversations that I’ve ever had with Mr. Wilpon have been very upbeat, so nothing different.”

Wilpon, who has not spoken on record in over two years, declined comment on the meeting, brushing past a group of media members with his bodyguard.

Players, however, did not describe Wilpon as angry or even upset, despite six straight losing seasons. To the contrary, they portrayed the 78-year-old owner as cheerful and optimistic; one player went as far as to call Monday’s gathering “the best meeting I’ve ever been a part of.”

“I’d like to think that whenever anybody has the floor, that it gets everybody’s attention,” Wright said. “When you have very few meetings, regardless of what the meetings are about, they mean a little bit more. When you start having meetings for the sake of having meetings, sometimes the message doesn’t quite come through. But when you have limited meetings about baseball, like we have, when somebody speaks, the message I think comes through a little clearer.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Remembering Ralph Kiner

Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, a Mets broadcaster since the team’s inception in 1962, passed away Thursday at age 91. Marty Noble’s obituary on Kiner sums up how the baseball world felt about him.

Here are some additional reflections from around the game on Kiner’s passing:

Mets owner Fred Wilpon: “Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman.  After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit, and charm entertained generations of Mets fans. Like his stories, he was one of a kind. We send our deepest condolences to Ralph’s five children and 12 grandchildren. Our sport and society today lost one of the all-time greats.”

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig: “Ralph Kiner was one of the greatest sluggers in National League history, leading the Senior Circuit in home runs in each of the first seven years of his Hall of Fame career. His consistent power and patience in the heart of the Pirates lineup made him a member of our All-Century Team and, in many respects, a player ahead of his time.

“Ralph dominated at the plate for a decade, but his contributions to our National Pastime spanned generations. For 52 years, Ralph was a one-of-a-kind voice of the Mets, linking baseball’s unparalleled history to New York’s new National League franchise since its very inception.

“I am grateful that I recently had the opportunity to visit with Ralph, whose lifetime of service to Baseball will always be treasured by the fans of Pittsburgh, New York and beyond. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his five children, his 12 grandchildren, his friends throughout our game and his admirers everywhere.”

Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver: “He was a jewel. He loved the game of baseball. He loved to see it played correctly and smartly. He loved to talk baseball. He deeply understood the game, especially hitting. “

Former Mets outfielder Rusty Staub: “He was my broadcast partner for 10 years. We had great fun during the games. We both enjoyed good food and wine. Most of all, he was one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met.”

Former Mets pitcher Al Jackson: “He was a player’s guy. We didn’t win a lot in those days. He didn’t try to hide the fact we were losing, but he did it in a nice way. I lost a lot of games in 1962 and 1963 and had no problem going on with him.”

Former Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda: “In those days we didn’t have hitting coaches. I was struggling. One September afternoon in 1969 (September 15), I asked him to come and feed balls through the pitching machine. We talked for about an hour. He gave me tips on holding the bat. That night I had the greatest night of my career. I hit two home runs off Steve Carlton and we won, 4-3.“ (Swoboda’s two two-run home runs accounted for all Mets runs on the night Carlton struck out 19).

Former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden: “I loved going on Kiner’s Korner. I enjoyed talking baseball with Ralph, especially learning about players from his era. But what really made it special was every time you went on, you got a $100. For a rookie like me in 1984, a $100 was a big deal.”

Mets broadcaster Howie Rose: “Losing Ralph is like losing a member of the family. His warmth, humility and sense of humor will be missed. I’ll always treasure being able to share a broadcast booth with a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.”

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Scenes from the Mets’ first full-squad workout

The Mets held their first full-squad workout today in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The day in pictures:

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while manager Terry Collins looks on.

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while Terry Collins looks on.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Travis d’Arnaud warms up his arm:


Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day's proceedings.

Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day’s proceedings.

Josh Edgin throws a bullpen session:


Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

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Mets owners reportedly pined for Willets Point casino

Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz reportedly lobbied to bring a Las Vegas-style casino to the Willets Point area around Citi Field. From today’s New York Post:

While team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz are still having trouble opening their tight pockets for high-priced free agents, that didn’t stop their development arm, Sterling Equities, from betting on a proposal that called for bringing a massive casino with gaming tables and slots, a 500-room, full-service hotel, 1.8 million square feet of retail and other amenities to the Willets Point development site in Queens.

The Southampton-based Shinnecock Indian Nation signed on to operate the casino, and the Wilpons and partners even offered the city $100 million for the 62-acre site, according to the development team’s proposal, which was first obtained by project opponents Willets Point United and NYC Park Advocates.

With live-dealer casino gambling currently illegal in New York, except on tribal lands, the Wilpons and partner Related Companies were awarded a consolation prize.

In June, the Bloomberg administration handed them 23 of the 62 acres of city-owned land they sought in the September 2011 casino proposal — most of which is now used for parking — to build a $3 billion retail and entertainment complex without a casino.


Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Report from Port St. Lucie, 3/5

A rare night game at Digital Domain Park offered a potential glimpse of the future, pitting Matt Harvey against Nationals uber-prospect Bryce Harper. Harper won their lone battle of the evening, drawing a walk.

The big news of the day was that a federal judge decided not to dismiss trustee Irving Picard’s case against the Mets, ensuring that the two sides will go to trial on March 19.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Report from Port St. Lucie, 2/27

It’s been a year since Fred Wilpon has publicly discussed the financial and legal issues surrounding the Mets at any length, so the principal owner drew a huge crowd while holding court for 22 minutes Monday on matters ranging from the sale of minority shares to David Wright’s future to the 2013 All-Star Game.

Wilpon wasn’t the only member of the Mets’ hierarchy to hold court Monday. Manager Terry Collins also addressed his team for an hour prior to the spring first full-squad workout, reminding them that “there’s not a phase of this game we can take for granted.”

Oh, and Wright lost a bet. Pictures below:

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Fred Wilpon and baseball ops

I tend to look at things through the prism of baseball. I enjoy the game, the people and the stories; the extraneous stuff that sometimes pops up does not interest me.

So when I read Fred Wilpon’s critical comments in today’s New Yorker magazine (see previous post), my mind turned immediately of their effect on the team’s baseball operations. The three stars Wilpon criticized — Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright — are all trade candidates for the Mets this summer. Reyes and Beltran in particular are likely to be gone before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

So why would the owner of the team come out and disparage those three players, calling Wright “not a superstar,” referring to Beltran “sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was” and saying that Reyes “had everything wrong with him”?

Now, shred general managers can flaunt those comments in front of the Mets when they look to extract value from their stars this summer. That premium package for Reyes may lose some of its luster in light of the team’s self-deprecation. The Mets may have just given other clubs reason to lower their offers for Beltran, as well. And what about Wright, who remains under contract for two more seasons? Will he be as willing to stick around long-term?

Judge Wilpon as a person if you must. More damaging to the Mets may be the effects of his comments on the team.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets officially face $1 billion lawsuit

A full story detailing Irving Picard’s amended lawsuit is coming later today on For now, here’s a copy of the Picard’s press release detailing the suit, via the trustee’s web site:

NEW YORK, NY – March 18, 2011 – Irving H. Picard, the Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) today announced the filing of an amended complaint, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, against Sterling Equities (“Sterling”), its partners, their family members, and certain related trusts and entities (collectively, the “Sterling Defendants”).

The amended complaint provides additional specific detail and quantification of the alleged fraudulent transfers from BLMIS received by the Sterling Defendants.

In addition to the approximately $300 million in fictitious profits received by the Sterling Defendants cited in the original complaint, the amended complaint states that the Trustee seeks more than $700 million in alleged fraudulent transfers of principal received by the Sterling Defendants, bringing the total recoveries sought by the Trustee from the Sterling Defendants to more than $1 billion. The additional alleged fraudulent transfers of principal occurred during the six years prior to the December 2008 commencement of the BLMIS liquidation proceeding and include preferential transfers received by the Sterling Defendants within the 90-day period prior to the filing date.

“The amended complaint sheds more light on the deep dependency of the Sterling business
organization on the continuation of the Madoff fraud and certain knowledge of indicia of fraud by the Sterling partners,” said David J. Sheehan, counsel to the Trustee and a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP, the court-appointed counsel for the Trustee.

“Perhaps the most telling evidence of Sterling’s dependency on Madoff is the fact that postrevelation of Madoff’s fraud, the Sterling partners were forced to negotiate with at least seven lender banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, HSBC, M&T, Wachovia, and Bank of New York (the “Lender Banks”), to restructure more than a half-billion dollars in collective debt – not just the millions of dollars of debt secured by the Leveraged KW BLMIS Accounts,” said Fernando A. Bohorquez, Jr., counsel to the Trustee and a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP.

As described in the amended complaint, in the aftermath of the discovery of the Madoff fraud, with full notice of the potential liability to the Trustee faced by the Sterling Defendants, Sterling and the Lender Banks entered into various restructuring credit facilities containing certain provisions that attempted to circumvent any potential recovery action initiated by the Trustee.

“The restructuring demonstrates both Sterling’s and the Lender Banks’ serious concerns regarding potential recoveries by the Trustee, and supports the Trustee’s contention that the Sterling Defendants were inextricably bound to the Madoff fraud,” said Mr. Bohorquez.

The amended complaint also provides additional substantiation of the inter-dependent relationship between Sterling and BLMIS as well as certain Sterling partners’ knowledge of Madoff’s dishonesty in his investment advisory business. For instance, the amended complaint details a multi-milliondollar interest- and cost-free bridge loan from Madoff to Sterling in connection with its purchase of the broadcast rights for the New York Mets from Cablevision. This transaction was documented by a single letter agreement that falsely described the loan as an “investment” by Ruth Madoff in the company that would later become the SNY network.

The Sterling complaint was initially filed under seal on December 7, 2010 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The original complaint was unsealed on February 4, 2011.

In addition to Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Bohorquez, the Trustee acknowledges the contributions of the Baker & Hostetler attorneys who worked on this filing: Lauren Resnick, Kathryn Zunno, Steven Goldberg, Amanda Fein, Keith Murphy, Marc Skapof, George Klidonas, and Henry Bodenheimer.


—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Alderson responds to Madoff situation

The perception around baseball, fairly or not, is that Fred Wilpon’s involvement with Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has affected the team’s bottom line — and with it, its baseball operations budget. Though admitting he is “not privy” to the crux of that information, general manager Sandy Alderson responded Monday with his take on the situation. The complete transcript, courtesy’s Bailey Stephens:

wilpons.jpgHas the Madoff situation affected your baseball operations?
“First of all, I want to emphasize that the plan that we have pursued the last couple of months was limited by only one fact, and that was the level of the existing payroll. Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between $140 million and $150 million. I think that is significantly higher than we’d like to be on an annual basis — a product of adding some additional players that we felt the roster needed as well as some existing [obligations]. The plan and the approach that I’ve taken over the last two months has been affected at all by any other outside factors.”

Did you know when you interviewed about the Mets’ financial situation?
“From my standpoint, when I took this position, when I interviewed and took this position, I was of course aware of the pre-existing involvement of the Wilpons and the Mets with Bernie Madoff. I wasn’t privy to all of the detail, nor am I or most of us at this point privy to all that detail. And I wouldn’t expect to be.

At the same time, none of that has affected what I have done over the last two months. I don’t expect that it will have any impact on what I do over the next several months, including into the 2012 offseason.”

What are your financial limitations?
“When I came in, I looked at where the payroll had been, what we had committed for 2011, and then took a look at the roster with others involved in management here and determined where we thought we needed to add players, add depth — starting pitching, what have you. And we proceeded accordingly. There hasn’t been any discussion about limitations other than the overall magnitude of the payroll. It’s going to be in the top four, five or six.

None of what I’ve done has been predicated on any issues related to Bernie Madoff or the overall financial strength of the Mets.”

Is there a level of concern about the future?
“No. I mean, obviously there’s a certain level of ambiguity surrounding this news. But from my standpoint, the facts are as they currently exist. And to some extent the decision to find a minority partner or some other source of recapitalizing the franchise is positive news from my standpoint. If there was an initial problem before, that can only be positive from my standpoint.”

Added pressure?
“I don’t really feel added pressure. I do believe that the best tonic for all of this is a winning team. So from that standpoint, it would be really terrific for us to have a good spring and start off the season well and perform beyond the public’s expectations.”

Worried about a negative effect on the clubhouse?
“No. I think that whatever potential distraction it might be we can manage. I think it was important that if a development of this sort were going to arise, that it come now — whatever dark cloud some have described — hopefully will be dissipated at least in part between now and the beginning of spring training and we can focus on baseball.”

How will this affect the Jose Reyes negotiations?
“Again, perhaps naively, I don’t expect that this situation will be a hindrance in that regard. I fully expect that decision will be made as it would have been, in the best interest of the team on the field, and the best interest of the overall sort of financial health as well as baseball future of the Mets — as it would be with any other team. I just again I go back to the notion that if a potential financial issue exists, ownership is proactively addressing it. At this point, I don’t expect that any financial situation will inhibit negotiations with Jose.”

Did you know selling the team was a possibility before you took the job?
“The short answer is, it wasn’t really discussed. I didn’t raise it and again from my standpoint, I’m not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets and a well known backdrop. My enthusiasm and energy for this position and my confidence in the future of the Mets is undiminished.”

Do you have a payroll target?
“At this point, is there a specific number? No. My sense is that, you may know recent Mets history better than I. I don’t know that we’ve gotten this high in the past. One never wants to rest at one extreme or the other. My sense is that our payroll is a little higher than I would have liked it to have been, but we are where we are. We will continue to spend money at very high levels.”

Would your decision to sign on with the Mets have changed if you knew circumstances would change?
“You are right to say that some circumstances have changed … Would it have changed my position? I don’t think so.”

How can you explain the difference in payrolls between the Yankees and Mets?
“The only way that I can explain it is No. 1, we have consist had one of the highest payrolls in baseball. We’ve never before or after my arrival stated that our goal was to achieve payroll parity with the Yankees. We certainly don’t have that goal now. I don’t know that I have to justify the difference … Once our attendance goes back to a more traditional levels, that gives us that much more flexibility.”


—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Reports: The sun will come out, Minaya will remain GM

Mets general manager Omar Minaya received some public support from principal owner Fred Wilpon today. Asked by a New York Port reporter at a function in Connecticut if Minaya would remain GM next season, Wilpon quipped: “Is the sun going to come up tomorrow?”

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for Minaya, whose actual power within the restraints of a reportedly tight budget has come under scrutiny in recent weeks — most notably when the Mets stood pat at last month’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. But it was, if nothing else, an indication that the Mets are not looking to do anything drastic in the coming weeks or months — at least not within the front office.

Minaya is under contract through the 2012 season at more than $1 million per year.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.