SBD/March 21, 2012/Franchises

Mets GM Says Club Will Stick With Budget-Conscious Plans For Restocking Roster

Alderson said Mets are going through process of redirection and reinvigoration
Mets GM Sandy Alderson yesterday indicated that while the "perception of the franchise has perhaps changed," in the wake of Owner Fred Wilpon and President Saul Katz' $162M settlement agreement with Irving Picard, the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims, the team's front office plan to "reload with young, affordable talent remains the same," according to Mike Puma of the N.Y. POST. Alderson said, "We’re going through a process of redirection and sort of reinvigoration. That takes a little bit of time and a little bit of patience. But I do believe having put (litigation) behind us and the likelihood of major investment in the team allows us a greater array of options." He added, "The immediate impact on our payroll is going to be negligible. ... (But) I do think the overall environment will be much more positive and allow us and fans to focus more on the team and less on the other externalities.” Alderson said, "We have to put a better product on the field, and ultimately that means winning. Last year I think we made inroads into the overall perception of the team. ... I think the clouds are parting, but at the same time we have to do a good job on the baseball side" (N.Y. POST, 3/21). Alderson also said, "From just an overall organizational standpoint, the landscape today is a lot brighter than it was two or three days ago, going into a potential three-week trial. Obviously we're very happy for Fred and Saul. And putting something behind us that has been an overhang for the franchise for well over a year -- just about from the time I arrived -- I think is a real plus" (ESPNNY.com, 3/20). Alderson: "The fact is, we’ve lost quite a bit of money over the last couple of years. We have to create a more sustainable operation, and that relates to putting a good product on the field, so that’s what we’re about" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/21).

STICK WITH US
: In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes Wilpon's "pleas to Mets ticket-buyers to 'stick with us' demonstrated a willful blindness to the bond that exists -- or really doesn’t -- between owners and fans." But the "more likely outcome is that suffocating financial realities will continue." Beyond potential payments to Picard, the franchise has a "mountain of debt to deal with in the coming years, hundreds of millions in principal on loans against the team, its cable network SNY, along with Citi Field." Even if Wilpon and Katz "end up paying nothing to Picard under the terms of their settlement, there could be an ethical taint." Wilpon "could spend the next few years climbing trees, saving cats and parking fans’ cars," but they "won’t stick with him if his team can’t play" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa cited a source as saying that Clear Channel Communications Chair of Media & Entertainment Platforms Bob Pittman and Huffington Post co-Founder Kenneth Lerer are among "several investors who combined to purchase one $20 million stake in the Mets." The team "completed the sale of 12 minority stakes" in the franchise for $240M last week. The club publicly acknowledged the deals for the first time Monday, but "declined to identify any outside investors." The only "previously known outside investor" is SAC Capital Advisors Founder Steven Cohen, who also is part of a bid group still in contention to purchase the Dodgers (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/21).
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