S&P: Outlook on Citi Field debt lowered to BB+

According to Martin Zaun of Bloomberg Business Week, Standard and Poor’s has cut it’s outlook on the $695.4 million debt on Citi Field to BB+, a negative grade which is one level below “investment grade.”

According to Zaun, S&P says Citi Field revenue fell 11 percent in 2011 from 2010, and regarding their outlook, S&P said:

“We believe the project faces cash-flow volatility as a large portion of pledged revenues are game-day revenues with less than one-half of the revenues under short- to medium-term contracts. … The key issue looking forward is that any unfavorable change in team financial operations may hurt team performance and reduce turnstile volumes and revenue.”

In a column for FoxSports.com last week, Bob Klapisch says the Wilpons owe $430 million in principal of a loan against the Mets, due in 2014; they owe $450 million in principal of a loan against SNY, due in 2015; and they owe an estimated $600 million, due in $25 million increments every six months, on the ballpark; all of which comes before any money due as a result of the Madoff lawsuit.

Hot Stove: Sox acquire Bailey, Jays discussing Garza

Here is the latest hot stove buzz circulating around MLB:

Sickels: Harvey, Wheeler & Famila lead Mets Top 20

In a post to his blog Minor League Ball, prospect guru John Sickels lists his Top 10 Mets prospects (and grades) as:

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  1. 1. Matt Harvey, RHP, Grade B+
  2. 2. Zack Wheeler, RHP, Grade B+
  3. 3. Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade B
  4. 4. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B
  5. 5. Cesar Puello, OF, Grade B-
  6. 6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Grade B-
  7. 7. Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade B-
  8. 8. Reese Havens, 2B, Grade B-
  9. 9. Wilmer Flores, 3B-SS, Grade B-
  10. 10. Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+

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According to Sickels, “The Mets farm system has improved and I don’t think it gets enough respect. He says he likes the team’s young pitching, saying, “Harvey, Wheeler, and Familia are three hard-throwing right-handers with the ability to be staff anchors.”

Sickels expects it will be difficult for the Mets to keep from rushing Harvey and Familia to the majors during 2012, “but both will be better-positioned to help in 2013.” He sees Harvey and Wheeler as eventual No. 2 starters and pitchers the Mets can build around, while Familia could be a No. 3 starter or a closer (depending on how he develops his change-up).

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Matthew Cerrone: This is good news. I love the resurgence of young pitching in the organization, especially when you look at what successful teams have been doing over the last decade. He’s right, there will be pressure from fans and media to move Harvey to the Mets this year. He’ll make some noise in Spring Training, but he should return to Double-A to start 2012. In June, after he’s made 10 starts or so, I bet we might start hearing rumblings that he could finally be ready to pitch in the big leagues, which means his name will undoubtedly pop up in trade talks. But, I don’t think he’s going any place…

Sickels had Harvey in his top 3 last year, while Familia was in the mid teens. Wheeler was with the Giants. So, this year is an improvement. Jenrry Mejia will hopefully be back on the mound at the end of this season, as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery. And so, I’d say by the end of this summer we all will have a real good idea of where this young crop of pitchers will be, all while guys like Cory Mazzoni, Michael Fulmer, and Logan Verrett complete their first full year of professional baseball.

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To see John’s list of the top 20 prospect and full commentary for each player, read his entire post for Minor League Ball here.

Omar Vizquel will not join the Mets

In a post to Twitter, SS Omar Vizquel said, if offered a contract, he would not be interested in joining the Mets next season.

Vizquel, who will be 45 in April, hit .251 with eight RBI in 58 games for the White Sox last season. In 23 big league seasons, Vizquel is a .272 career hitter with 2841 hits and 402 stolen bases and an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop.

Michael Baron: Vizquel is one of the best shortstops I’ve ever seen. However, at this point in his career, even as a mentor to the middle infielders, he is less valuable than everyone else on the current roster.

The problem with aging veterans to this degree is there can be zero expectations placed with them. The Mets cannot sign someone like Vizquel to a major league deal, and even if he somehow made the team out of camp, he could never be depended upon for any sort of consistent on-field contribution. Right now, the more dependable a player is for the Mets on the diamond, the more valuable he is to them right now.

Hot Stove Recap: Fielder won't sign a short-term deal

Here is the latest hot stove buzz circulating around MLB over the last day or so:

Koufax, Mays and Seaver added to BAT's Mets dinner

Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver have joined the list of the more than 100 current and former Major Leaguers who are scheduled to attend the 23rd annual B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner, which will celebrrate the 50th anniversary of the Mets.

The annual fundraising dinner will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.

Choo Choo Coleman, David Cone, John Franco, Dwight Gooden, Bud Harrelson, Keith Hernandez, Jerry Koosman, Ed Kranepool, Ron Darling, Al Leiter, Darryl Strawberry, Rusty Staub and many others will be in attendance.

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Matthew Cerrone: It’s a pretty impressive program. However, in learning more about it, the thing I found most interesting is that B.A.T. is also in the business of helping ushers, people who work concessions, etc., as well as other departments in an organization, up and down the franchise from the big leaguers to the minors. I wrongly assumed they were only about helping former players, like Barry Lyons (who appealed to B.A.T., and was helped out after Hurricane Katrina). But, it’s also for other people in the ‘baseball family,’ who help make the game just as possible as the players on the field. I’m trying to find a way to attend this, as it looks like it should be a fun time.

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For more info about B.A.T., or to purchase tickets to the dinner, click here.