Wilpons are ‘exploring’ possibility of strategic partnership

According to the New York Times, a person involved in the Madoff cases said it was possible that lawyers could seek as much as $1 billion from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, since they are considered “net winners” in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

“I think he has a very serious problem,” the source said of Wilpon. “If that’s true, he might have to sell the Mets.”

Of course, as @antiglib pointed out to me on Twitter, “Remember, they can seek out any figure they want.  Could ask for $3 billion. Doesn’t mean Wilpons have it or trustee gets it.”

Original Post at 12:25 pm:

According to Michele Steele from Bloomberg Sports, “The Wilpons say team may add one or more “strategic partners,'” though Sterling will continue to be the primary owner of the team.

Here is the official press release, on Mets.com – READ IT!

The key word here is: ‘Exploring.’ It’s not like they’ve already taken on a partner, but that they’re looking in to what it means and – I assume – how that can keep them supporting the baseball team – given how it needs to be supported in the New York market - while considering the ‘air of uncertainty’ dealing with the Maddoff situation.

To most fans, I don’t think this is terribly surprising, though I don’t know how any of us can truly qualify that opinion. Nevertheless, from a business point of view, as it stands, the Mets are one of the few sports organizations to still have one family own so much of the team. For instance, the Steinbrenners own around 70 % of the Yankees. Meanwhile, the Wilpon family owns like 99 % of the Mets, which, in this day and age of big corporations and media conglomerates, is actually pretty rare. So, the idea of bringing on a strategic partner shouldn’t be that big of a change.

In the end, to me, as a fan, this isn’t that big of a deal, simply because the big problem for the Mets these last few years hasn’t been how much money they’ve spent, it’s been how they’ve spent it. This news today still does nothing to fix that, nor does it make David Wright strike out less, or make Johan Santana come back from injury quicker.  That said, it’s interesting, and something obviously worth keeping an eye on.

Updated at 1:58 pm:

Craig Calcaterra has a thought-provoking post up at NBC’s Hardball Talk, in which he figures, based on what happened with the Texas Rangers, the Wilpons are likely to get an offer they can’t refuse.

Updated at 1:35 pm:

Updated at 1:35 pm:

Mike Francesa said on WFAN that he has made multiple attempts to get Jeff Wilpon on as a guest to talk about this, as soon as the conference call is over, adding:

“The Mets have stated they will NOT sell the team under any circumstances. I have asked, ‘Even if you get blown away with an offer?’ They say they will NOT sell the team. That’s what they’re saying right now. Does that change? I don’t know. If somebody offers them a fortune, who knows. They say the team is not in play, they’re just looking for an infusion of capital and looking for a partner. Why would a minority partner come in under those grounds? Two fold: 1) To get their foot in the door. … the other thing is, maybe if you come in and buy 10, 20 %, you could get a right-of-first-of-refusal so if the team is ever sold it’s yours at the right price. Is that possible? I don’t know.”