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Frozen Ropes

Dave MillsTuesday, May 31, 2011
By Dave Mills

Einhorn or Einstein?
It can often be wise to hold off on commenting about certain current events until additional facts are revealed. Nothing can be truer in terms of David Einhorn's investment in the Mets.

If the information unearthed by ESPN-NY's Adam Rubin is accurate (and there is no reason to believe it is not), this particular investment is quite fascinating and should easily inure to the benefit of Mr. Einhorn.

For $200 million, Einhorn will be in receipt of 25-33% of the Mets. SNY is not part of the deal. In three years, Wilpon/Katz can choose for him to remain a minority partner, with 25-33% of the team, and repay the $200 million. If they cannot pay him back, Einhorn can choose to buy 60% interest in the Mets. In today's dollars, with the team worth roughly $787 million, 60% would cost him an additional $272 million. In other words, Einhorn is making an interest-free loan to Sterling and/or Wilpon/Katz that guarantees either full repayment of the loan in return for 25-33% ownership, or majority ownership (60%) to the tune of a total investment of $472 million. What a deal for Einhorn!

Once again, Einhorn has brilliantly bet on a loser to lose and put himself in a win/win. Not so far afield from his well-known 2007 shorting (and calling out) of Lehman Brothers and their house of cards that, low and behold, involved a veritable host of ties to Bernie Madoff.

What will it mean for the Mets in the immediate future? Not much, but it will help Wilpon/Katz get through a rough period without paralyzing the team. Conceivably, the Mets can now make a respectable offer to Jose Reyes, especially in light of Beltran, Castillo, Perez and perhaps K-Rod all coming off the books. In the long run, Fred and Saul will go quietly into the night even if they prevail against the questionable Picard clawback.

Was Fred Just Running Off at the Mouth, or Was It a Strategy?
It seems awfully strange that an owner like Fred Wilpon, who has always gone out of his way to avoid media controversy, suddenly drops a few bombs via the non-threatening approach of a fine journalist like Jeffrey Toobin. Perhaps there was method to the apparent madness?

Suddenly, Fred has created a market for David Wright and don't think teams won't be inquiring. Wright is signed through the 2012 season with a team option for 2013 at about $15 million. The Mets have the very real alternative of playing the far less expensive Daniel Murphy in his natural position. They also have several prospects from 2-4 years away. Murphy has shown a strong arm and quick reactions as a defender and, while not likely to be as good as Wright, it may well be his best position. No doubt, if he were to bat third in the Mets lineup, he would strike out about half as much as Wright, likely have a higher batting average, steal a few bases and hit 20 HRs rather than 30. It is not far-fetched to say he would have more total bases, more runs scored and a better OBP. Even a platoon of Murphy and Nick Evans would likely produce some pretty decent offensive numbers, albeit with less defense than David.

In terms of Jose Reyes, Fred put just enough out there to make other teams wonder about Jose's health and be wary of what Jose is looking for (even though Jose's people haven't put anything out there). There is now the perception, from Mets ownership, that he wants $142 million for eight years, just like Carl Crawford. He already knows Jose would prefer to stay with the Mets. Now, Fred has led others to believe the Reyes camp has asked for $17+ million annually. If the Reyes people were never near Crawford money and are willing to apply the home-grown discount, there could be a meeting of the minds. Frankly, if the Mets don't get a good offer before the deadline, they will get TWO draft choices if he signs elsewhere and clear more salary space. Tejada can cover the defense, but not the offensive deficit.

Carlos Beltran is a goner before July 31, so nothing Fred said will affect a deal for him. The more he produces, the better the Mets will do. If he gets injured, they will get nothing. By the way, NO draft choice if he walks.

K-Rod to the Rescue
With K-Rod offering to rescind his vesting option to facilitate a trade, while at the same time saying he would really like to remain a Met, there may be an opening to either welcome a host of prospects or keep an effective closer at a discount of some kind. Certainly, his comments put the Mets in a better position on both counts. Would another three years starting in 2012 be worth another $37 million (or less)?

The Beato Goes On, but should it have?
Is it a legitimate to ask why Pedro Beato was not sent to rehab by appearing in some minor league games for a limited time before returning to the Mets? Were Alderson and Company prohibited from doing this due to his Rule-5 status, even when returning from the DL?

Gee, Quite Impressive
Is Dillon Gee the real thing? It seems so. Every time out, he keeps the Mets in the game and seems to know how to get the upper hand on hitters. Good control, the ability to adjust to the hitters, a nice assortment of pitches combined with brains and gumption. That's a recipe for success. And these days, starting pitching success is measured by keeping your team in the game for 6-7 innings.

Tantalizing Turner
This is as good a debut as a Met rookie as I can remember going way back to Mike Vail. He has looked good at 2B and 3B, and, as a hitter, uses the entire field, which makes him tough to pitch to and defend against. If he continues to do it all, Turner will be a manager's delight and fan favorite for a good long time. His biggest supporter, Mets bench coach Ken Oberkfell, is not surprised.

F-Mart Shall Return
No doubt, Beltran will be gone before July 31 and will be replaced by the 22-year-old Fernando Martinez, who showed a little stick during his brief stay. His success will depend on how he is used by Collins (occasionally being spelled against tough southpaws) and if he is protected in the order (by Davis, Wright and a productive Bay).

Keeping the Mets Afloat - Reyes, Beltran, Turner, K-Rod, Isringhausen, Gee, Collins
Intriguing (but need to see more) - Beato, Niese, Capuano, Buchholz, O'Conner, Byrdak, Paulino, Murphy, F-Mart, Pridie, Tejada, Evans
Disappointing - Harris, Pagan, Parnell, Pelfrey
Extremely disappointing - Bay, Thole, Hairston, Misch, Carrasco
Infirmary - Davis (looked great), Wright (disappointing), Dickey (just getting his bearings), Young (great each time out), Santana, Meija

Sad News
We send our thoughts and best wishes to Gary Carter and his family and to the family of Hofstra professor and Mets chronicler Dana Brand. These two "young" men have done much to enhance the image of the Mets and have delivered many great moments to Mets fans through deeds and words.

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

Comments (3)

I have to admit that I'm surprised Gee is still pitching as well as he has. His numbers in AAA in 2009 and 2010 just didn't indicate he would be this effective. I know he had some injury issues that held him back some. I still wonder if the league won't eventually catch up with him, but you have to love what you've seen so far.

Where was Gee in the evaluation of the Mets' farm system? (A serious question, I have no idea). But the success of some of the players coming up last year and this year make me wonder about the effectiveness of the entire farm system evaluation, as the Mets' system continues to be rated at the bottom of the heap and we continue to bring up players whose performance is respectable in the majors.

I am a big David Wright fan and if he is traded i would not be surprised.However thinking he can be replaced by Murphy and Evans is a huge reach imho.Murphy needs to be traded to the AL where he would be perfect as a dh.And Evans is a Four A player.No matter where Murphy plays he costs you games with the glove.He would be a terrific fit with the Yankees as a DH.He could pop 25 homers a year with the short porch in right field.Just please get him off the mets

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