New York Mets: Thursday was a weird day as the Wilpons bash Van Wagenen for hot mic mishap

Thursday was a weird day for the New York Mets. Yes, the on-field demonstration by the Mets and Marlins players was powerful: they stood up for 42 seconds and then departed the field just before their scheduled game, only to leave a Black Lives Matter shirt on the diamond. But a few things happened that will sure create some tension in the organization.

It all started with a misunderstanding early in the day. General manager Brodie van Wagenen was the victim of a hot mic moment, as he was captured on video (livestreamed to Mets.com) criticizing Commissioner Rob Manfred’s leadership after he thought the idea that was being discussed, which was leave the field at 7:10 pm to return to play an hour later, would go against the players’ desire not to play.

“That leadership level, he doesn’t get it,” Van Wagenen said on the leaked video while talking with two people. “He just doesn’t get it.”

“Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution, saying, ‘Oh, you know what would be super powerful — the three of us here, [this information] can’t leave this room — you know it’d be really great if you just have them all take the field and then they leave the field and then they come back and play at 8:10,” Van Wagenen said on the video. “And I was like, ‘What?’ ”

But a few hours after the incident, he said he misunderstood the whole deal and that the idea of returning to play one hour after the initially scheduled time belonged to New York Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon, who didn’t know at that moment that the players agreed not to play at all on Thursday night.

The Mets’ GM apologized to Manfred for involving him, erroneously, in the situation.

“My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgement in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon,” Van Wagenen said. “… I didn’t have the tone or the context to it. … It wasn’t Rob and his leadership that was requiring or suggesting or mandating anything by the stretch of the imagination. … I recognize that it was a disrespectful move to his office and to him.”

The Mets’ owners heavily criticize their GM

CEO Fred Wilpon bashed Van Wagenen for his comments. “I am very stressed and disappointed to learn tonight that our General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, made disrespectful and inaccurate comments about our Commissioner, a long-time close friend of mine. I hold Rob in the highest regard and in no way are Brod[ie]’s remarks reflective of my views or the organization’s,” he said in a statement. “Rob continues to be a great leader of Major League Baseball. I apologize for any harm this incident has caused Rob.”

Separately, Jeff Wilpon also released a statement, again aimed at the Mets’ GM. “To clear up any misunderstandings, it was my suggestion to potentially look into playing the game later because of scheduling issues,” he said. “Brod[ie]’s misunderstanding of a private conversation was and is inexcusable.”

It raised some eyebrows that Jeff Wilpon spelled Van Wagenen’s first name as “Brody.”

In the end, Van Wagenen owned up to his mistake. According to the New York Post, he said:

“I hold myself personally responsible for this. Hot mic or not hot mic, I made comments that damaged the reputation of the commissioner, that hurt the New York Mets organization. But my apology goes beyond just to the people I may have damaged, but more that my name and my face and this zoom conference is part of the conversation today,” Van Wagenen said. “This conversation is about the players making a statement. This conversation is about recognizing the pain and the anguish that black people are experiencing every day in this country. the fact that I’ve put myself and this organization in the conversation in a way that takes away from the real point, I’m disappointed in myself … and I accept responsibility for that.”

Overall, a day to forget for the Mets.

New York Mets: Things Heat Up With Potential Sellers

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

As the 2020 season seems to die in front of our eyes slowly, the potential sale of the New York Mets is heating up. Former buyers and new clients are lining up to purchase one of MLB’s most valuable franchises.

The Steve Cohen saga to purchase the Mets has no end in sight. He originally backed out from the 2.6 billion dollar deal, which included the Wilpons partial ownership for the following five seasons. Cohen said the Wilpons were negotiating in “bad faith” but does not rule out entering another bid. He is waiting on the season’s resumption and will also ask for more control of SNY with his future offer.

J-Rod Ownership?

The group led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are active in their pursuit of the Mets. They connected with an unnamed backer who could bring up to $250,000 to add to the group’s funds. Rumors say two investors through Galatiota Sports Partners will bring in a combined 250 million dollars.

Galatiota helped Josh Harris acquire the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011. Harris is also interested in purchasing the Mets. Based on his work with the 76ers and New Jersey Devils, he would be a terrific replacement to the Wilpons.

Wilpons Scramble

The longer baseball goes without a season, the lower the value of franchises become. The Wilpons, known for the lack of funds to run a franchise, hope to extend a 250 million dollar loan, which expires after July. They hope the loan extension is for a year, which gives time for all of the turmoil in baseball and the world to settle. They want to avoid an auction, which would make it easy for the Harris/Blitzer group to swoop in and buy.

If the Mets are not sold by 2021, they will partake in their version of Moneyball. Any high priced talent will either get kicked to the curb or never receive an offer. For most owners of a sports franchise, it becomes a business-first mentality, but it seems the Wilpon’s have forgotten about the sports side of it and just want to break even when they through with the franchise.

Can This Former Yankee and His Fiancé Still Buy A Team?

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez

It would have been a weird look for Bronx natives, for Yankee Alex Rodriguez withdrew his bid with fiance, Jennifer Lopez, to buy the New York Mets. Before going more in-depth about the collapsed bid, and looking to the duo’s next move, a former Yankee, and “Jenny from the block” setting up shop with the team from Queens? While I’m not a fan of A-Rod’s, that would have been just too weird of a move for baseball.

Okay, back on track.

Why the Bid Fell Apart

A-Rod and J-Lo were teaming up with a Long Island billionaire named Wayne Rothbaum. It was more out of convenience that the three agreed to enter this partnership then they all got along. From Thornton McEnery of the NY Post, “He was not their first choice, but he was the first to agree to the next steps.” Rothbaum also wanted more control in his stake of the bid than the happy couple wanted to surrender.

The J-Rod/Rothbaum group was looking to also purchase SNY as well as the Mets from the Wilpon’s. The Wilpon’s have no intention of selling SNY with the Mets. What made the Cohen bid this fall go as far as it did last winter was Cohen left SNY off the block with his $2.6 billion bid. The Wilpon’s were steadfast in that being the new benchmark for a bid should they sell.

But with teams around the country set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to the pandemic this season, will the Wilpon’s agree to a deal that’s less than $2 billion, or even go low enough to sell the team for less than $1 billion? Governor Cuomo was quick to reference the Wilpon’s voicing their concern over how much money they’d be losing on top of paying players’ salaries.

Will They Try Again?

If the deal with the Mets materialized, J-Rod would be minority owners in the club, but would undoubtedly serve as the face of the club, much in the way the Jeter is the face of the Marlins. The two have a combined net worth of $700 million, meaning Rothbaum was going to be the principle owner on paper. As their wedding has been indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic, it feels safe to say one will. With A-Rod’s interest in business investment in his post-playing career, coupled with his long-standing desire to be a front office executive/owner for a professional team, it seems like a foregone conclusion that there will be another attempt by Alex to buy a baseball team. Whether Jennifer decides to join him remains to be seen, but if her philanthropic endeavors during the pandemic don’t satisfy her, yea… I think she’ll sign up again.

New York Mets: The Variables of the Pending Season

After MLB owners approved the plan to continue the baseball season, the war between the league and the players union is ready for its first battle. Out of all teams, the New York Mets find themselves in a unique situation compared to the rest of the league.

Outside of health concerns, the battle of salary negotiation is going to be the biggest fight in the process. Union chief Tony Clark and legendary agent Scott Boras both agree that being paid a pro-rata salary would be the agreement whenever games resume. The sacrifice stands at 30-40% of wages, which the owners claimed as feasible, according to the owners.

According to Boras, his clients are not willing to budge from the agreement. If salaries receive a blindsided cut, it will extend the baseball drought longer. Should the union have a legitimate legal case, the damage could wipe out the rest of the season. But Clark is just as poor as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. This situation serves as a prologue to how next year’s discussions on a new collective bargain agreement will play out.

The Mets Effect

The only Boras represented Met is Michael Conforto, and luckily 30-40% of his $8 million salary is $2.4 million through $3.2 million. That number is no worry for the organization, especially with the rest of their high priced talent.

The conflict comes from Wilpon ownership and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. First, the Wilpon’s have continuously lost money from the Mets franchise over the last few years. The revenue from SNY, which the Wilpons also own, covers the losses from the organization.

Due to the revenue from SNY, the Wilpons call it untouchable in any team sale discussions. Since revenue should grow from SNY, since fans will not attend games, they might squeak by and suffer minimal damage to their finances due to the lack of fan revenue. But you can never be sure with the Wilpons.

Agent to GM

Van Wagenen plays a role more connected to the players. Not too long ago, he was the co-head for CAA Sports Baseball Division, which happens to represent the most players (6) on the current 40-man roster. Should the Mets look to cut more money from the players, Van Wagenen would have to side with ownership since they write his paychecks.

Four of those players make less than three million, including Brandon Nimmo and Robert Gsellman. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the two high priced/talented members of CAA. Van Wagenen also negotiated the current contracts Yoenis Cespedes, and Robinson Cano collect. Cespedes already lost money in the offseason due to an injury on his ranch.

Van Wagenen does not make any final decisions, but he knows both sides of the fence. His voice will be heavily relied upon to fix and issues between players and ownership without it creating a media storm. Not to mention, he has to figure out the best pieces for a potential 82-game season at the same time.

Van Wagenen is a master agent and earned the GM job because he knows how to handle strenuous situations. He will be able to take any negative that comes out of the meetings and make it a positive. Few GMs in baseball have that ability.

New York Mets: Wilpons Won’t Sell SNY With the Team

As baseball continues to take a seat with the Coronavirus pandemic running rampant in the U.S., the Wilpons are still searching for the right buyer for the New York Mets. One guarantee of the future sale is that SNY will continue to belong to the Wilpons no matter what.

SNY has been the Mets network where a majority of the games air since 2006. The unwillingness to part ways with the network cause a conflict with Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez’s bid to acquire the franchise. SNY makes money while the Mets are losing up to $90 million per season. The Mets games are going to be on SNY for at least ten more years, which is a guaranteed profit for whoever owns the team.

One Controversial Group Against Another

The Wilpons 65 percent ownership of SNY is what levels off the high loss from owning the Mets. Steve Cohen was the only one willing to strike a deal without SNY. While the Mets have been struggling to make money without baseball games, the Wilpons have made a move to ask their minority owners to make commitments to the team.

A-Rod has found biotech investor Wayne Rothbaum to partner in the sale. Rothbaum brings in the money the A-Rod group needed, which makes the push to buy legitimate. He was part of a group with Jeb Bush that pursued the sale of the Marlins in 2017.

Rodriguez Takes a Backseat

What comes with Rothbaum joining the team is that MLB will want to see him in charge instead of Rodriguez. The same way Magic Johnson takes a limited role with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A-Rod has never been the type to avoid the spotlight either as the villain during his playing day to the hero he tries to play now.

Without any sports right now, the potential Mets sale at least gives fans something to be hopeful for in 2020.

Report: Mets Worth a Billion Dollars Less Than Previous Sale Price

Earlier this year, New York Met fans were jilted at the altar when billionaire hedge fund tycoon Steven A. Cohen pulled out of an agreement to buy 80 percent of the team. Cohen was apparently not please with the current owners – Fred Wilpon, his son Jeff and brother-in-law Saul Katz – insisted on taking Cohen’s cash but not relinquishing control of the team for five years.

Can’t blame Cohen for that. There wasn’t much in for him. The team was valued at $2.6 billion and Cohen had agreed to those terms. Now, with Major League Baseball looking at a season in which they are going to take it on chin financially, the team is said to be worth considerably less.

I’m not sure where Rovell got this valuation. I trust him as a reporter but he does not cite the source here. In Forbes’ latest list of MLB team valuations, the Mets are the sixth-most valuable franchise at $2.4 billion.

As for the sale of the Mets, Alex Rodriguez and his fiancee, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez are reportedly mounting an offer to buy the club. They have retained JP Morgan Chase to help raise capital to finance the deal.

If Rovell is correct in his assessment, ARod and Lopez could steal the Mets. The decrease in value could also bring back isome big money players such as Cohen to the table. Then again, the Wilpons are not likely to let the Mets go at $1.6 billion. They will hold out for their price. Sorry, Met fans.

 

New York Mets Still Want to Sell Team… But Who Will Buy?

New York Mets, Robinson Cano

I reported earlier in the week, when talks of salvaging the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen were at its highest, that the deal was dead. It was confirmed in the past 24 hours that, yes, the sale to minority owner, Steve Cohen, was no more. The Wilpon’s are still set on trying to sell the team. But based on what’s coming out about the deal, who will honestly bite?

Ceremonial Roles Aren’t So Ceremonial

The two Wilpon’s, after surrendering majority control to Cohen in 2025, would still keep the roles they currently have with the team (Fred as managing general partner, and Jeff the COO). Everyone, including Cohen, thought that the Wilpon’s would serve as the Royal Family to the Mets. You know how Queen Elizabeth is queen, but the monarchy hasn’t had legitimate legislative power in real long time? Every New York Mets fan assumed that would be the case here, and were fine with that. But the language the Wilpon’s worked in, late in finalizing the deal, stated clearly that Cohen would still be ceding the authority to make decisions as to the managing general partner, and as the COO to both Wilpon’s till at least 2030.

So why would anyone want to buy a team, to only have the owners stick around making key baseball decisions till 2030, and not surrendering control of the team till 2025?

Could you imagine if CBS still were making decisions with George Steinbrenner as the owner of the Yankees for 10 years after George became the owner? That’s basically what the Wilpon’s are trying to do. If you’re going to sell the team, SELL THE TEAM! Cut ties, rip the band-aid off, end all communications with the people who took over your job.

The desire for the Wilpon’s to establish this precedent will surely dampen any prospective buyers from taking ownership of the Mets. And at an asking price of $2.5 billion (half the value of the Yankees, but more than double the cost Derek Jeter bought the Marlins for), it seems unrealistic that the Wilpon’s will find a buyer, willing to settle for their terms much before the end of the 2020 season.

Wilpons end talks with Cohen but still intend to sell the New York Mets

New York Mets

According to the New York Mets‘ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo, the team will not be selling a majority stake to Steve Cohen. The Queens’ squad confirmed the news. The hedge fund manager was looking to acquire his favorite ballclub since December, but talks recently hit a snag and they ultimately decided not to continue with the negotiations.

The Mets explained that they still intend to sell the team, just not to Cohen and his group. In fact, they announced the hiring of a local investment bank to assist with the process. As it turns out, the New York Mets will be exchanging hands relatively soon.

Earlier in the week, reports started to come up about the snag in the negotiation process, ongoing since late last year. The parent firm of the Wilpon, Sterling Equities, confirmed that much.

“The transaction between Sterling and Steve Cohen was a highly complicated one,” the statement said. “Despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months, it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been too difficult to execute.”

The terms of the Mets’ sale that fell apart

What we knew before the negotiations fell apart was that the proposed deal included a transition period of five years. Over that timeframe, Fred and Jeff Wilpon would still manage the Mets’ operations and decisions. That setting, according to DiComo, “became a point of contention between the Wilpons and Cohen during negotiations.”

In Thursday’s early hours, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called “the assertion that the transaction fell apart because of something the Wilpons did … completely and utterly unfair.” He also said that at the time, he didn’t think a deal would happen. Time proved him right.

The Wilpons hired the services of Allen & Company, a local investment bank. The idea is for the firm to help them manage the sale of the Mets to another group. The Wilpons and Saul Katz (the team’s president) have been the majority owners since 2002, with Jeff Wilpon as the COO since that year.

Mets’ Sale to Billionaire Steven A. Cohen on “Life Support”

New York Mets fans who thought they were finally rid of the Wilpons as owners could have their balloons busted as the proposed sale to hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen has hit a snag.

The deal, which is designed to have the current ownership group led by Fred Wilpon, his son, Jeff and brother-in-law Saul Katz relinquish control of the team over several years to Cohen in exchange for $2.6 billion.

That deal is now said to be on ‘life support’ according to sources.

From the New York Post:

Sources close to the situation are confirming that the billionaire hedge fund manager is ending negotiations with the Wilpons on his purchase of an 80 percent stake in the franchise. According to those sources, Cohen is deeply unhappy with the Wilpons changing the terms of the deal at a very late stage and has decided to walk away.

 

When rumors broke that the Cohen deal was dead on Tuesday, the Mets offered a strangely worded non-denial.

 

“The parties are subject to confidentiality obligations, including a mutual non-disclosure agreement, and therefore cannot comment,” a statement read.

 

Sources close to Cohen tell The Post that the 63-year-old, $13 billion man is taking the NDA more seriously than the Wilpons and is holding his tongue for the time being.

The deal was a strange one to begin with and many had doubts why the sale could not happen sooner. Cohen appears to have gotten cold feet over the Wilpons nonsense of dragging things out. One reason why they wanted to keep control of the team for a few additional seasons is because the Mets are expecting to contend in the National League and they don’t want to miss it.

Cohen didn’t become a billionaire however by getting dicked around. He appears to be walking away rather than being cuckolded by the current ownership group.

Good for him. Bad for the Met fans.

New York Mets: What We Learned From the Hiring of Luis Rojas

The Houston Astros cheating scandal put an unneeded variable in the future of former New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran. It brought questions on his credibility, and he eventually lost his job. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen had to act quick and smart with two different owners overlooking every move.

The Wilpons are gradually taking a backseat to the day to day moves as Steve Cohen begins to assume majority ownership of the organization. While the transition is occurring, there is increasing uneasiness among the executives who worked under the Wilpon regime. Every executive is under the microscope as Cohen tries to revamp the future of the Mets.

Brodie on the Hot Seat?

Van Wagenen had a tough choice to make when selecting Luis Rojas. The decision was more than simply hiring someone to replace Beltran. If Van Wagenen hired someone they initially refused to interview, such as Dusty Baker or Buck Showalter, it would be a bad look on him. It shows Van Wagenen’s role as a puppet for the Wilpon’s instead of someone thinking on his own.

Cohen will not be the control freak the Wilpon’s have been since they assumed majority ownership. Van Wagenen is trying to stay above water with Cohen. New owners usually bring in their crew of guys and quickly moves on from the old regime. Van Wagenen has made plenty of bold moves during his two offseasons as GM. The leash is very short, and the only person who can extend it is Van Wagenen himself.

The hiring of Rojas is a good move bottom line. Van Wagenen had to stay inside of the organization with Spring Training quickly approaching. Rojas prior managing experience in the minors put him in line to become a future big-league manager. Almost every player on the roster has high praise for Rojas, and he has a good relationship with the young players he worked with in the minors.

Urgency to Win

The “win now” motto of Van Wagenen has never carried the significance it has now. His future with the Mets is on the shoulders of Rojas. No matter the outcome this season, he will have a job in 2021. Cohen is going to provide Van Wagenen with the freedom he did not have under the Wilpon’s.

Despite having freedom, the offseason is all but over. The only thing left as an evaluator of Van Wagenen will be the success the Mets have in 2020. If the season starts the same way 2019 did, it is hard to see Van Wagenen making it to the All-Star break.