The Real Reason Mets Never Made Offer to Jose Reyes

Yesterday The New York Times reported that Bank of America recently loaned the Mets $40M:

The team described the arrangement as a bridge loan, meant to aid the team as it tries to raise money through the sale of minority stakes in the club.

Clearly, Mets ownership continues to suffer serious financial problems, which explains why they didn’t ever make an official offer to Jose Reyes. Of course, you are free to keep telling yourself that Sandy Alderson passed on the star shortstop because it wouldn’t have been a good baseball decision. Whatever floats your boat — but the bottom line is, this Flushing franchise is going down the toilet.

Mets ownership still has faith that they will be able to sell about 20 $10M shares of the team to people who don’t want any decision-making power and aren’t looking to make any money from their investment; in short, the Wilpons and Saul Katz are confident they’ll find people able and willing to throw away ten million dollars for the express purpose of occasionally rubbing elbows with the dwindling number of Major League Baseball stars left on the Mets’ roster. They may be right. However, not one investor has yet been announced, despite assurances from ownership that all 20 shares would be sold by the end of the year.

This recent $40M loan is on top of MLB’s secret $25M loan handed out around this time last year. Additionally, the team lost about $70M in 2011, thanks primarily to declining ticket sales. So, the first $65M collected in anticipated shares will go toward paying off those two loans specifically — though, I think there are other loans hanging over their heads as well (can anyone confirm?). Additionally, there is the Bernie Madoff / Irving Picard suit looming, which many believe will require somewhere in the neighborhood of $200M to settle; we won’t even go into the associated attorney fees.

Maybe it’s time to call back David Einhorn?

By the way, I find it interesting that no bank was willing to extend a loan prior to the 2011 season, and somehow, some way, Bank of America stepped forward to give them $40M after the team lost another $70M. Is it a mere coincidence that Bank of America is a proud sponsor of MLB? Hmm …

Funny that Bud Selig forced the McCourts to sell the Dodgers, even though Frank McCourt — on his own — was able to negotiate a loan from FOX to keep the team solvent, yet Selig is clearly pulling all favors and doing everything possible to help the Wilpons retain ownership of the Mets. At what point does Selig put his treasured friendship with Fred Wilpon aside and do what’s best for the New York fans? Or, has he already taken control of the organization — via last year’s appointment of Sandy Alderson as GM — and going through with a master plan to show the world that small-market tactics can result in success in the biggest market, thereby organically driving down player salaries?

Oh, forget that silly conspiracy theory that just leaked out from my over-active fingers tapping irresponsibly on the keys … focus instead on the chronic debt of the Mets, and how it’s going to affect the team in 2012 and beyond.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. gary s. December 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    On the flip side, i always wanted to grill my own hotdogs and pour my own beer at the ballpark.After they layoff all the help at Paupers Field, we will now have that opportunity.But Alderson said when questioned last week that he Madoff mess will not impact the team.So did Fred and Jeffie when it first went down.I think someone is being dishonest here.Also agree that Aldersom and Selig are running the team.
  2. gary s. December 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    Time to head for the lifeboats Fred, Saul and Jeffie.
  3. joe December 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm
    “you are free to keep telling yourself that Sandy Alderson passed on the star shortstop because it wouldn’t have been a good baseball decision”

    Good baseball decisions include what to do with the funds you have. If you had unlimited funds (or comparably so), some moves are worth it, even if it means overpaying. Other moves aren’t really that smart but the team can do it. Sometimes, moves are influenced by the funds available, including funds not there because of mismanagement of funds.

    But, yes, it’s about money. It usually is — you make the decisions w/i your means. This is what Sandy Alderson is doing. Some will continue to berate him, however, like he owns the team, and is holding back HIS money. And, is upset he isn’t totally honest about what is going on, as if anyone actually does that.

    These people will pretend to be all cynical but deep down they seem to be naive souls whose feelings are hurt.

    • Izzy December 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm
      joe: Sandy Alderson is the FACE of the METS franchise. He was hand picked by the freddy lover Buddy boy Selig to “save” the Wilpons. Why the hell shouldn’t Alderson taske the heat. He gladly took the job of making the Mets a small market team to get out of the purgatory of proving birth dates in Central America, He deserves all the heat he gets. And as for our “naive” thoughts. isn’t really you who are naive as you buy the Wilpon BS lock stocj and barrel. You and the few who love this new Mets era better be buying tix to citi morgue since it is such an awesome front office we have trying to bring buddy the good old of when he owned the brwers and they sucke… jsut like the new mets will until buddy is gone and so are the wilpons. Dodger fans are so damn lucky that Buddy hates their horrid owner. Wonder what fred and saul have on buddy that he doesn’t want leaked.
      • Joe December 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm
        Blame the messenger. Be my guest.

        Also, skip over my repeated comments about “mismanagement” etc. and believe I’m just a kiss ass.

        Just be pissed off. It’s a free country.

  4. gary s. December 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm
    What about the folks who would like to go see a baseball game in a major market and not be subjected to a triple a team at MLB prices?I’m a Met fan my entire life.Unlike Yankee fans i don”t need a world series every year to be happy.But at least show the fanbase you are trying to improve the team.As far as being cynical, we have no players to talk about that are any good and if by some chance we do develop a star, we can look forward to management letting him sign with another team.So, who’s the pretender here?
  5. derek December 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm
    Dear Bud Selig,

    Please make the Wilpons sell…..

    Dear Mark Cuban,

    Please buy us………

  6. Kranepool December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm
    Joe, I think you buried the lede:

    “The implications of the team’s latest outside financing are not easy to forecast. But two people with knowledge of the team’s finances said that if a full lineup of minority stake investors was not in place by next spring, and cash not in hand, Wilpon and Katz might have to confront the prospect of selling the team entirely.”

    The more empty seats, the lower the revenues and the less chance of sufficient minority investors to save the Wilpons from selling the team. Keep hope alive!

    • Joe Janish December 13, 2011 at 7:21 pm
      You’re right! I DID bury the lede! Shame on me, too, since I used to be paid as an editor (hmm, maybe there’s a reason that’s no longer the case).

      But yes, you make an outstanding point. Investors generally don’t put their money into something that looks shaky. I’m keepin’ the faith!

  7. Joe Lefkowski December 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm
    Who cares at this point. Lets move on please.
  8. Dan B December 13, 2011 at 10:43 pm
    How come the Yankees, in the same city as the Mets, overpay for stars and are rewarded with playoff births and are the most profitable team in sports? How come overpaying for stars results in profits for them and it is bad business and bad baseball for us? Talk all you want about how successful Tampa is on a small payroll, but it looks like the Yankees are even more successful baseball wise and financially. Shouldn’t we be aspiring to be them rather than Tampa?
    • Joe Janish December 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm
      You bring up a key point — and the reason why Selig is so eager to make “small market strategy” work in the big market of NYC. Because you’re right: Tampa has been very successful with their strategy of “lose for a decade, stock up on draft picks, pay players next to nothing and then get rid of them before you have to pay them” — ON THE FIELD. Unfortunately, that on-field success has done little to increase the gate receipts and the ballclub’s revenues. So either there’s something wrong with the strategy that turns fans off, or there’s something wrong with having a Major League franchise in Tampa. Selig is banking (pardon the pun) on the latter, surmising that if a team can employ the same strategy in NYC, the fans will come to the park in droves once the team becomes successful again. The wild card, though, is will NYC fans have patience for the 7-10 years of losing that will have to happen while the franchise builds itself up? And/or, will the team be able to pay the high costs of being in NYC while those revenues dwindle during the dark period?
      • Dan B December 14, 2011 at 12:08 am
        Tampa also doesn’t have two professional baseball teams, two pro football teams, two pro basketball, and three pro hockey teams to compete with — let alone Broadway, concert halls, etc… which all compete for the entertainment dollar and Tampa is still not making a big profit. What makes the Mets think they can go small and compete? What NY sports team has ever succeeded that way?
        • Joe Janish December 14, 2011 at 12:42 am
          More good points.

          Heck, even when the Knicks were godawful yet drawing fans, they were spending money.

          As an addendum to your point, the Mets don’t necessarily have to spend like the Yankees to show that they’re trying. But they can’t go the complete opposite way, either.

        • Joe December 14, 2011 at 10:22 am
          “they can’t go the complete opposite way”

          And, getting a closer for two years 12M, a reliever for 3.5M, a “middling” reliever that has enough cred to be seen as a good pick-up, not just having a fire sale to get rid of every useful part they have etc. shows they are not. Small market teams don’t have a Santana out and getting paid 20M or whatever it is. They don’t get to overspend 17M for a Bay.

          But, they didn’t re-sign Reyes. So, you know.

  9. Dan December 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm
    It would seem that Selig will do everything possible to keep the Wilpons in control. Which would be consistent with some old news summarized at
    Key paragraph from that being
    ” Doubleday contends that the appraisal by Starkey, who is under contract to Major League Baseball and has done work for the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers, deflated the Mets’ value with faulty methodology. He has indicated to others that Starkey’s independence was suspect because of his ties to Commissioner Bud Selig, the former owner of the Brewers. It was Selig who recommended Starkey for the job.”
  10. JoeBourgeois December 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm
  11. mic December 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm
    So where did Sandy come from? Oh the commissioners office, about the same time as the MLB loan?

    friends? Or is selig doing damage control until the Madooff/Wilpon ownership issue is resolved?