(Long Island, N.Y.) When it came time to pull the trigger, Fred Wilpon just couldn’t do it. The New York Mets owner believed that he had found the right business partner in David Einhorn and a long and exhaustive search seemed to have resulted in some financial relief for a team desperately in need.
The young and enthusiastic hedge fund manager had a clean closet and was being looked at as the white knight swooping in and saving the Wilpons after a disastrous business relationship with the jailed Bernie Madoff. Mets fans had to feel a sense of relief that a new influx of capital was on its way to restock a roster greatly affected by the financial instability of the Wilpons, especially with the $1 billion impending lawsuit from Irving Picard regarding the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Einhorn, 42, was ready, willing and able to plunk down $200 million for a minority stake in the team but he did have visions of eventually being the majority owner down the road. That is where Wilpon had a problem. He still wants to be the boss.
But ownership wants to keep the fans aware that all is not lost without Einhorn’s immediate cash. “We are very confident in the team’s plans – both on and off the field,” Wilpon said in a statement released by the team. “We will engage with other individuals, some who have previously vetted by Major League Baseball, along with other interested parties, regarding a potential minority investment into the franchise. My partners and I would like to thank David for his interest in considering this opportunity and we wish him well in the future.”
Now Wilpon’s plan is to chop up that $200 million into 10 pieces and offer some friends a sliver of the Mets. They will not have any say in anything the team does and with the Mets continuing to lose money every year, it’s fool’s gold to buy in now.
Even if you have money to burn, what exactly does a $20 million share of the Mets get someone in this day and age? A luxury box at Citi Field and a chance to meet the players. Nice stuff to brag about and show off to your stuffed shirt crew and all, but not exactly living the dream.
The Mets already plan to lower their annual payroll $20 million from its current number of $120 million. That would leave three players who have done basically nothing this summer eating more than half of that amount. Left-handed starter Johan Santana has been on the shelf following offseason shoulder surgery, leftfielder Jason Bay has been a complete bust since signing a big free agent contract in 2010, and third baseman David Wright has also been bit by the injury bug.
The biggest question heading into the winter is whether the Mets can bring back Jose Reyes or not. They obviously would like to keep the All-Star shortstop around and build the team around him, but Reyes will command a lot of money on the open market. He also has had trouble staying healthy and that must be taken into consideration when offering him a deal.
Even at a discount, Reyes may be way too expensive for the Mets without Einhorn’s checkbook part of the mix.