Players blase about Einhorn buying share
CHICAGO -- When the Mets announced Thursday morning that hedge-fund manager David Einhorn is the preferred candidate to buy a minority share in the team, the visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley Field was not exactly buzzing.
In fact, it was empty.
Despite the potential game-changing effects of the sale, which would be worth $200 million to cash-strapped principal owner Fred Wilpon, it was business as usual for the Mets in the hours leading up to Thursday's game against the Cubs.
When the team bus showed up shortly before 11:30 a.m. CDT, the players were more worried about how they would keep warm later in the raw conditions. There was one other concern, however.
"Guys are getting paid, right?" Mike Pelfrey asked.
Yes, Pelfrey was assured that even if the Mets were to have trouble making payroll -- the pitcher has heard horror stories about the Dodgers -- Major League Baseball would cover the difference.
When told that Einhorn is a card player, like a handful of the Mets, Pelfrey joked that he'll reserve a spot for him in their games. "He can come to the back of the plane," Pelfrey said. "Tell him to bring his wallet."
Other than the assumption that he's rich, the Mets really didn't know anything about Einhorn, or what his minority stake in the team will mean. The focus is narrower at the clubhouse level, where most of the number-crunching has to do with scouting reports and matchups for that day's game.
"It has nothing to do with me right now," manager Terry Collins said. "I didn't know any timelines. I didn't know any of the people, and still don't. But I think as an organization, if it's something that Fred's happy with, it's a good move."
By now, the Mets are all too familiar with the team's cash-flow problems. It's a subject they've been asked about since they showed up in Port St. Lucie for spring training more than three months ago. Doesn't mean they've been losing sleep over it, though.
Even Chris Capuano, who earned a degree in economics from Duke, had little more than a passing interest.
"I've got to worry about getting the Phillies out on Friday," Capuano said. "Honestly, we don't think about that stuff."
Sandy Alderson talked at length Wednesday about many of the Mets' money-related issues, from potential salary-dumping trades to what the payroll might look like for the 2012 season. But the general manager sent word through a team spokesman that he "had nothing to add" to Thursday's announcement that Einhorn is in exclusive negotiations with the Mets.
It's not as if Einhorn's $200 million would go directly to Alderson's fund for re-signing Jose Reyes or add more salary at the trade deadline. As Wilpon outlined this week to Sports Illustrated, that cash infusion already has been earmarked to settle some of the team's mountain of debt.
More than anything, the Mets' attention Thursday morning was glued to the clubhouse TVs, which were showing "The Top 50 Most Infamous Arguments" on MLB Network.
The highlight was Bobby Bonilla's loud confrontation with a Mets beat reporter, the infamous "I'll show you the Bronx" tirade in the Shea Stadium clubhouse. Many players howled with laughter when PR man Jay Horwitz made a cameo in a vain attempt to restrain Bonilla.
With a chilly rain falling outside and the players virtually on top of each other in the cramped clubhouse, that was a welcome diversion. Sale? What sale?
"All that stuff is outside the lines," Collins said. "We have no control over it. We have no say in it. We have nothing to do with it. It doesn't influence anything we do around here in this clubhouse."