Mets owner and Fred Wilpon jokes around with pitcher Francisco...

Mets owner and Fred Wilpon jokes around with pitcher Francisco Rodriguez in Port St. Lucie. (Feb. 17, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Fred Wilpon spoke this morning at the Mets' spring-training complex (I can't write "Digital Domain Park" without cringing), and he was defiant that his family will "be vindicated" and will own the Mets for years to come.

I'm not buying it, and by "it," I don't mean "twenty-five percent of the Mets" - and by the way, Wilpon said the talks for that are going swimmingly.

I've always liked Fred Wilpon, I admit. I think he is a decent man. He is very highly regarded within the baseball community. I understand that he wants to protect his family's reputation.

But maybe the Wilpons would be better off at this point laying low and working not only on the Picard lawsuit but their finances in general? This New York Post story details the severity of the Mets' debt. There is significant concern within the aforementioned baseball community that the Wilpons simply have too many hurdles to clear.

Besides, I don't think this public-relations campaign is helping much. Wilpon spoke today of the "vindication" his family would eventually get, but when Harvey Araton of The New York Times asked if such tough talk meant the Wilpons wouldn't discuss a settlement with Picard, Wilpon backed down.

Not a good situation. And I'm not sure it really behooved the Mets for Bernie Madoff to be discussed once again as pitchers and catchers opened workouts.

--One pitcher didn't do any pitching, and that's Johan Santana. Sandy Alderson announced that the Mets' team doctors are projecting Santana to throw for about three months - from now until may - and then start actually pitching for 6-to-8 weeks. That would put Santana for a return date of late June or early July.

That calendar is obviously subjective to dips and turns in Santana's schedule. But it was nice to get a concrete timeline that sounds reasonable rather than overly optimistic.

Santana spoke optimistically that he'll be able to pitch like he used to. We'll have to see. This was some pretty major shoulder surgery. (Listen to Santana talk on our Facebook page.)

--I'm still not convined that Terry Collins will be a very good manager for the Mets, but he does bring a different sort of energy. "I can't stand standing around," he said today, after the workout, and he has designed the camp so that his players are constantly on the move, as well.

He wasn't fully pleased with the execution today, however, so tomorrow, veteran coach Guy Conti will blow a horn whenever it's time to change stations.

--Mariano Rivera reported to Yankees camp, after taking a few days to deal with his sick kids.

--Terrible story about Miguel Cabrera, who was arrested last night in Florida for driving under the influence. I assume the Tigers will try to get him back in counseling.

As Michael Rosenberg wrote in the linked column, Cabrera had a superb year in 2009, even when he was drinking. It makes it an even more difficult situation for the club to manage.

--Gary Sheffield has officially retired, although he hasn't played since 2009 with the Mets. So ends one of the most entertaining careers in major-league history.

Is he a Hall of Famer? He is for me, yeah, with a sufficient mix of longevity and dominance. I don't worry about the BALCO stuff, since it occurred in an era that one man once accurately described as "loosey-goosey."

--Have a great night.

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