The early story lines from spring training will center on second baseman Luis Castillo and pitcher Oliver Perez and their chances of making the club. That's primarily because the Mets have $18 million invested in the two players.
To be sure, money and the Mets will be the overriding theme throughout the season and probably beyond.
The Mets need money to address the suit being brought by trustee Irving Picard in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
But there is an ironic aspect to the situation: The Mets may need hundreds of millions, but potential investors seeking majority control of the team have been turned way. That is according to Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the firm retained by the Mets to explore minority investors.
No more than 25 percent of the team is available, Greenberg told Newsday. Interest has come, he added, ``from people who want confidentiality,’’ and that likely rules out such names as Donald Trump and others of bombast who have been quoted as showing interest.
Greenberg said the process of confirming potential investors will take many months, with Major League Baseball playing a big role in vetting the candidates.
Greenberg also said potential suitors have not raised the issue of their money being at risk if the Wilpon family is found liable for the nearly $1 billion Picard is seeking.Greenberg said his chareg of finding potential minority ownership is unrelated to the results of the Picard-Wilpon matter.
How all this translates to the playing field remain to be seen, but it appears fairy certain the Mets will not be adding any significant payroll in the foreseeable future.
Even before the Wilpons went public with the possibility of minority ownership, a cost cutting program clearly was in effect. Pitcher R.A Dickey got a relatively modest two-year deal for $7.5 million, other rotation candidates Chris Young ($1.1) and Chris Capuano ($1.5) came in dirt cheap.
If there appears to be an emphasis on finding a way to keep Perez ($12 million) and Castillo ($6 million), it is surely a last ditch effort to try and get something out of the guaranteed contracts.
The Mets would not be shedding $18 million by releasing the two. They would be losing it in what turned out to be bad deals.
They’ve had enough of those lately.