Report: Ruling close on $1 billion lawsuit against the Wilpons and Saul Katz

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According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff is expected to issue a ruling as soon as Monday on whether to toss all or part of a $1 billion lawsuit against the owners of the Mets.

Trustee Irving Picard is suing the Wilpons and Saul Katz in an attempt to capture funds for victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. He seeks $300 million in “fictitious profits” and an additional $700 million in principal from the Wilpon family, alleging that they turned a blind eye to the fraudulent activity.

While Rakoff’s ruling is important, it won’t be the final word on the situation. One potential scenario is that he could throw out the $700 million lawsuit, leaving the rest to be decided at a trial set to begin on March 5, 2012. Rakoff’s ruling could ultimately lead the two sides to have more serious talks about a settlement.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.