The Wilpons are looking to sell a minority stake in the Mets

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As everyone know, Fred Wilpon was taken for a bunch of money in the Bernie Madoff scam.  Yeah, he “broke even” in the sense that he got back his investment, but that was just because he was one of the early lucky ones who got their ponzi scheme money back.  It wasn’t real investment earnings, and because of the way the law works with respect to ponzi schemes, Wilpon is probably going to be on the hook to give back the phony earnings Madoff gave him in order to make those who truly lost their shirts whole again.  There’s a lawsuit to that effect pending right now, and eventually Wilpon will likely have to fork over an awful lot of money.

It is then little surprise that today the Wilpons announced that the Mets ownership group is looking for “strategic partners” to “provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win.”  Translation:  we’re looking to sell a stake in the team so we can get some cash.

The Wilpons say in their statement — the entirety of which is reprinted below — that they intend to maintain majority control of the team.  Of course, as in war, no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy, so it’s not like they can promise that they’ll keep control.  If someone is willing to bail them out in a highly beneficial manner but demands majority control of the team, the Wilpons would have to consider it, right?

It’s been known for some time that another shoe could drop with respect to the Madoff business, and this is apparently it.  In the short term, however, it shouldn’t have much of an impact on the Mets as a baseball team.  They were already facing big payroll obligations for 2011 and have set out on something of an austerity plan in light of it.  They haven’t made big moves this winter and clearly aren’t poised to do so until the payroll goes down.

In the long term: this could mean major changes for the Mets franchise.

Fred Wilpon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Mets, and Jeff Wilpon, Chief Operating Officer of the New York Mets, issued the following statement:

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members ofour families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy. We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number ofpotential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners. To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our advisor.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team’s operations. The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.

As we have said before, we are totally committed to having the Mets again become a World Series winner. Our fans and all New Yorkers deserve nothing less.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.