This is a good day for the Mets’ owners.
Less than 12 hours after learning that the Wilpons and Saul Katz reached a settlement out of court to pay $162 million to trustee Irving Picard in the Bernie Madoff case, Teri Thompson and Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News are reporting that the Mets’ owners have closed those long-awaited deals to sell 12 minority shares in the team. Additionally, they have repaid their $25 million loan to MLB, a $40 million loan to Bank of America and additional club debt.
The minority shares are worth $20 million each. The total of $240 million is expected to cover the team’s operating costs during the 2012 season. Two of the shares are going to the Wilpons and Katz while another four are going to SNY, their partnered cable network. The only other known investor is hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, who is considered one of the frontrunners to buy the Dodgers.
I suppose it’s not surprising that this news came out on the same day as the settlement, as the Wilpons and Katz want to put this whole mess behind them and look like a solvent ownership group as soon as possible. Whether this is a positive development for the franchise or Mets fans in the long-term is up for debate, but the PR campaign is in full effect.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.