PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson says the lawsuit against the team’s owners filed by the trustee trying to recover money for the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme should not affect operations at camp this spring.
Speaking as pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday for their first spring training under new manager Terry Collins, Alderson also said “it’s unlikely” any contract extension talks with shortstop Jose Reyes would take place during spring training. Alderson would like to see Reyes play during the season first.
While this usually is a time for optimism, owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said last month they are exploring selling up to a 25 percent stake in the team. They made the announcement because of what they said was “uncertainty” created by the lawsuit filed in December by trustee Irving H. Picard, who is seeking $300 million or more from the Mets owners and affiliated entities of Sterling Equities.
“I think it’s important for all of us, I think it’s important for ownership, that the focus here be on baseball,” Alderson said during a voluntary workout for players already in camp. “That’s certainly important to me. It’s important to Terry, and we want to make sure everyone involved here in this game understands that. We expect to have a good season, and those things we cannot control will not be an excuse.”
While the Wilpons claim they were victims who lost money in the Madoff swindle, Picard says they withdrew more than they put in and should have heeded warnings that Madoff’s claimed profits were too good to be true.
While the Mets didn’t spend much money to add players during the offseason, Alderson said the situation with ownership should not impact whether he will pursue a long-term contract with Reyes, who is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.
“I’m confident I can do anything with any one individual player,” Alderson said. “Anything we do is going to be viewed through the prism of what’s going on in New York. There’s no question about that. All I can do is try to make the best baseball judgments. And at this point I’m not facing any limitations. At this point I don’t expect to.”
Though Alderson said there are no limitations placed on him, he added “it’s unlikely” any contract extension talks will take place this spring training. He would like to see Reyes in season first.
“I’m the kind of person that likes to get a feel for people and how they tick and be around them a little bit,” Alderson said. “This isn’t just about scouting evaluations. It’s about getting comfortable with Jose and other people who are in camp as someone who hasn’t been around.”
Alderson took issue with any suggestion that Reyes might not be his type of player. He said Reyes is “the whole package” and “definitely the kind of impact player that can make a huge difference.”
“I had a lot of different players on a lot of different teams, many of whom had very different profiles,” Alderson said. “That (suggestion) probably alludes to his reliance on speed and my sense that maybe speed is not as critical, but he brings so many different things to the table that you can’t just focus on the speed element. The speed element is a plus. There’s no question about that, and well appreciated by me, by the way.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.