Mets morning briefing 2.21.12

The Mets undergo physicals today, with the first official workout Wednesday. Still, there will be plenty of activity at the Port St. Lucie complex today, including Johan Santana scheduled for his second mound session since resuming activity after a winter hiatus. Terry Collins also gives a state-of-the-team briefing.

Tuesday's news reports:

Francisco Rodriguez is mulling filing a grievance or taking legal action against his former agents, USA Today reported. The issue stems from K-Rod's no-trade list not being properly submitted, which allowed the Mets to trade the reliever to the Brewers last July, despite Milwaukee being on the intended 10-team no-trade list. Rodriguez's side contends that the Brewers using him as a set-up man diminished his value as a closer during the offseason, and he was forced to accept arbitration and return to Milwaukee on a one-year, $8 million contract. Writes Bob Nightengale:

Attorney Richard Johnson said Rodriguez was pondering a malpractice and fraud suit after a 10-hour mediation hearing last week with his former agents, Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group, did not produce a settlement. He could file a grievance with the MLB Players Association. "They did something atrocious," Johnson said. "Their arrogance makes this so evil. It's like rear-ending somebody but instead of stopping your car and trading insurance information they blew up the car and ran away. They committed negligence and turned it into a fraud case."

An attorney for K-Rod's former agency told USA Today the issue is not really the no-trade clause. "This is a fee dispute," attorney Bert Deixler told the newspaper. "The no-trade-list issue is a red herring. We promised to keep confidential what has occurred, will occur in mediation, and we think it is proper for us to keep that promise."

• In advance of Thursday's scheduled court hearing on motions to dismiss and summary judgment in the clawback lawsuit against Fred Wilpon and family, Richard Sandomir in the Times reviews last week's court filings. The trustee suing the Wilpons uses the term "Saul's cookie jar" to refer to the consistently high returns Bernard Madoff delivered to the family and asserts the Mets purposely deferred players' contracts because the interest they had to pay out on those deferrals was dwarfed by the returns Madoff could produce with the additional available capital that wasn't immediately distributed as player salary. Writes Sandomir:

Who is in the end right on matters of the Madoff “vig” -- and much else -- could well be settled at a jury trial that is set to begin March 19 in federal court in Manhattan. The filings that included references to the Madoff “vig” were contained in the last big legal swings of the bat before a formal hearing Thursday. That is when both sides make a final argument to have all or part of the multimillion-dollar legal action dismissed or ruled on immediately. The vig was described by David Katz, one of Saul’s sons, during a sworn deposition in late 2010 when he was questioned about one way that the family company, Sterling Equities, made money with Madoff. “You borrow money at 5 percent and you’d make 10 percent,” David Katz said. “You’d make a ‘vig,’ as my father would say, on the Bernie investment.”

Mike Kerwick in the Record profiles 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal to serve as the set-up man to former Toronto Blue Jays teammate Frank Francisco. Kerwick notes that despite his large frame, Rauch is no longer a flame-thrower, having undergone two shoulder surgeries. “I don’t throw hard,” Rauch told Kerwick. “Everybody expects me to throw 96, 97, 98 mph because of my size. But I’m not that kind of pitcher.” Writes Kerwick:

The Mets reliever has ink running up and down both arms, ink canvassing his back, ink sneaking up the right side of his neck. For those keeping score, that’s how many tattoos? “A lot,” Rauch said. “And several more to come.”

• Before Carlos Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants in July, he suggested to Jon Niese to get a nose job, and told Niese he'd foot the bill. Well, Niese went through with it in October, and said a positive byproduct of his aesthetic decision is that he is now breathing easier. Niese said instead of his nasal passage being like a partially open door pre-surgery, it was like "somebody ripped the hinges off the door and smashed it sideways into the wall." The southpaw lightheartedly said he plans to send Beltran the medical bills. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Times, Post and Daily News.

• Beltran's Sands Point home on Long Island is now for sale, Newsday reports. Asking price: $5.8 million. Writes Valerie Kellogg:

Apparently the stolid St. Louis Cardinals outfielder has a knack for music -- the more than 7,500-square-foot home includes a karaoke bar. Built in 2005, the seven-bedroom, six-bath house comes with a pool, a home theater, a gym and an outdoor stone bar and kitchen. The property is more than two acres. The home features a courtyard in front of the home as well as coffered ceilings, a great room with a barrel ceiling, French doors, a cedar roof and copper gutters, according to the listing.

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler is not in major league camp, but he worked out with major leaguers Monday, after arriving in Port St. Lucie a few days ahead of the step camp for top prospects, which opens next weekend. Wheeler is a profilic tweeter, which Andy McCullough notes in the Star-Ledger. Writes McCullough:

His public persona creates a contrast with fellow hard-throwing prospect Matt Harvey. “People have asked me that before,” Harvey said. “ ‘Why aren’t you on Twitter?’ ” He shrugged. “I don’t really like people knowing what I’m doing all the time.” Wheeler harbors none of those inhibitions. Each day he provides updates on his life. On Mondays, he likes to visit Moe’s Southwest Grill for their $5 burritos. He shoots pictures of his offseason bullpen sessions and provides running commentary during the Grammys. He watches “Eastbound and Down” and “Swamp People.”

Read more on Wheeler in Newsday.

R.A. Dickey regrets that Tim Wakefield's retirement means he's the lone active knuckleballer in the majors. Read more in the Post.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post says there are an awful lot of "ifs" that have to break right for the Mets if they are to amount to anything this season. Writes Vaccaro:

If everything goes perfectly ... then Jason Bay and David Wright will press the rewind button on their careers, and Lucas Duda and Ike Davis will press fast forward, and Daniel Murphy will figure out a way to stay out of the way around second-base pileups, and Ruben Tejada’s knack for getting on base will give you at least one substantive argument against the segment of your soul that already misses Jose Reyes. If everything goes perfectly ... then Santana will deliver 25 to 30 starts that resemble what he used to be, and Mike Pelfrey will -- all together now -- “finally figure it all out,” and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will patch together a six-month season, rather than the three-month fragments they have specialized in, and the bullpen will catch magic, and hey, why not, if the Giants can uncover a Victor Cruz and the Knicks can unearth a Jeremy Lin, maybe the Mets can find someone somewhere who we’ve never heard of this morning and will be all we can talk about four months from now.

Harvey Araton in the Times talks Jeremy Lin with David Wright. “It’s a little different, basketball from baseball,” Wright told Araton. “In basketball, one guy can make so much difference. At the same time, it should give every sport, every team, this refreshed look on what they have, what certain players can bring to the table. You never know. I’m sure now -- whether it’s basketball, football, baseball or hockey -- people are going to think twice before they just waive a guy. Everybody is going to be looking for that next Jeremy Lin.”

TRIVIA: Who has the most career strikeouts as a Mets hitter?

(Monday's answer: Miguel Batista threw the final pitch of the 2011 season. In fact, Batista tossed a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds in the Mets' season finale. Batista, who turned 41 on Sunday, became the oldest pitcher in franchise history to toss a nine-inning shutout.)