Terry Collins will address his players at 9 a.m. today. Then it's time to head outdoors for the first official full-squad workout.
Monday's news reports:
• David Wright reacted to the contract extension childhood friend/fellow National League East third baseman Ryan Zimmerman received with the Washington Nationals. The Nats added six years and $100 million to Zimmerman's existing contract. The Mets hold a team option for 2013 with Wright, so any contract extension talks -- if they materialize -- likely will wait until next offseason. Wright said in-season talks are not ideal. Similarly, trading Wright during this season appears a less-likely scenario than him completing at least this year with the Mets. A team official told the Daily News that the Mets would need four Zack Wheelers -- the prospect the Mets received in the Carlos Beltran trade from the San Francisco Giants -- in return to deal Wright at this year's summer deadline.
Still, columnist Joel Sherman in the Post foresees Wright ultimately a goner. Writes Sherman:
He is trying to re-establish his value, hoping to capitalize on those nearer Citi Field fences to return to the land of 30 homers, 100 RBIs and a .300 average. The irony is that will, if anything, make him more likely to be traded either this July or, more probably, after the Mets pick up his $16 million option for 2013. This is why the Zimmerman contract provides a larger context of where the Mets are within the NL East. The Nationals and Marlins are in go-for-it mode, building their star bases and payrolls. The Braves have as large a collection of impressive, young major-league ready arms as any organization. The Phillies are the star-heavy, five-time defending division champs.
• Johan Santana simulated throwing two innings during a bullpen session Sunday. The southpaw is scheduled to throw batting practice to Mets hitters Friday, setting up a March 6 Grapefruit League matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals. Collins said the real test of Santana's surgically repaired left shoulder will begin then. Read more in the Record, Post, Daily News and Newsday.
• The Ruben Tejada arrival saga storyline has run its course, after Collins made reference to Derek Jeter as a paragon of virtue. Collins met with Tejada on Sunday morning and everyone is now ready to proceed. Read more in the Journal, Times, Star-Ledger, Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.
• Richard Sandomir in the Times reviews the arguments both sides will use assuming the $386 million civil trial proceeds against Fred Wilpon and family on March 19 as scheduled. Judge Jed S. Rakoff must rule by March 5 whether to allow the trial to go ahead. Rakoff alternatively could toss the case, as the Wilpons' attorneys have requested. He also could award the trustee suing the Wilpons $83 million -- allegedly the Wilpons' profits in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme in the two years before Madoff was arrested. In that scenario, Rakoff then either must decide if that's all the plaintiff gets, or whether Rakoff will still let the trustee try to recover another $303 million at trial by attempting to prove the Wilpons were "willfully blind" to Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
At the latest hearing, four days ago, Rakoff decided to toss expert witnesses from both sides. The judge also heard arguments from the lawyers about how he should rule with respect to a trial proceeding. Essentially, for Rakoff to toss the case, he would have to find that even if everything trustee Irving Picard alleges is true, reasonable jurors could not find for him in court. Writes Sandomir:
Lawyers for Katz and Wilpon argued that the men were ordinary customers of Madoff’s -- not sophisticated investors -- entitled to the protections of the law. [Saul] Katz and Wilpon say they saw nothing suspicious about Madoff over more than 20 years of investing with him. "The trustee has confused the record, has piled on irrelevant paper, has mischaracterized evidence," said Karen Wagner, the lead lawyer for the Mets’ owners. She said the trustee "distorts the evidence in this case in order to attempt to come under a standard he cannot meet." David Sheehan, the counsel to the trustee, argued that there was ample evidence to show that Katz and Wilpon had been willfully blind to numerous indications that Madoff might have been engaged in fraud. Sheehan said that Wagner's clients were not "run-of-the-mill guys investing in a retail brokerage operation." He cited another brush with a Ponzi scheme in which Sterling Stamos, the investment firm co-owned by Wilpon and Katz’s company, repaid $13 million when a hedge fund called Bayou collapsed. Sheehan cited a 2005 Sterling meeting agenda with this entry: "Have learned a lot from the Bayou experience."
• Post columnist Mike Vaccaro strolled out to Field 7, which has been reconfigured to the new dimensions of Citi Field. The Mets left the old walls up too, so Mets hitters could get a feel for just how big the difference is between the former stadium dimensions and the new ones. Collins even had staff leave the balls that were hit during batting practice between the walls there -- the ones that will be homers now, but would not the past three years -- so that hitters can see the tangible difference in homer-friendliness with the revised dimensions. Writes Vaccaro:
How vast is it? Put it this way: You could drive a couple of Escalades side-by-side and still have room for a few Harleys. It is wider than a hotel concourse. Stepping it off heel-to-toe, it took 10 paces of my size 13 Puma Clydes to make it from front to back. "Comparatively," catcher Josh Thole said, "it feels like you can reach out and touch the fence." That was the idea, Terry Collins insists. They kept the old fences up for a reason, and he saw the results the first day the early-reporting regulars took live batting practice. "After a while," Collins said, “I took a walk out there, and there’s like a dozen baseballs lying in that area between the fences, home runs now that would’ve been something else before." Collins told his coaches, "Make sure you walk the guys back this way, so they can see those baseballs lying on the grass. Let them see what they’re going to be in for once we get them back home."
For a diagram of the Citi Field alterations, check this Oct. 31 blog entry.
TRIVIA: Manny Acosta and Tejada were born in Panama. Name the last Panamian-born player to appear in the majors with the Mets before them.
(Sunday's answer: Two players in Mets major league game have fathers who are college baseball coaches. Third base prospect Zach Lutz's father Yogi is the head coach at Alvernia College in Pennsylvania. Matt Harvey's father Edward is a coach on the staff at the UConn Avery Point. Both teams play in Florida in the coming weeks, near the Mets' complex.)