The Role of Ownership

The Role of Ownership

We’re less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting and the only thing we seem to all be reading about is the possibility of the Mets taking on a new minority owner.

 
I counted 147 posts on my twitter account yesterday about the Mets, and 101 were on the ownership topic.

 
As some of you know, I was a 20% minority owner in a company. I also was the President, until my “partners” wanted to expand on the company in the troublesome 1980’s and I voted against it due to our already large debt owed to the banks. They met without me (their right), voted me out as President, and told me to take a hike while still retaining a personal guarantee against the debt. A year later, they sold the company for seven figures less than we owed and I got stuck with my portion of the bill. Trust me, it ain’t that special.

 
Is ownership that important to you, the fan?

 
Ask yourself a few questions:

 
1. How many names do you know that own either a team in the MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL?

 
2. How many of them meddle in the day-to-day operation of their teams?

 
3. And, regarding those that meddle, how many times have they won a championship in their respective league?

 
Companies run best when ownership hires an excellent leader, and then let’s that person build the company with excellent divisional managers, who then… you get the picture.

 
The best example I worked for in this category was The Hearst Corporation. William Randolph Hearst actually set up a Board of Directors that had no family members. Each division head reported to him and the board and that divisional head had 100% say in the day-to-day operation of that division. I worked one floor below the President of Hearst Broadcasting as the General Sales Manager of their Pittsburgh radio stations. I met the President on my interview, each year’s Christmas lunch, and a five-minute exit-interview a few years later. My boss, the General Manager of the radio stations, met with him daily. I met with the GM daily. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

 
Some businesses have family problems. The New York Giants were a perfect example of this. Fifty per cent of the team was owned by the late Wellington Mara, while the other half was owned by his nephew, Tim Mara. They hated each other. In fact, they didn’t even talk to each other. But, both were smart enough to hire a competent General Manager, George Young, and then let him do their job. Young hired Bill Parcells and the rest is history.

 
I really don’t care who owns the rest, I care who runs it.

 
The fans own the Green Bay Packers, but they don’t pick the players. A Japanese company owns the Seattle Mariners, but they don’t serve goiza in the dugout.

 
A company takes on a minority partner because they either need additional operating monies, or a competent operator that demands a piece of the action. The company that hired me was operating into the grave. I got my piece to run their company and they never told me how to that. We became highly profitable, sold part of the company off to retire all the old debt, and then began to buy new additions into the company. We were then hit with the recession, and went south. Their solution was to buy more and run up more debt, while, at the same time, refinance the debt we then had over our head. I didn’t like the idea. So goes my ownership days.

 

Let the Wilpons work out their own problems. None directly relate to field operations. New money will come in, old contracts will run out at the end of 2011, and 2012 will begin a new chapter in New York baseball.

 
Just root for the team. They need your support.

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Q and A: – MetsBlog’s Michael G. Baron

Mack: Morning everybody. We’re talking with Michael G. Baron, Mets photographer extraordinaire and Matt Cerrone’s right hand guy on http://www.metsblog.com . Good morning Michael. Are you in camp yet?
 

Baron: Not quite yet, but we’re just over two weeks away, and I hope to be there on February 15 or 16 at this point
 

Mack: Michael, it will be nice to get back to talking about baseball rather than minority ownership. Do you think this mess will be a major distraction to Terry Collins and the team come “picture day”?
 

Baron: One can say it’s an early test for both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson, and their ability to separate the business side of things and what goes on in between the lines. Ultimately, their job is to win, and I believe this group will have no problem creating a separation.
 

Mack: Okay… let’s talk Mets. Obviously, David Wright is untouchable, both to the fans and the “administration”. If you were the GM, would there be anyone else that you would etch in stone?

Baron: It’s hard to say anyone in the organization is untouchable, given the right circumstances. I do believe someone such as David Wright would not be dealt, but you never really know what is going to happen.
As much as I want David Wright and Jose Reyes to be on this team for the rest of their careers, at the end of the day, this organization has struggled to win consistently as of late, and any and all possibilities to improve the team have to be exhausted, including the possibility of dealing core players. I think there are ways to build around both of those players, and I feel both can be part of any winning solution, but if Sandy Alderson feels the team can be better both in the short and long term of the franchise by dealing one or both, I have to believe in that – what choice as a fan would I have?
I would think that for now, Wright along with Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, Wilmer Flores, and Jeurys Familia are untouchable. But again, things change, and opportunities change, and so nothing would surprise me at this point.

Mack: Talked with Jeurys today… he’s ready. Regarding Ike Davis, I love the guy, but he does have a way to go. I remember the first 100 at-bats for Mike Jacobs as a Met and he hit a .600 slugging percentage. Does Davis have to produce at the Carlos Delgado level to keep his job or will the Mets be happy with a 25-HR/80-RBI/.275 batting average?

Baron: I think it all depends. First base is in fact a power position, but Davis does have amazing power. I would think any team would like to see a higher RBI total out of their first baseman, but he’s also an above average defensive player as well which adds a ton of value. Unless they can dramatically improve via trade or in the free agent market over the next few years, having a player under control like Davis, who will come at a relative discount until the middle part of the decade is not exactly a bad option.

Mack: The Mets made a bunch of mid-level additions this year. Last year’s bonus was R.A. Dickey. Any thoughts on who might turn some heads in Flushing this season?

Baron: I think Chris Young is a key to their success, but if he’s healthy, I think he’ll be a pleasant surprise and a welcome addition to the rotation.

Mack: Michael, you’ve got one of the greatest jobs in the world. You get to walk around and take pictures of the New York Mets!!! How did that come to be?

Baron: I started taking pictures at Met games in 2002. I didn’t own a camera at the time but I had borrowed my friend’s Olympus point and shoot camera to take on a trip to Las Vegas, and still had possession of the camera for an extra day so I decided to take it to Shea Stadium and shoot a game between the Mets and Phillies. From then on, I was hooked, went out to get my own point and shoot, and I’ve been taking pictures at games ever since.


In Spring Training of 2009, I sent Matt some live photos from Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, but at the time I didn’t intend for them to reach MetsBlog – I was there, at Spring Training, and I figured he might be interested in the photos, and the next thing I knew, he posted them to MetsBlog and they were an instant hit.
Around Opening Day that same year, Matt and I met at Citi Field and we once again talked about me writing for MetsBlog. Again, simply wanted to provide the pictures for the site, but he wanted me to write and act as a backup to him when he would be unavailable. I decided to give it a shot, although I was uncertain how it would go because I’m not a writer, but here we are, almost two years into writing regularly for MetsBlog, and I love it, and don’t regret a minute of it.
As you said, being able to follow the Mets as closely as I do now is truly great. But most people don’t realize it’s not a full time job for me. As a matter of fact, I don’t get paid at all for what I do with the Mets. I genuinely enjoy writing, and spending the time writing, and going to games and photographing. It’s not easy to manage at times, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.

Mack: Michael, I’m a big fan of your Flicka site… (here comes the shameless plug…)
Could you fill everyone in on how they can both view and purchase some of your great shots…

Baron: I upload all of my photos to flickr, and they can be viewed at anytime by visiting the following site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgbaron . In addition, those galleries are fed into www.MichaelGBaron.com  at http://www.michaelgbaron.com/pictures , which will serve as the new MetsPhotos.com, and that gives me a platform to blog not just about my experience with the Mets, but all teams from all sports.
Mack: Michael, thanks for spending a few moments with us.. .last question… any prediction for the Mets in 2011?

Baron: I think this team will be better coached, and in turn they will have better execution on a more consistent basis. I think it’s possible they could contend for a Wild Card, and if things go right, I expect them to contend. However, I think a more realistic target for this group of Mets is 82-86 wins.

Q and A – CL/SP – Ryan Fraser

10-5-10 interview:

 
Mack: – Hey folks, today we’re talking with the 16th round draft pick in the last draft, closer Ryan Fraser. Hey Ryan, thanks for participating. Ryan, you were the 16th round pick by the Mets in the last draft. I ask this of all the guys… take us back and tell us what that day was like for you….
 

Fraser: – I am down in Ft. Myers, working on my craft. it feels good to be back in the sunshine state again. Not too many people know that I was born up Interstate 75 in Bradenton. I was eight when we moved to Tennessee, but I still have family that lives down here. They are excited to watch me play having played up north all year.
Draft day was a great experience. I knew that I was gonna get a chance but I had no idea what round or team would decide to take a chance on me. My dad and I had the draft pulled up on the Internet but I tried to stay away from it. Being a college senior, I didn’t want to see my name slip towards the later rounds. My girlfriend and I were in and out of the pool, just enjoying life. When my name was called by the Mets in the 16 round, my dad, who had been following it like a hawk, started freaking out and going crazy. My girlfriend and I were in the living room watching TV. I thought my dad was joking until I saw my name on the computer screen. Then I got the call from Erwin Bryant, who liked me enough to draft me that high. That day was truly eventful and one that I will never forget.
Mack: – So, you sign, and the Tennessee boy winds up in Coney island eating eight dollar hot dogs… what was that all about… ?

 
Fraser: – Its weird that would send me all the way up to Brooklyn instead of placing me on the Kingsport club. I know my parents would have rather me play there because it would have been a lot easier for them to come watch. I guess Erwin liked me enough to send me up to the higher level, that and Wally needed another back end pitcher. I’m glad that I was a good fit to play there. NYC was a completely different atmosphere from anything that I have ever experienced. I believe playing in front of so many fans every night is about the closest you can get to playing at Citi Field than any other of the Mets affiliates, or at least that’s what I have heard. I had a blast and couldn’t ask for a better summer.
Mack: – Ryan, I can’t tell you how much it helps to play in front a crowd like that early in one’s career.
Anyway, all you go and do is pitch in 26 games, go 3-3, 1.44, strike out 39 in 31.1 innings, and become the top closer prospect in the organization. Ryan, how far back do you go as a closer?


Fraser: – Well, to be honest, this summer was the first time that I have pitched in that role. I was always a starter or middle reliever. I only closed one game at Memphis this year. We snapped a 13 game losing streak to our rival Ole Miss. I liked being a closer up in Brooklyn, but the rumor is that they might turn me back into a starter next year, so we will see.

Mack: – I hope that happens. Right now, the system is a little short on power starters (just wrote about that, and you, earlier today…). Let’s bring everyone up to date with what you’re throwing and the mph range you played with this season.

Fraser: – I don’t throw anything special. I have three pitches: fastball, slider, and change-up. I think I can get my fastball up to 95, slider about 79-81, and my change-up is a bit stiff around 83.

Mack: – I’d say a 95mph heater is something special… Ryan, that’s about it for now. Thanks for the time spent.
10-5-10: – 2011 Forecast: – Fraser seems to be a very confident young man who has the world ahead of him. It will be interesting to see how the Mets handle him in the Intruction League this month. This would be a good time to stretch him out if they have plans to return him to a starting role next season. Where would he start? It’s pretty crowded from Lucy to Brooklyn, so who the heck knows? My guess, if he’s a starter: a return to Brooklyn. If a closer: Lucy.

I May Be Wrong, But… Matt Cerrone, Jeff Wilpon, Matt Garrioch, Oliver Perez, R.A. Dickey, Kai Gronauer, Kirk Nieuwenhuis

1. Some posters may grow older, but never wiser. I paid a visit to one of my old stomping grounds, NYFS, and found a particular post interesting. It was about Matt Cerrone, of www.metsblog.com  and I couldn’t believe how many of the many loyal posters there think Matt doesn’t know what he is doing. I’ve always had trouble with haters online, but knock Matt Cerrone? Isn’t he the guy that gives most of you morning cup of Mets stuff?

2. Jeff Wilpon seems to be getting a little soft on the loss of Omar. He’s been quoted as saying he misses him and would welcome him back in some capacity. Listen, firing someone can bring you a lot of guilt. I fired people who thought they were my friend. One eventually hung himself in his mother’s bedroom. I haven’t held a job in the radio industry for over  ten years and I still have a minimum of three nightmares a week about that subject. Change is sometimes inevitable and people need to move on without each other. Stay away, Omar.

3. Matt Garrioch, over at www.mlbbonusbaby.com , listed the top 20 international kids signed in the off-season and none were Mets. I expected Elvis Sanchez to be on this list, but I guess Matt wasn’t high on him. There easily could have been a drop off in signings this past off-season, what with all the turnover of brass and scouts. Seven of my top ten Mets prospects came out of international signings, which speaks for its strengths, and the weakness of past Mets drafts.

4. the Mets looking for a minority partner means only one thing… they’re out of family moolah. My first minority ownership was with Specter Broadcasting. Why? Because the original owners came close to running the company in the ground. This is really good news for Mets fans and could be the first step in someday being returned to operating as a big-market team. Hats off to the Wilpons for recognizing the problem.

5.Oliver Perez will compete for a job in spring training as a starter, not a relief pitcher He’s coming off the Mexican League fully stretched, and he will go against Dillon Gee, Chris Young, and Pat Misch for the 4th/5th slot. Chris Capuano will begin ST out of the pen, per Terry Collins.

6. Congrats go out on the 2-year deal for SP R.A. Dickey. The best news about this is the fact it isn’t a 3-year deal. Dickey’s earned this, and even if he fails as a starter, would make a nice addition out of the pen. We all know that both Jenrry Mejia and Matt Harvey are slotted for 2014, but that’s a long way away and anything can happen. On paper, there is no better potential SP5 than Dickey.

7.  I see that Captain Kirk and Kai Gronauer have both been invited to be part of the Mets spring training roster. This will be Kai’s first entrance into the sacred clubhouse and I’m thrilled for him. I’ve contacted him for a response, which, if received, will be in my next posting.

8. changing web site is a real pain… I’ve contacted SportsSpyder and hopefully, they will include my new site soon. We continue to work on the new site, which will change to a real domain site sometime in the next 30 days. My name is owned by some other site, so we’re going to change it eventually to MackBaseball.com …  I’m sorry to put all of you through this, but it’s a necessity for me to accomplish my long term goals as a Mets writer.

9. Could the announcement by the Wilpons have worse timing? We’re less than 20 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting and the last thing Sandy Alderson and Company needs is this kind of media distraction. It must be really bad to throw a press conference about this now. I’m sure the players and coaches will all be a little testy if questions come their way about this crap.

Q and A: – Daniel Murphy

  

pic by Mack Ade

 

Tim Kinnie posted on your Wall.   

Tim wrote:

“Mack, I’m a big fan of Dan Murphy and I think he brings a certain grittyness to the team along with being a clutch hitter. Do you feel he has a real shot at winning the second base job or is he destined to be our super utility guy and outstanding pinch hitter? If not Murph, who is your frontrunner?”

 Mack:

Tim, I really do (btw… never call him Dan… he goes by Daniel).

The important thing to remember is the fact that he has  already won two starting jobs in the past, right field in 2009, and first base in 2010. That’s how much the Mets loved his bat.

The “wild card” here is the fact that all the powers to be now are new people. Is there anyone currently on the brass-team that would consider doing something as stupid as making a player play left field, as a major leaguer, without any previous experience?

Sandy and Co.seems a lot more grounded than Omar and Co. This probably means that Murphy needs to have a killer ST defensively at second base, while, at the same time, show off his bat.

The “kiss of death” might have been recent comments by Terry Collins about playing Murph at both first base and third this spring. It looks like the new manager has already pigeon-holed Daniel into a future utility role.

I only hope they don’t muddle up everything by giving valuable game time to Luis Castillo. I’ve always been a big fan of Castillo, but it’s time to cut fish and move on to the future.

The real good news is second base is looking better. Reports are that Reese Havens is healthy again, and his ceiling is far higher than Murphy. Both have Dan Uggla-type production potential, which has been missing since Fonzie went south.

  

 

Q&A: “Vito Spatafore” (Joseph R. Gannascoli)

Mack: Morning girls and boys… We’re talking baseball this morning with Joseph R. Gannascoli… but you may know him better as “Vito Spatafore” from The Sopranos. Come stai, Joseph?

Gannascoli: I’m great Mack, getting ready for Christmas looking forward to my daughter’s second one.

Mack: Joe, I’m constantly interviewing Mets players and fans, so I thought I’d hop the ‘A” train and get a Yankees fan’s perspective on what’s going on in the Mets front office. Do you think the Mets are finally going in the right direction?

Gannascoli: I do, they have hired some sound and respected baseball people, they have a bit of a mess to clean up, and some on the lazy play that’s some Mets have been playing, Reyes can control a game which is rare for baseball, like Ricky Henderson used to do, but only when he wanted to .

Mack: Speaking of shortstops… do you really think Derek Jeter is worth the kind of money his agent is asking for, or shouldn’t the Yankees use that money to get Cliff Lee?

Gannascoli: He is not worth it and they should use it for Cliff Lee. I think 3 yrs 48 – 50 million is more than fair and he should not carry on in the papers.

Mack: There’s a big debate going on here between myself and my fellow Mack’s Met writer, David Rubin, and that is whether signing all these big time free agents are they way to go. I mean, the Yankees have spent around a billion dollars over the last ten years on big dudes and what has that got them, one World Series?

Gannascoli: But, they are always in the hunt, and the fans know they are committed to trying to win, they built a brand that is worldwide, I don’t know if they make money, I’m assuming they do even with all the spending, but the sales of merchandising, TV network and such, seems to be a successful business model, although I hate seeing empty seats behind the plate. Hal and Hank may be a little more frugal than George, but still committed to putting the best players on the field possible, I also believe they developed blue chippers in the farm so they can trade and get a player so they can win now, unless it’s a 5 tool can’t miss or someone that is aging and that player has a shot to step in, i.e. Montero and Romine .

Mack: Oh, they make a ton of money… let’s move on to something dear to both of us… It sure has been a strange year for our Jints this year, hasn’t it? .

Gannascoli: Well, typical giants, I am the eternal optimist, especially with my teams and G-men. Fewell was the biggest addition, healthy Canty,Tuck, Cofied, Osi, Phillips, Rolle and Grant have been great. We had 3 great receivers, bummed about kiwi, jpp is a monster, dodge will be ok, running backs love each other and are pulling for one another they will do fine, Eli is clutch, always said Peyton better Eli will win more rings, we can beat Philly .

Mack: Joe, tell us what you’ve been doing lately in the entertainment world…

Gannascoli: Some indies and plenty of my book and cigars signings at restaurants and lounges .

Mack: Last question Joe… Not much chance for a sequel, now that you (Vito), Phil Leotardo, Gerry Torelano, and “Fat Don” Gamiello have been wacked… buy let’s say Vito, Paulie, and Tony were the three new Mets VPs… how would they handle this off-season? .

Gannascoli: Not to mention Christopher, Bacala and Silvio. Well, first off, Paulie would have them stealing all the time and not just bases, but their gloves, bats, cleats.Tony sure could stare down a lot of opposing pitchers and me, well I would just say if you guys don’t perform , you’re going to have to meet by the bat or else … .

Mack: Thank you, Joe, for your time and we’ll see you in the movies.

Gannascoli: This was fun.

I May Be Wrong, But… Jenrry Mejia, Wally Backman,Terry Collins, Alex Silver, Adam Rubin, Daniel Murphy, John Maine

 

photo by Michael G. Baron

1. I see that the Mets were shut out in the MLB Top 50 prospect list that aired on TV opposite the State of the Union Address by President Obama (by the way, how come no one pays this guy the respect to put the word “President” in front of his last name?). I had predicted Mets fans only needed to turn on during the last 15 minutes figuring Jenrry Mejia would sneak in near the end. This makes one remember one important thing when we are discussing Mets prospects… other teams get to sign players also.

2. Having Daryl Strawberry predict that Wally Backman will be the next Mets manager is like having Lenny Dykstra pick the next stock you’re going to buy. How would you like to be Terry Collins and you wake up and find out one of your roving coaches is already predicting your demise? Nice timing, Straw. Maybe you should stick to the restaurant business and the big Yankee reunion you’re having at the end of this month.

3. I was thrilled to hear Terry Collins say there would be  less players in camp this year. The first thing this tells me is that most, if not all, of the players that are currently projected not to make one of the four full-year minor league teams, won’t report until near the end of ST. This gives the players fighting for jobs more innings to pitch and more grounders to catch. Secondly, it screams of a major league clubhouse of only 40-man members and newbies that have recently been signed. I like that idea to. Don’t put thoughts unachievable in the heads of young prospects. Let them mature at the levels they are supposed to play in.

4. My prayers go out to Texas freshman third baseman Alex Silver, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s scheduled to only miss the first couple of months of the 2011 season. For the full story:  http://texas.247sports.com/Article/Silver-ready-to-fight-disease-12807

5. Adam Rubin had a nice interview with Daniel Murphy on Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida. I loved the line about, when Murphy arrived in camp one day, someone asked him “what position he played?”. He answered with “hitter number three”. I have big money on Murph going into this spring training and I don’t understand why the Mets keep signing more guys to compete with someone who has already proved he should be in the starting lineup. Who cares that he never has played second base. No one hits the ball over there, anyway.

 6. I visited one of my favorite sites this morning, http://baseballdraftreport.com/, and I learned that the author was off work today due to “thundersnow”. Now, I’ve been around for a while, and I’ve watched a lot of weather channels, but this was a new one on me. Thundershow?  Was this the name of a new rock band?  I went to Wikipedia and found out there are four different forms of thundersnow. Great. Now there’s four things I didn’t know squat about.

7. John Maine is working out for teams as a relief pitcher. Wasn’t this what a bunch of us said he should have been doing last year? I’m told that all pitchers lie to their pitching coach about their aches and pains, but I’m also told that Maine took the book when it came to telling no one about nothing. Anybody that covered the start of spring training last year could observe that John’s velo was gone, yet Omar and Co. still turned a blind eye and slotted him into the rotation. However, let’s remember he basically was a throw-in in the Jorge Julio for Kris Benson trade on 1-22-06.