Alderson: Madoff Mess Hasn't Affected Mets' Plans

By RONALD BLUM
|  Monday, Jan 31, 2011  |  Updated 8:30 PM EDT
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The <a title=New York Mets said they are exploring the possibility of selling part of the team as their settlement talks continue amid the ongoing Madoff mess." />

The New York Mets said they are exploring the possibility of selling part of the team as their settlement talks continue amid the ongoing Madoff mess.

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Sandy Alderson insists a lawsuit against the Mets owners by the trustee trying to recover money for Bernie Madoff's victims isn't limiting his moves as the team's new general manager.

"When I interviewed and took this position, I was of course aware of the pre-existing involvement of the Wilpons and the Mets with Bernie Madoff," Alderson said Monday. "I wasn't privy to all of the detail, nor am I or most of us at this point privy to all that detail, and I wouldn't expect to be. At the same time, none of that has affected what I have done over the last two months and I don't expect that it will have any impact on what I do over the next several months, including into the 2012 offseason."

Speaking during a conference call to announce knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's $7.8 million, two-year contact, Alderson said the team's high payroll caused the lack of major moves since he replaced Omar Minaya after the 2010 season.

The Mets finished last season at $127.6 million, the sixth-highest in the major leagues, according to the commissioner's office. Alderson estimated the 2011 payroll will be between $140 million and $150 million.

Mets owner Fred Wilpon said the decision to explore new investors was created by uncertainty caused by the lawsuit filed last month by trustee Irving Picard, who says the Mets made nearly $48 million in Madoff's Ponzi scheme. He said the Mets Limited Partnership originally invested about $523 million, but eventually withdrew about $571 million from the accounts.

"Obviously there's a certain level of ambiguity surrounding this news," Alderson said. "To some extent the decision to find a minority partner or some other source of recapitalizing the franchise is positive news from my standpoint. If there was a financial problem before and it's being addressed, that can only be positive from my standpoint."

Alderson said he never raised the Madoff situation during his negotiations to become GM.

"I'm not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets, a well-known backdrop," he said. "Some circumstances have changed. Would it have changed my position? I don't think so."

Also Monday, Martin Luther King Jr.'s oldest son said any discussion of his potential interest in becoming a minority owner of the Mets is premature.

Martin Luther King III said he was contacted Saturday by television executive Larry Meli, who is interested in putting together a group that would include former Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon Jr., whose father was MVP of the Mets' 1969 World Series victory.

King said he encouraged Meli because it would increase diversity. But King also said he was not actively putting together a group.

"This was blown up way out of proportion," King said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "While I'm not leading a group and I'm not having direct conversations with the Wilpons, I think it is very important to promote diversity in ownership."

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