The Mets Lose Their White Knight

Hedge fund titan is reportedly out as bidder for a minority stake

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Mr. Met is, as always, optimistic about the future.

    If you thought there was going to be a quick and easy answer to the Mets' financial woes, you'll be disappointed to learn that Steve Cohen is reportedly out as a bidder for a stake in the Mets.

    The Post reports Wednesday that the head of mammoth hedge fund SAC Capital has had a change of heart and decided against handing the Wilpons $200 million for 49 percent of the Mets. That comes on the heels of last week's reports that a sale was imminent and sends the Mets back to square one in their search for a buyer before a June deadline.

    That leaves us wondering if this is good news or bad news for the Mets? 

    There's not much to worry about in the short term as Bud Selig has made it clear that however bad the Wilpons have managed their finances, there's no chance he'll seize the team the way he did with the Dodgers. But what about the bigger picture?

    GOOD NEWS: Cohen is being investigated by prosecutors for trades he made on the recommendation of employees who have since pleaded guilty to insider trading. The Mets don't much need another financial scandal in their ranks right now.

    Given how hard Selig works to have only his chosen bidders involved in buying teams (see no Mark Cuban), it wouldn't be surprising to learn that this played a role in the end of Cohen's interest. That's just speculation, but Bud only wants Bud acolytes and he presumably doesn't want more dirt thrown on what should be a marquee franchise. 

    BAD NEWS: Cohen seemed like the best way for the current financial mess to go away. He's a Long Island-born Mets fan with enough money that spending $200 million of it to buy a minority stake doesn't seem like a totally crazy move.

    There aren't many people like that kicking around so the chances of a quick resolution to this issue now seem fairly remote. There are other bidders but if someone as financially gifted as Cohen is balking...

    GOOD NEWS: Maybe this is all just a negotiating ploy from a guy who sees weakness on the other side of the table. With attendance down, losses mounting and desperation growing, Cohen might be able to get himself more favorable terms by pulling out for a little while.

    BAD NEWS: This leaves the Wilpons in charge. Yes, they would have been in charge even if the deal was made but there would have been hope for a change in that scenario.

    GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS: The Wilpons owe $25 million to MLB, have a $22 million debt service payment due in June and have the Madoff lawsuit and $70 million in forecast losses hanging over their heads. That's not good for business, but the loss of a quick $200 million might push them closer to selling the team outright.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.