While New York’s National League entry continues to squander David Wright and Matt Harvey’s best efforts while charging fans major league prices for a (poor) minor league product, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon visited Binghamton, NY this week, telling those covering the Mets’ Eastern Affiliate that “There’s a plan… you can’t change the plan every year. OK? Sandy, it’s taken him two or three years to get the plan into effect, and we have to wait and see it out.” If all that sounds rather vague, don’t worry, because Capital New York’s Howard Megdal — one of the more dedicated bullshit detector when it comes to Wilpon Family Fibs — is quite willing to do the (grim) math for you.
Mets’ ownership is still financing an enormous debt load, took another $160 million in loans against their S.N.Y. ownership stake last winter, all part of their year-by-year effort to keep the ball in the air. They owe $320 million in a loan against the team, due in June 2014. And their debt total against S.N.Y., including the new loans last winter, are up over $600 million, and due in 2015.
Getting their creditors to sign off on major new outlays of money isn’t easy. JP Morgan Chase objected to the proposed deal with David Einhorn back in the summer of 2011 at first, because the original Einhorn-Mets deal put Einhorn in line among Wilpon creditors ahead of the team loan. And the same need to keep J.P. Morgan Chase happy led to the heavily deferred contract with David Wright, signed last winter, actually reducing the amount the Mets owed Wright between the date it was signed and the June 2014 due date for the team loan. It is unlikely the Wilpon and his partners would have been allowed to make the offer otherwise.
They have less than a year to either find a way to pay J.P. Morgan Chase $320 million, or convince the bank to give them more time. And they’ll have to do so with more than just a Fred Wilpon press conference sunnily declaring his money problems a thing of the past. If the bank believes, unlike Standard and Poor’s, that the Mets are on the cusp of profitability, or that a forced sale now will produce less revenue than giving ownership more time, then a stay of execution is possible.
While all of this is resolved, one way or another, 29 other teams, flush with new television money that will put an additional $50 million in their coffers in 2014, but without the need to go through a Queen of Versailles-style gauntlet to spend, can also bid on Shin-Soo Choo and other free agents.