How Much Damage Has Bernie Madoff Done the Mets?

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Disgruntled New York Mets fans have a new target for their frustration: Bernie Madoff.

A lawsuit brought by the trustee for victims of Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme has shed new light on the close relationship between Madoff and Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

The trustee, Irving H. Picard, is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from Wilpon and his brother-in-law, Saul Katz, and claims that the two men knew or should have known that Madoff was defrauding investors. The baseball club invested deferred money from long-term player contracts with Madoff's firm and involved Madoff in other areas of its financial operations, according to the New York Times. The Mets are exploring selling a minority stake in the team to generate the funds necessary for a potential settlement with Picard.

What do the revelations mean for Mets fans?

Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann says the damage could be extensive if the lawsuit is successful, noting that the Mets had the fifth-highest payroll in Major League Baseball in 2010:

Considering that Wilpon pays the Mets' salaries, his financial wherewithal, and that of any other Mets' owners, are matters of great significance for Mets players. While the league could provide the Mets with financial assistance if need be (or go a step further and take over control of the franchise, as occurred with the Texas Rangers last season), a financially-capable Mets ownership would prove the best outcome for all considered.

How the Mets approach this coming offseason will be telling, argues Brian Costa at The Wall Street Journal. He recommends keeping an eye on whether the Mets trade star shortstop Jose Reyes. "If the Mets let him sign with another team, even if they cite baseball reasons, it will be viewed as a sign of financial weakness," Costa says.

The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay, meanwhile, has some fun imagining how the Mets might cut costs. Here are some of the consequences he foresees:

Mets pitchers will only throw strikes for two innings. NOTE: This policy is unchanged from last season.

There will be an additional $15 surcharge leaving the gate for all Mets wins. There will be an $180 surcharge if Oliver Perez gets the win.

Mets games will no longer be on TV or the radio. Instead, Steve Somers of WFAN will phone you on a land line and explain what's going on.

One night, when they least expect it, the Mets are totally going to mug the Yankees

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