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Mets Hot Stove: Sunday Brunch

Mike SteffanosSunday, November 20, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

As we head into the week that traditionally signals the start of the Christmas shopping season, the Mets have long finished making their shopping list, and are now in the process of determining who shows up under the tree.

Daily News: Second Base
Anthony McCarron reports that the Mets have shown some interest in Cardinals 2B Mark Grudzielanek, but not surprisingly are placing 2B low on their list of priorities. Billy Wagner and his wife are coming to town on Monday, and the Mets would love for Wagner to make a quick decision. McCarron quotes manager Willie Randolph regarding Wagner:

We'll be speaking to other people after him obviously and he is the real big fish out there more or less. You don't want to negotiate back and forth and have people use you and play off each other. So, yeah, we're going to be real straight and up front and honest about what we want to do and hopefully it'll happen quickly.

It's become obvious to anyone paying attention that much of what the Mets do will hinge on whether or not they sign Billy Wagner. Wagner is doing a masterful job of playing the Mets and Phillies off each other, despite Willie's hopes to the contrary. You'll read something where he says something really complimentary about the Mets; sure enough, there will be something equally complimentary about the Phillies.

McCarron also reports on the catcher situation, quoting one of Bengie Molina's reps Alan Nero:

My understanding is that [Omar is] trying to make a decision and then he'd get back to us for the next step. That next step could be Bengie visiting Shea or an offer, I don't know. It's up to him. My understanding is that he wasn't ready to make an offer yet. There's not much more we can do. I don't think Omar is in a hurry and nor are we.

Once the Mets sign Wagner or whoever is Plan B at closer, the catcher talks will undoubtedly heat up.

New York Post: Mark Sweeney
Michael Morrissey reports that the Mets are one of the teams pursuing Padres' free agent 1B/OF Mark Sweeney. The Mets offer would be somewhere just under $1 million for one year. Excuse me, but if we have that much available for a guy like Sweeney, why couldn't we come up with a second year to keep Marlon Anderson? Am I just being naive here?

Morrissey also reports that Rafael Furcal's agent hopes the Mets make Furcal an offer this week. If I was his agent, I'd be hopeful of the same thing. To me, the only useful thing that could come out of negotiating with Furcal is to drive his price up too high for Atlanta. I have almost as much chance of sleeping with a supermodel as I have of watching Furcal man 2B for the Mets in 2006.

NorthJersey.com: Gee, Billy, I love your cologne
Steve Popper has a good preview of Billy Wagner's upcoming visit. Apparently Wagner will be visiting the NY area homes of Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Carlos Beltran. According to Popper:

The Mets will show Wagner and his family the best that New York and nearby Connecticut have to offer - not just the bright lights of Manhattan that he would have seen as a visiting player, but the areas that will remind him of the country living he grew up in.

For those of us hoping for a quick resolution of this, Popper quotes Wagner's agent, Bean Stringfellow:

Billy is patient. He knows he's going to have a job next year. It doesn't have to drag out for months, but until Billy and his family are comfortable with the contract, the team's ability to compete, where they would be staying - until they are 100 percent on all three - they won't make a decision.

i.e., don't hold your breath.

Mets.com: Yusmeiro Petit.
Finally, Marty Noble offers a feature on Mets' #1 pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit's success in the Venezuelan Winter League. He's pitching to a 2.15 ERA with 53 Ks and only 8 walks in 50.1 innings. Amidst all the controversy of whether Omar will trade away Lastings Milledge; Petit's name is coming up constantly in every trade discussion. It seems inevitable that one or both will be gone at some point.

Noble also provides updates on other Mets winter leaguers: Juan Padilla (not bad), Aaron Heilman (will he be with us next year?), Mike Jacobs (struggling), and Anderson Hernandez (doing well). For those of you that are interested in following the winter league seasons of Mets players, Mets Geek has been doing a nice job of covering this, including updated stats.

It occurs to me that I might have seemed hard on Omar yesterday when I criticized the way the Mets tried to spin the Cameron trade. My only point was that the Mets have a history of doing this and it just aggravates the true fans. If they had just said this trade was attractive because it freed salary for other things they want to do, that would have been fine. Mets management presents such a silly contrast at times; the front office has enough leaks to sink an ocean liner, yet they often insist on spinning things that just don't need to be spun.

There is no doubt, however, that Omar is working his ass off to improve this team, and any real Mets fan -- whether they agree with everything being done or not -- should appreciate that. I'm obviously not huge on free agent signings, but I understand what he's trying to do.

My ultimate hope is that, after this season, Omar's skills in player scouting and development will come to the forefront, and the team will not be as heavily dependent on mercenaries (like Billy Wagner for instance) from other teams to compete for the post-season. You only have to look back to the past to understand the futility of trying to build something that lasts with this approach.

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