By Mike Steffanos
The hot stove was really cooking this week, and I for one feel a little burned out by it. I've decided not to let myself get totally swallowed by the hype; the Mets will make Wagner an offer today -- no, wait, not until Wednesday. The Mets are ignoring Ramon Hernandez -- no, Omar and Tony met with him, too. Steve Phillips thinks Wagner will resign with the Phillies and the Mets will sign B.J. Ryan. Thanks, Steve, you didn't know what was going on when you were the Mets' GM, why should I believe you now? (I know, cheap shot. Can't help it.)
Everything you read in speculation and rumor right now. It's all the real news guys have to offer us, and we'll certainly jump on whatever we can get from them. Anyway, out of what's out there, here is what I found interesting:
New York Times: The quest for a catcher
Ben Shpigel has a nice article on the catcher situation. After not seeing Ramon Hernandez' name mentioned in Omar and Tony's meet and greet itinerary I wondered if Hernandez had priced himself out of the Mets' picture. After all, with all the added payroll they will be taking on this off-season you have to wonder if there is room for a "Jason Varitek" type contract for a catcher. However, today Shpigel, among others, reports that Omar and Tony did meet with Hernandez. I've seen enough of Hernandez to like him for the Mets, but I do think the cost might wind up being too high. Stay tuned.
Newsday: More catchers; Who wants Cameron
Ken Davidoff reports on Omar and Tony's road trip, and also lets us know the teams that have expressed the most interest in Mike Cameron so far. The Padres have some decent relief pitchers to swap; with Omar's stated interest in acquiring more than one new arm for the pen I'm sure this bears watching -- and would make sense for both teams.
The New York Post and Daily News also have articles on the catching situation, Wagner, etc. I know that quite a few of you out there are finding this site via search engines, and may not be all that familiar with what's available on the blog front. If you are looking for up-to-the-minute updates on what's cooking out there, check out Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog, which is much more frequently updated than this site.
Random thoughts so far
If this isn't your first visit to this site, you probably know that I'm not a proponent of the Manny to the Mets scenario. I won't go into all of the reasons again, if you are curious about my reasoning please see this post. I will say, however, that if Omar is committed to bringing in either Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano, Manny makes more sense for the Mets. In my opinion, both will have a negative impact on team chemistry and team defense. Both will cost a ton of money -- more than their true value to the team. Although Soriano is a better athlete than Manny, Ramirez is by far the better hitter. And that's the point here, if you make a move strictly to upgrade the offense, why do it with a guy that strikes out too much, doesn't walk and doesn't hit the top pitchers? In my opinion, though I'd prefer to pass on both, a legitimate case can be made for picking up Manny that just can't be made for Soriano.
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If the Mets are absolutely inclined to trade their top prospects like Milledge, and promising young players like Heilman, it can only be because they feel they can compete for a World Series title -- just for a chance to make the playoffs isn't good enough. I'm not convinced they can compete on this level, because I don't think their starting pitching is dominant enough. As it is presently constituted it is pretty good -- good enough to compete for the Division and the wildcard. However, Tom Glavine as your #2 and Kris Benson as your #3 aren't going to beat the best teams.
You probably do have to take a chance on A.J. Burnett, the only dominant free agent pitcher out there. You might have to consider paying a steep price to Oakland for Zito. If you can build a dominant staff you have a much better chance to go anywhere in October. Personally, I would rather go a little slower than this, hold onto Milledge and Heilman and pass on Manny and any other quick fix. But that's just me -- my point is if you decide to go the other way, get serious about it.
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Mike Jacobs: I've gone back and forth on this a little, whether or not the Mets should take a chance on him at 1B in 2006 or chase a more established bat like Overbay. I understand that he isn't setting the world on fire in winter ball, but I think he should have a shot next year. Sign some veteran insurance and make the job his to lose -- you're spending so much money in other places it is worth taking a chance on the one guy that can give you some legitimate production at a reasonable price.