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Marty Noble Looks at Next Week's Winter Meetings

Mike SteffanosSaturday, December 3, 2005
By Mike Steffanos


There have been a pair of new Marty Noble articles posted to Mets.com previewing MLB's Winter Meetings in Dallas that begin Monday:

Several needs remain for active Mets

Mets Winter Meetings checklist

According to Marty:

Look for general manager Omar Minaya to try to reinforce the bullpen, deal for a second baseman, find a left-handed-hitting catcher and a left-handed-hitting reserve outfielder, and upgrade the back of the rotation.

Noble seems to think that the Mets are more likely to get a catcher to share the catching duties with Ramon Castro, which would seem to argue against signing either Hernandez or Molina. He also mentions Omar will be seeking a left-handed specialist reliever.

Regarding Manny Ramirez:

He isn't off the Mets' wish list, but he is well down the list. The Mets will wait for the Red Sox to come calling, and if they do, the Mets won't be listening if the Sox ask about Lastings Milledge or Aaron Heilman.

According to Noble, neither Heilman nor Milledge are likely to go anywhere:

Not only are the Mets opposed to dealing Millege or Heilman, but they also can't afford to move either one. Milledge is the team's primary prospect and the player most likely to replace Cliff Floyd if Floyd's tenure with the Mets ends when his contract expires after the 2006 season. The Mets can't strip their Minor Leagues completely of genuine prospects. [my emphasis]

And Heilman stands behind only Wagner as the team's most valuable reliever, the setup man most effective against left-handed hitting.

Noble believes it's possible that Kris Benson could be shipped to the Diamondbacks in return for Javier Vazquez. He feels that Steve Trachsel, who has 10 and 5 trade veto rights and wants to stay in New York.

Personally, with the needs they still have to fill in their bullpen, I find it hard to believe that the Mets would waste any chips to address the second base situation. They should just go cheap there and try to concentrate on the bullpen. Resigning Roberto Hernandez would be a good start, but his agent has to be salivating over the contracts some of these relievers are getting. You would think there are plenty of teams out there that would look at Hernandez as a decent, cheap (at least in comparison) option for closer. Perhaps Alay Soler, the Cuban pitcher that finally received a visa this year, might make it up to the big club at some point this summer and help out the bullpen.

As far as the rotation goes, I wish they could find a way to get another quality starter while keeping Benson and moving Zambrano, Trachsel or both. I just think he's appreciably better than the other two, and would hate to see them go with the budget option. I reiterate that in a market where Paul Byrd will be signing for close to $7 million per year, Benson is not drastically overpaid at $7.5 million per year. Save money somewhere else -- starting pitching is too important.

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