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Mets Hot Stove: A Quiet Monday in Dallas

Mike SteffanosTuesday, December 6, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Sorry to all of you that tried unsuccessfully to visit this blog on Monday evening. Due to some unexplained Blogger glitch we were down for about 5 hours. While this blog was quiet, so were the Mets, as the first day of the winter meetings passed relatively uneventfully.

If you missed our last post before the site went down, we were happy to report that the MetsDaily.com web site was back. Make sure you check out the revamped version of one of the best independent Mets web sites.

Now to the news:

New York Times: A Sense of Accomplishment
Tyler Kepner finds GM Omar Minaya pleased with what he has been able to accomplish to date:

You always try to upgrade your team; you're never there. But the fact that we are on the first day of the winter meetings, our goals were really defined as the closer, the catcher and a power hitter. To be able to be there today and be there with a payroll that's comparable to or right about where we were last year, that's what makes me happy.

Kepner reports that Minaya says it is doubtful that he will acquire a second baseman through free agency or trade, which would contradict a lot of what we've all read lately. Minaya also seems to feel that Lo Duca would be an ideal number two hitter in the Mets' lineup. Can we get a show of hands out there as to how many of you agree that a slow catcher with a low on-base percentage should bat second? I wouldn't be surprised to see Beltran hitting second in 2006, with some combination of Wright, Delgado and Floyd in the 3-4-5 holes, especially if Victor Diaz and/or Xavier Nady can produce in the #6 slot.

Of interest to those of us that would like to see a certain left fielder stay in Boston:

The trade for Lo Duca, Minaya said, could complete the Mets' everyday lineup. He said he was excited about the production the Mets could get from Victor Diaz and Xavier Nady in right field, and he said Cliff Floyd continued to be a good fit in left.

Trading for Ramirez would cost the Mets significantly in payroll and players. Minaya did not rule out increasing the payroll, but he added, "We have a budget, and we're sticking to it."

Wisely enough, Omar feels that the work still to be done is in the bullpen and bench players. If he can avoid lusting after Manny and address these two weaknesses, particularly the bullpen, the Mets should be in good shape in 2006. Of course, an upgrade to the starting pitching wouldn't hurt, either.

Newsday: On a roll
David Lennon of Newsday also reports that Omar, having already accomplished his major to-dos going into the off-season, is now "playing with house money." Despite the claims by many that the Mets are trying to by the National League east, according to Lennon:

By their estimation, the Mets' payroll for next season is roughly at its 2005 level; the 10 players no longer under contract account for more than $30 million, which is what Wagner, Lo Duca and Delgado will make in the coming year... "From a financial standpoint, " Minaya said, "all we've done is replace the money we lost."

Lennon reports that the Mets are still looking for a relief pitcher and a number 3 starter (if they move Benson).

Mets.com: More Omar
Marty Noble also reports on GM Omar Minaya's satisfaction with what has been accomplished to date, and his promise that, "We are not done trying to improve this club." Noble then quotes a source who is a member of the Mets entourage in Dallas that any other moves will not be major ones.

Without saying the words, the source essentially reinforced what several members of the club's hierarchy have said since before Delgado was acquired -- the Mets have next to no interest in acquiring Manny Ramirez in the circumstances that currently exist.

"If they come to us in February," another executive said last week, emphasizing the Red Sox would have to take the initiative, "and they're not asking for [Lastings] Milledge or [Aaron] Heilman, and they're willing to pay some of what [Ramirez] is owed, then we'd listen."

Noble also states that Minaya doesn't seem to be inclined to make a move for a second baseman, quoting him that it was "very doubtful". Noble discusses the possibility of a Kris Benson deal to obtain a setup man or a starter, and reports that attempts to resign last year's eighth inning stalwart Roberto Hernandez aren't going well.

Alan Hendricks, the agent representing Hernandez, said that "three or four" clubs have outbid the Mets at this point, but called New York "the preferred place to be" for his client, a native son. "I hope they're not depending on that," Hendricks said.

Noble also shares that part of the attractiveness of Javier Vazquez to the Mets is due to concerns about Pedro's troublesome big toe.

Fox Sports: Dayn Perry grades the Mets
In his National League off-season report cards, Dayn Perry has awarded Omar and the Mets a "B". Perry's reasoning:

The Delgado addition was excellent, and Wagner, while they overpaid for him, will help in the near term. The Cameron trade, however, was damaging. Lo Duca is fairly overrated, and signing Ramon Hernandez would have been a much better choice.

Personally, I can't really argue with him on any of this, especially Lo Duca. I understand he's a stand-up guy and has made the all-star team a lot (mostly due to a lack of great NL catchers), but I thought a really top pitching prospect was too high a price to pay to save $3 million in salary and a second round draft pick.

The Sporting News: You better get used to hearing this
Writing for The Sporting News, Ken Rosenthal states, "It's official: The Mets have turned into the Yankees." Rosenthal then goes on to repeat what has become a stale refrain:

There isn't a lot of creativity involved with the way the Mets are assembled: Minaya fills holes by overpaying with both cash and prospects, thus overwhelming rival clubs.

A while back we discussed a great Tom Verducci article that clearly demonstrated the Mets were not foolishly overspending. Their payroll will not rise all that dramatically from last year. It's too bad a quality baseball writer like Rosenthal has to cheapen his argument with false overgeneralizations, because he does make some good points in this article, questioning their pitching and the speed that prospects are flying out in trades for aging veterans:

The staff ranked third in the league last season in ERA, but the rotation could feature three relatively old veterans -- Martinez, 34, Tom Glavine, 39, and Steve Trachsel, 35. The bullpen is short on top-notch setup men... This also is a team that could get old quickly, much as the '05 Yankees did... the Mets are trading youngsters and forfeiting draft picks with their free-agent signings -- a dangerous long-term strategy.

What Omar is doing is certainly open to debate -- but let's not cheapen that debate by dragging in exaggerations and half-truths.

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