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Mets Hot Stove: An arm for the bullpen, wild Manny rumors

Mike SteffanosWednesday, December 28, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Today's news offers an update to the sad Jeff Reardon story, a report that the Mets are close to signing another bullpen arm, and another Ramirez rumor.

New York Post: Bradford on the way
Joel Sherman of the Post reports that sidewinding right-handed reliever Chad Bradford is close to signing a one-year contract with the Mets. After missing half the season with back surgery in 2005, Bradford wasn't quite as effective as he's been in past years:

When he returned, pitching for the A's and Red Sox, he failed to overwhelm righties as he had in the past. Righties batted .282 against Bradford in 2005 after previously managing to hit just .220.

Nevertheless, Bradford still did not allow a homer to a righty batter, and has permitted just 10 homers in 835 at-bats against righties in his career. However, his funky motion does not deceive lefties, who have hit .319 against him during his career.

Hey, the more the merrier in this year's bullpen quest. He can't be worse than last year's funk, Shingo Takatsu.

New York Times: Reardon update
Charlie Nobles fills us in a little more on the sad, weird Jeff Reardon story. He was released from Palm Beach jail on a $5,000 bond, under house arrest, and with the stipulation that he seeks a mental health evaluation. Using a police affidavit, Nobles describes the incident in detail:

According to a police affidavit, a man later identified as Reardon walked into the Hamilton Jewelers store at the Gardens Mall shortly before noon Monday. He was wearing an all-black outfit and carrying two white garbage bags and a note that indicated he had a gun, but nobody would be harmed if he received cash and jewelry, the affidavit said.

The note was passed to a store associate, Barbara Myer, who later told the police that she had felt threatened and was "in fear." Myer said she told the man that the store did not have much cash, according to the affidavit. She said she put $170 into a green bag marked with a Hamilton logo and handed it to the man.

According to the affidavit, the man also asked for jewelry. But no jewelry was found in the bag.

The man then hurried out the door, with the store's manager, James Silfies, chasing him as store employees called the police.

Lt. David O'Neill and another officer, Sheree Brown, of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, were the first to the scene, about three or four minutes after the robbery was reported.

By then, according to the affidavit, the man had approached a mall security officer, Sanford Berman, who was sitting in a car. He told Berman that he had just robbed Hamilton Jewelers, the affidavit said. Berman told the police that he asked the man if he had a gun and that the answer was no. As the man handed over the Hamilton bag, the police arrived, according to the affidavit.

When the man was being handcuffed near a curb outside a restaurant at the mall, O'Neill said that he confessed, saying: " 'I completely lost my mind and tried to rob jewelry store. I flipped on my medications and didn't realize what I was doing.' "

Reardon's attorney, Mitchell J. Beers, seems to be laying the groundwork for a defense based on an interaction between antidepressants Reardon has been on since his son's overdose death 2 years ago with some new medication Reardon has been taking since undergoing angioplasty Friday.

Gotham Baseball: Manny Rumors
Mark Healy is citing "Multiple independent baseball sources" that a four team deal is in the works that would (be still my heart!) land Manny Ramirez on the Mets. According to Mark Healy:

We've been able to piece together some aspects of the deal, but they are subject to change as the teams continue to communicate with one other.

Mets would send Heilman and Matsui (and $5 million) to Tampa Bay for Lugo. Then New York would send Lugo, Kris Benson, Brian Bannister and Victor Diaz to Baltimore for Tejada, and then send Tejada to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez.

For example:

Mets would get Manny Ramirez
O's would get Lugo, Benson, Bannister, Diaz
Red Sox would get Tejada
Devil Rays would get Heilman and Matsui

Nothing's close, but "these are the kind of deals that either fall apart immediately, or take until the spring to complete."

Nice weasily wording of that last sentence, Mr. Healy. A couple of things here. First, this column is labeled "The Rumor Mill", which means anything that's even discussed is fair game, but a reader should be careful as to what they are willing to swallow. Second, almost any Manny rumor is sure to send my stomach acid churning at this point. But let's look at this more closely.

In this deal, the Mets are losing Aaron Heilman, Kaz Matsui, Kris Benson, Victor Diaz, and Brian Bannister, the top pitching prospect left in the organization. They're also paying out $5 million in cash. They're getting back Manny Ramirez.

With Benson's and Matsui's contracts gone, the Mets payroll isn't going up by more than a few million, so that part makes some sense. My God, though, is there anyone out there, including Mr. Healy, that believes the players mentioned make sense for the Mets?

Losing Heilman from the bullpen, even if they sign the unstable Julian Tavarez, would be almost impossible to replace at this point -- which is why the Mets haven't moved him in any deal up to now. Matsui is no loss, but Benson is still the third best pitcher on a team that isn't sure if their ace is going to be healthy to start the season. Victor Diaz is a very promising young, cheap player. Brian Bannister is the only Mets' pitching prospect close to the majors -- discounting Alay Soler, who we need to remember hasn't thrown a pitch in this country yet.

When you look at the individual components of this trade, both the Mets and the Devil Rays look like losers in this deal. If the Rays are inclined to deal Lugo, they should be able to get more than Heilman and Matsui for him. The Mets are by far the biggest losers here, however; giving up a ton, in both pitching and cheap young talent, for one aging, defensively lacking slugger. Rumors are meant to be read for entertainment, I guess, but I'd question Omar's sanity if anything close to this deal happened.

Note: I found the link to the previous story in MetsBlog.

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