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Mets Hot Stove: an "upgrade" to Kaz isn't worth the cost

Mike SteffanosSaturday, December 17, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

In our Saturday news roundup, we question why we would give up anything for a decent second baseman, enjoy profiles of a couple of guys that may mean a great deal to the Mets' future, and continue to look for bullpen help.

New York Post: Blame it on Kaz
George King tells us that the Mets' failure to sign Mark Grudzielanek is all Kaz Matsui's fault. They weren't able to sign Grudzielanek, who wanted to come here, because there were no takers out there for Kaz' bloated contract. (Personally, I tend to hold the Mets accountable for over-valuing Matsui when they signed him, but maybe that's just me.) King tells us that free agent Tony Graffanino is still a possibility, if they can find a taker for Kaz. Tampa Bay and San Diego have shown some interest.

ESPN: Bad idea
Buster Olney thinks that signing Graffanino maybe wouldn't be worth it:

Mark Grudzielanek spurned the Mets in part because he wants to know, for sure, that Kaz Matsui will be traded. Now the Mets will talk with Tony Graffanino. A non-rhetorical question for Mets fans (and others, too): Would Graffanino be such an upgrade over Matsui that you would be willing to give up a draft pick to get him? (The Red Sox have offered him arbitration). Just curious to see what others thought.

Well, let's see. Graffanino is an okay ballplayer. The Mets would have to pay -- like 90% of Matsui's contract to move him. We've already lost our first round pick for Wagner, now we'd have to give up our second round pick for Graffanino. I vote no.

Look, all kidding aside, the Mets have several other options if Matsui fails: Chris Woodward, Jose Valentin, Anderson Hernandez, and Jeff Keppinger. Grudzielanek would have been a luxury; to me Graffanino is a waste. This is Matsui's last year, I'm comfortable with giving him one more shot to be the offensive player he was in much of 2004, and then kissing him goodbye. The Mets have more pressing things to worry about than their number eight hitter.

Mets.com: Alay Solar doing well in winter ball
Kevin Czerwinski reports on 26 year old Cuban pitcher Alay Solar, whose debut with the Mets has been delayed for a year over visa problems. Pitching for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Solar has looked sharp, having not allowed a run in 14 innings; amazing considering he hasn't pitched much in the past year. Czerwinski quotes Solar on his progress so far:

I feel good, but it still feels like I have a little bit more to go until I'm 100 percent. It's not injuries or anything like that. I just haven't pitched in a while. I'm still fine tuning everything. Everything is starting to take off the way it's supposed to, though.

I didn't feel I'd be this effective coming in here, but I'm working hard and everything is now falling into place little by little. I'm effective and that's all that counts. I hope the club takes that into consideration for next [2006] season.

Solar has been a starting pitcher with the Cuban team, and the prevailing thought seems to be he'll pitch as a starter in the minors next year. However, there is a possibility, if he pitches well enough in the spring, he might make the team as a reliever. Either way, Solar says he just wants to pitch:

I'm not worried about it. I know I have to work hard to earn a spot. Everyone is there for one reason and that's to help the team. Whatever role I have, that's what I'll do to help the team.

Solar is planning to arrive in St. Lucie in late January to get an early start on pursuing his big-league dreams. Given the pitching talent the Mets traded away this winter, he can be an important part of the Mets' future.

Also on Mets.com: The second baseman of the future?
Marty Noble profiles Anderson Hernandez, the prospect with a legitimate shot at contributing to the Mets in 2006. The slick fielding infielder, who will be in the mix for the second base job, has been solid in winter ball for Licey in the Dominican Republic, batting .298 in 141 ABs.

Noble reports that Aaron Heilman, also playing for Licey, has been impressive, compiling a 4-1 record and a 2.27 ERA in six starts and 31 2/3 innings.

Daily News: Give me your old, your tired...
Adam Rubin reports that left handed pitcher Darren Oliver, who retired after a short stint in the minors last season, has agreed to come to spring training on a minor-league contract. This is part of Omar's strategy to invite a bunch of arms to spring training in a search for this year's Roberto Hernandez. Not a bad idea, really; the danger here, of course, is if no one worthwhile turn up.

New York Times: The David Wright Foundation
In an article that was primarily about the silly Mientkiewicz/Red Sox ball dispute going to arbitration, Michael Schmidt reports on last night's David Wright Foundation fund-raising dinner. Wright hoped to raise $50,000 to aid in the fight against multiple sclerosis, a disease that afflicts his agent's wife.

Schmidt offers the following quote from Cliff Floyd, who attended last night's dinner:

He knows there is more to life then baseball and an affair like this is tremendous for someone at his age. He is a veteran now. I am not going to ask him to carry my bags anymore.

Boston Globe: Ortiz trying to talk Manny into staying
Nick Cafardo reports that David Ortiz is working behind the scenes, trying to convince Manny Ramirez to stay in Boston. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, Big Papi.

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