By Mike Steffanos
Kris Benson might very well be leaving New York very soon, but it probably won't be in the rumored Jorge Julio deal.
New York Post: Deal Now "Iffy"
In the Post, where Kevin Kernan started all the hoopla, Mark Hale tells us that this deal -- which would have been for Jorge Julio and a "prospect" -- is looking less likely, but other Benson deals are still out there. Hale lists the Giants and Royals as possible destinations, although personally I can't quite picture Anna in K.C. Hale also opines what most feel, that the primary purpose of the deal would have been to clear salary; making room for acquiring a pitcher via trade or free agent signing.
Hale also reports that Ramon Hernandez' agent feels that the free agent catcher will sign with someone (possibly the Mets) before the end of the winter meetings next week. Rafael Furcal's agent says the Mets aren't showing any love, so it is unlikely there will be a shortstop controversy at Shea next year.
NorthJersey.com: Looking for more pitching
Steve Popper also writes about the Mets' efforts to upgrade their pitching staff. Regarding the potential Benson - Julio trade, Popper informs us:
According to one baseball official, the Mets discussed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles that would have sent Kris Benson there for reliever Jorge Julio, but pulled back when other teams began to let it be known that if Benson was available they'd come up with a better offer. [my emphasis]
A Mets official said that while no one is untouchable, Benson's name has never gotten much traction in talks since the GM meetings early last month. "You always want to upgrade, so you keep your ear to the phone," the official said. "But right now there is nothing close."
Popper also quotes Benson's agent Gregg Clifton:
Kris has heard the rumors, but he would love to remain a Met. He made that decision a year ago. The reality is he doesn't want to be traded. He hasn't had a chance to finish what he wants to do on the field - win a World Series - or off the field, doing the charitable work in the community that he's begun.
For what it's worth, my own two cents is that I'd love to see the Mets add at least one premium starter to the rotation, but I'd like to see them try to hold on to Benson, who's been decent and seems to have the potential to be a solid, big game pitcher. I'm not sure that at $7.5 million per year that he is overpaid in this market. If you do move him, however, please bring back more than Jorge Julio and some salary relief.
Daily News: The Manny thing ain't dead yet...
...although I wish it would die. Sam Borden is reporting that Omar is still looking forward to trying to pry Manny Ramirez away from the Red Sox. Borden tells us that, other than Manny himself, the biggest obstacle to the deal now is that:
...several team officials, according to one source, have become more leery of trading top prospect Lastings Milledge. Boston had always received Milledge in previous versions of the proposed blockbuster, but after landing big-ticket players Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner, there is a contingent of Mets brass who would prefer to hold on to the prized outfield prospect.
Let's leave Lastings Milledge alone for a minute. If you read my opinion piece on whether or not the Mets should trade Milledge for Ramirez, I didn't waste a lot of time telling you how great Milledge would be, because no one knows. My feeling here is that the Mets have enough big-money, mid-30s guys on the team already, and they need to hedge their bets and keep financial flexibility by mixing in up and coming young talent -- the "zero to three" guys Omar has been talking about. We don't need to watch all of the stars on the team get old at the same time while the team is hamstrung by their contracts.
In related news, the petition at KeepManny.com now has over 54,000 signatures at the time of this writing. If you are a Mets fan that wishes to see Manny remain in Boston, please join me in signing it.
Don Burke reports that the Mets are negotiating with Octavio Dotel with an eye towards signing him to be a setup man when he returns from his injuries sometime around mid-season. I wouldn't want Dotel as a closer, because he blows as many games as Looper, but as a relatively inexpensive setup option I really like him. He has good stuff, closer experience and he's pitched here. I'm taking no credit for this idea; Vinny from No Joy In Metsville has been pushing the Dotel thing for quite a while.