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Mets Hot Stove: Let the Winter Meetings Begin

Mike SteffanosMonday, December 5, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

As if Mets fans need any more excitement, the winter meetings in Dallas have started this morning.

Newsday: The Lo Duca Trade
According to David Lennon, Paul Lo Duca was hoping to be traded to Arizona, where he lives; but instead was traded to New York, where he had been born.

My uncle cried this morning. Everyone is so excited. It's exciting because my family wanted me to [be traded] to Arizona, but the second-best place was to go to New York.

According to Lennon, the $1-2 million per year saved by acquiring Lo Duca will be put to use by GM Omar Minaya:

Minaya is not done renovating the Mets either, and saving a few million on this deal could factor into his trade discussions this week for Manny Ramirez and a starting pitcher, perhaps Barry Zito or Javier Vazquez. The Mets already have absorbed the $48 million left on Delgado's contract -- minus the $7-million payout from the Marlins -- and signed Billy Wagner to a four-year, $43-million contract.

While most teams probably would call it quits after those two blockbuster deals, Minaya seems to be warming up. Just as he traded Mike Cameron to the Padres for Xavier Nady to clear salary, Minaya also is looking to move Kris Benson, who has two seasons left on the three-year, $22.5-million contract he signed last year, and the Mets still want a new second baseman, with Mark Grudzielanek the top choice.

New York Post: More Lo Duca
Michael Morrissey points out that one of the reasons the Mets made the Lo Duca trade was because they didn't want to give up Aaron Heilman to the Devil Rays for catcher Toby Hall. As Morrissey points out, with the trade of Gaby Hernandez, the Mets' #3 rated prospect by Baseball America, the Mets farmy system has taken another hit.

The Mets have now traded three of their top four prospects, as righty Yusmeiro Petit (BA's No. 2 ranked prospect) and first baseman Mike Jacobs (BA's No. 4) were shipped to Florida in the Carlos Delgado deal.

Morrissey quotes a team source that #1 prospect Lastings Milledge is "highly unlikely" to be traded, as is pitcher Aaron Heilman, although it remains to be seen if Omar can resist the temptation to use them in a Manny Ramirez trade.

Daily News: Lo Duca on coming to the Mets
Bill Madden, who broke this story yesterday, offers the following quote from Lo Duca on being a Met:

I'm excited. It's a team I grew up liking. They were my favorite team and I respect Mr. (Fred) Wilpon, and I respect Omar and Willie Randolph. They've put together a great ballclub. It's exciting to go to New York.

Bergen Record: Shopping the bargain aisle
Steve Popper quotes GM Omar Minaya that the Mets are not done in their wheeling and dealing:

We are still under last year's budget. We had a lot of dollars come off. We have a budget. We're staying within that budget. It's about being creative.

As Popper points out, that creativity will keep Omar chasing Manny, a second baseman, and both starting an relief pitching this week.

Daily News: The Anna Benson "Controversy"
Adam Rubin has a piece on that wild and crazy baseball wife that is allegedly responsible for putting her husband on the trading block. Only the Mets could make an issue of something so silly.

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