By Mike Steffanos
Baseball's winter meetings begin tomorrow in Dallas with the Mets expected to be a major player. With Omar Minaya seemingly committed to getting the major moves out of the way early, you have a feeling that this week could well be the climax of the hot stove season in Flushing. We begin with another report of a trade that was originally reported by Ben Shpigel of the Times last night.
New York Post: Still Talking Paul Lo Duca
Mark Hale quotes a major league source that the Mets are close to a deal for Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca for a "prospect". Hale could not find out the identity of the prospect, but feels fairly safe in stating that it's not Lastings Milledge. (Could you imagine the fallout from that one?)
Hale also cites an industry source that Mark Grudzielanek appears to be the top choice for the 2B job, with some interest in Tony Graffanino and D'Angelo Jimenez.
Newark Star-Ledger: Omar and Manny: A Love Story
Don Burke reports on Omar's year-long pursuit to land the star of his dreams. But, as Burke reports, obtaining the elusive object of your heart's desire is seldom easy:
Previous discussions with the Red Sox, including a serious flirtation just before the July 31st trading deadline, always have centered around outfielder Lastings Milledge, the crown jewel of the Mets farm system. And the Mets brass is divided on whether to part with a 20-year-old who possesses that kind of potential.
Burke quotes a member of the Mets front office:
We're going to be talking to them. We've been at this for a while now. When you have this kind of money involved and them not having a GM yet, there's no way to predict what might happen... In the past, what they've asked for has been considerable. We've never progressed too far so we'll see.
I'd point out that Lastings Milledge is not only the "crown jewel" of the Mets' farm system, he's the only player of real value close to the major leagues that is left with the departures of Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit in the Delgado deal. IF Jeff Keppinger, P Brian Bannister and IF Anderson Hernandez are considered more marginal prospects. Especially with the addition of Delgado to the lineup, I would absolutely question giving up your last big chip in anything less than a deal to acquire a really top-line young pitcher.
Bergen Record: More Manny Mania
In an interesting twist to the Ramirez saga, Bob Klapisch reports that the Red Sox have hired a secret weapon to try to keep Manny in Boston. Klap reports that the Sox have retained the services of sports psychologist Don Kalkstein, and that the first order of business on his couch will be none other than the prima donna RBI Machine:
Can Ramirez actually be coaxed out of demanding a trade by someone who specializes in performance enhancement? It's a gamble, considering Manny's friends say his unhappiness has nothing to do with playing for the Sox. Instead, it's a lack of privacy in greater Boston, as well as family issues, that have soured him.
Still, the Sox figure it's worth a shot, especially if the field of suitors, which has swelled to five teams, thins out.
Only Klapisch brings you this kind of story, that's why he's the best. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Dr. Kalkstein can succeed in keeping Manny in Boston.
Daily News: A deeper look at Carlos Delgado
Christian Red offers a much different look at Carlos Delgado; one that goes beyond the endlessly discussed God Bless America "controversy" and takes an interesting look at the man himself. Rather than try to pull a few quotes out of this article, I encourage all Mets fans to read it. Kudos to both Christian Red and the Daily News. This is a wonderful character piece of the depth and quality that you just don't see in sports pages anymore.
Oh, by the way, we're not anti-Omar
I feel compelled to state this, due to the numbers of emails that I received this week "agreeing with me" that Omar is doing a bad job as GM. As much as I enjoy being agreed with -- God knows my Lisa never agrees with me -- it's a misconception. I don't agree with all of Omar's moves, but I think he's doing a great job. There is solid baseball logic to every move he has made this off-season. I wouldn't have done everything that he's done so far, but that's not the point.
Some people want to judge Omar for deals that he allegedly wanted to make, like last year's Cliff Floyd for Sammy Sosa rumors. I think I'm going to stick with evaluating him on the things he does do. I don't move in the circles of upper tier Mets management, so I don't have enough facts to decide which rumors are true and which aren't.
If Omar pulls the trigger on a Manny deal I'll judge him for what he gives up and how much contractual obligations he takes on. If the deal doesn't get done, and then rumors fly again about how Omar was "talked out" of something disastrous, I'm not going to care. It's tough enough in life to be judged on what you actually do, to be judged on what someone says you were thinking is just plain bulls--t.