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Mets Hot Stove: The second coming of Armando

Mike SteffanosThursday, December 1, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Despite the ugly ending when a former Oriole reliever came to Shea several years ago, it might be happening again.

New York Post: Jorge Julio?
Kevin Kernan reports that the Mets and Orioles are talking a Kris Benson for Jorge Julio swap. I'm getting the impression that the Mets have really soured on Benson as a pitcher. Kernan has a confirming source on this deal, so it would seem to be more than just smoke.

Julio was a guy that the O's were really high on at one time for their closer role. The fact that they would deal him for a starter after losing B.J. Ryan kind of worries me here, although I understand they are desperate to upgrade their starters. Maybe Duke has a thing for Anna and wants her close again.

A friend of mine from Baltimore says about Julio, "Think Armando Benitez, with less talent." Not a ringing endorsement from my point of view. I liked the way Benson pitched in big games early in the year. His late season collapse was a red flag, although there were rumors of shoulder problems. This is a deal I don't love, but I'm going to have to trust Omar on this.

Newsday: Catcher shopping in Dallas
Now that we picked a bopper and a closer in the same week, Omar Minaya can turn his attention to getting a catcher at the winter meetings next week. David Lennon also tells us that a starting pitcher and a shiny new second baseman are on the Christmas list. Sadly, Lennon reports that Manny Ramirez is also on the agenda. (Don't want him? Sign the petition.)

Lennon reports that in discussions with Tampa Bay about Toby Hall, they're looking for Aaron Heilman in return. Hope Omar is telling them to keep looking. BTW, of interest to those of us that don't know much about him, Ricardo Gonzalez at Mets Geek looks at Toby Hall and doesn't like what he sees. As for Heilman, what a difference a year makes. Last year, the Mets shopped him and couldn't give him away.

NorthJersey.com: More Catcher Stuff
Steve Popper also looks at the catching situation, reporting that the offers made to Molina and Hernandez were approx. 3 years/$24 million. Omar is also talking about finding more of those magical "zero to three guys" -- rookies in their first 3 years making the minimum. He's not going to find many in the farm system close to the bigs at this point.

NBC Sports: You'll be hearing this a lot
Mike Celizic feels that the Mets overpaid Wagner, but they bought a division title by signing him. He points out that the Mets finished 7 games behind the Braves last season, with Looper blowing 8 saves in 36 chances and the rest of the pen contributing 13 more blown saves.

Of course, Celizic points out that it's not likely that Wagner will stay healthy and productive until he is 39 and the contract runs out. Maybe by the time Wagner starts burning out the Mets can figure out how to develop a closer in their own minor league system, and they won't have to by another expensive closer while they're still paying Wagner.

My 71 year old mother told me that Mike and the Mad Dog were talking a l0t this afternoon about how the Mets are more or less buying a division title and Omar is just doing it by writing the big checks, blah, blah, blah. I convinced my Mom that she shouldn't care what MATMD think, and should stop hanging out with such a bad element. They're just disappointed because they might not have the Mets to kick around anymore in the manner of their memorable performance on opening day last year.

As for me, I stopped listening to those guys regularly back then and honestly don't care what they say. I wasn't all hung up on what the Yanks were doing or what Yankee fans thought when the Mets sucked, and I care even less now. Mets fans, when they hate you the most, the team is doing things right.

Fox Sports: Molina and Hernandez
Ken Rosenthal speculates that, after losing out on Paul Konerko, the Angels could be looking more seriously at Manny Ramirez. It would make sense, but just in case don't forget to sign the petition.

Daily News: Piazza
Sam Borden reports that Angels have expressed more interest in Mike Piazza after losing out on Konerko.

AP: Gimme the ball
Finally, the Red Sox and Doug Mientkiewicz just can't seem to play nice with the infamous ball.

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