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Mets Hot Stove: This is nuts, but it sure is fun

Mike SteffanosFriday, December 2, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

I've been a Mets fan since 1969, and there has never been a hot stove season anything like this for the Flushing 9. Two huge press conferences in two days, and now a trade reported as fact that wasn't.

It was reported in the Post this morning as in the final stages, then reported on MSG's web site as a done deal -- oops, maybe not.

Newsday: Benson for sale
David Lennon has an article posted on Newsday's web site at 10:37 PM that confirms that the Julio - Benson deal was discussed, but isn't imminent. According to Lennon:

The talks were described as hotter than most, but the Mets may intend to see what else they could attract for Benson, who signed a three-year, $22.5-million extension before last season.

There is some speculation here on whether Omar is just looking to move Benson's $7.5 million per year salary to make room for Javier Vazquez or someone else. Lennon mentions that Steve Trachsel's $2.5 million salary is a bargain in comparison. For me, I'm not sure that in the current market what Benson is making is all that outrageous. I've made the point previously that Benson pitched well in big games and seems to be improving under Peterson's tutelage. Bargain or not, I'd rather see Trachsel go. I just think Benson is a better pitcher, and I was under the assumption the goal is to win this year.

It does seem that the Mets will do something to improve their rotation next week at the winter meetings. Lennon quotes a baseball official regarding what Omar & company might do:

Don't be shocked by anything that goes down at the winter meetings. There's been a lot of groundwork.

Washington Post: Overblown
Jorge Arangure Jr. in the Washington Post cites an Orioles official regarding the rumors of the Benson - Julio trade that the Mets appear to be walking away from the deal, and calls the rumors, "overblown".

Baltimore Sun: Flanagan says it isn't so
In response to the published reports of the Kris Benson/Jorge Julio deal, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun quotes Orioles Executive VP Mike Flanagan:

It's a rumor really. Obviously, we have talked to them, but we have talked to a lot of other teams as well.

The article goes on to state that the Orioles would like to see if new pitching coach Leo Mazzone can straighten out Julio. Now, this is the kind of stuff that you always hear before a trade goes down, but right now the Orioles really don't have anyone else with closer experience.

ESPN: Olney doesn't get it, either
I no that I'm not supposed to like Buster Olney, but he says the Benson trade makes no sense to him, either.

Fox Sports: Flash a Phil
Ken Rosenthal broke the news that Tom Gordon has signed a 3 year / $18 million deal to be the Phillies' new closer. If it was crazy for the Mets to sign the 34 year old Wagner for 4 years, how nuts is it to sign the 38 year old Gordon for 3?

New York Times: Mr. Versatility
Ben Shpigel has a really nice piece in the Times about Aaron Heilman. He reports that Heilman went 4-1 with a 2.27 in winter ball, and the fact that he did it as a starter only makes it more intriguing what role he might be filling for the Mets in 2006. This kid has really found himself, and he has a lot to offer a team that has made some big-ticket additions and needs to complement them with good, cheap young players. It's a wonder to me that so many are so eager to ship him out.

Shpigel also offers the following on the rumored Benson - Julio deal:

...a Mets official yesterday played down the notion that a trade was imminent between the Mets and the Orioles, noting that Baltimore had contacted the Mets about Benson and that the Mets would want more than just Julio in a deal for Benson. The official, who was granted anonymity because he did not want to discuss publicly a player who was still on the Mets roster, did not discount the possibility that a trade could eventually occur. [my emphasis]

That sounds a lot better to me than what was being thrown around earlier. I'm not saying that I can't see any scenario where it would make sense to move Benson, I just don't want the Mets to give him away. Even if the Mets pick up someone like Vazquez to be their third starter, I'd like Benson for the #4 -- especially with 2 old guys holding down the top 2 slots in the rotation. We'll see.

A little respect, please
One thing that we try hard to do here is have some respect for the point of view of Mets fans that don't agree with us. Unfortunately, there is an element out there that seems to be going out of their way to trivialize the views of those of us that believe the Mets need to depend upon their farm system to succeed on a long-term basis. Indeed, in some circles the word "prospect" seems to have become a dirty word.

I'm tired of hearing you repeat all of the same clichés, and I'm tired of the smug, self-important way that you oversimplify and marginalize our argument. We're all Mets fans that care. Maybe you could appreciate the fact that intelligent differences of opinion are what make this fun. If not, please kiss my ass. Thanks.

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