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Mets Hot Stove: We're old, we're bold, get used to us...

Mike SteffanosSaturday, December 10, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

The Julio Franco signing is dominating a slow Mets news day as we all recover from the frenzy of the past two weeks.

Mets.com: Yes, he's old
Marty Noble shares with us Julio Franco's secret of the fountain of youth:

Early in my career, I decided to take care of my body, and it's been paying off.

Marty also imparts some tidbits to prove to us just how old Franco is:

  • His new manager has been retired as a player for 13 years -- yet Franco's first 11 seasons in the Majors (1982-1992) were Randolph's last 11 seasons.

  • Franco made his Major League debut on April 23, 1982, before David Wright (born Dec. 20, 1982) and Jose Reyes (June 11, 1983) were born. Playing for a Phillies team that included Pete Rose, he faced a Cardinals team that included Keith Hernandez and Ken Oberkfell, now the manager of the Mets' Norfolk affiliate.

  • He broke into the big leagues two years before Dwight Gooden, and he still is playing now that Gooden is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration (following the mandatory five-year waiting period for inclusion on the ballot).

  • When Franco played his first game in the Minor Leagues -- for Butte in 1978 -- Pedro Martinez was six years old, Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd were five, and Carlos Beltran was one. And John Franco couldn't vote.

AP: More old guy stuff
Mike Fitzpatrick also tells us about the Mets' new senior citizen, who won't let his age stop him from playing ball. According to Franco:

I think age is a stereotype, I always say that. The only thing that matters is if you can play or you can't.

I don't know, Julio. I had to shovel a 10 inch snowfall this morning, and I have to say that it's proven to me that age is more than a stereotype. Of course, I'm not on the Jesus Juice like you are...

Besides, as far as Franco is concerned, it's not just about baseball. As he told reporters during a conference call from the Dominican Republic:

I don't work out and train and eat like this because I play baseball, I do this because I've got one life to live. When I stop playing baseball, I'm going to continue to do this. I think everybody should take care of their body. It's your best investment.

If this body is my best investment, I am in deep ca-ca.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: More on the Roberto Hernandez signing
Dejan Kovacevic is reporting that the one year deal Roberto Hernandez signed with the Pirates was for $2.75 million. According to Kovacevic:

Four teams pursued Hernandez toward the end, but his decision came down to a most unlikely bidding battle between the Pirates and the New York Yankees, the highest-spending team in professional sports. The Yankees' final offer was for one year at $2.5 million.

Glad Bert isn't going to be wearing pinstripes, but my God -- the Yankees let themselves get outbid by the Pirates? How embarrassing is that? This is a new reality in the Bronx.

New York Times: Still looking for pitching
In a phone interview with the Times' Ben Shpigel, Omar Minaya spoke of what still needs to be done in this remarkable off-season:

Minaya, the Mets' general manager, concedes that his overhaul is nearly complete. But not quite. In a telephone interview yesterday, he said he would spend the rest of the winter focusing on the pitching staff, particularly by adding another starter and filling out the bullpen.

He explored several potential trades at the recently completed winter meetings that would have fulfilled both wishes, but was unable to complete a major move.

Of interest, regarding the potential Kris Benson deals, Shpigel tells us the Mets were "never that close" to getting a deal done with Texas. I find this reassuring, as I thought the proposed deal for Laynce Nix and Juan Dominguez bit the proverbial big one.

Shpigel tells us that Minaya will focus on upgrading a still questionable bullpen:

Still, [Omar Minaya] has said he knows it is more important to continue addressing the bullpen, which is made up of only Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Juan Padilla and, if he does not earn a starting slot, Victor Zambrano.

Wagner is the only left-hander of the bunch, but Minaya said the Mets did not need to acquire another one. The best pitches Heilman and Padilla throw is the changeup, and that neutralizes left-handed hitters. Minaya said he expected the veteran left-hander Matt Perisho, who recently signed a minor league contract, to emerge as an option and, it is hoped, perform as well as Roberto Hernandez did last season.

Notice that no one ever mentions Royce Ring anymore?

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Rangers looking for pitching, too
According to T.R. Sullivan of the Star-Telegram:

The New York Mets, according to major league officials, have told the Rangers they are willing to trade Benson, who has two years and $15 million left on his contract. The Rangers are mulling it over, but aren't willing to do Laynce Nix and pitcher Juan Dominguez in return.

Oh, so they are "mulling it over", are they? This gave me a good laugh. This deal sucks for the Mets, and I tend to believe the Times' Ben Shpigel that the Mets were not close to making this deal. Keep mulling it over boys, we'll keep Benson, at least until someone makes a real offer.

Newark Star-Ledger: Mr. and Mrs. Claus
In another article primarily about Julio Franco, Dan Graziano shares this tidbit:

As a funny side note, [Kris] Benson and his wife, Anna, have agreed to play Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus at a Mets charity event next week. If Benson gets traded before then, however, he plans to cancel the gig.

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