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Mets Hot Stove: Younger and More Athletic?

Mike SteffanosFriday, December 9, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

We have determined that there is no truth at all to the rumors that Tim Teufel left his job as manager of the St. Lucie Mets to become a bench player for the big club. Hey, don't laugh -- Teufel, who retired after the 1993 season, is the same age as new Met Julio Franco.

Daily News: A Veteran Presence
Adam Rubin informs us that Omar Minaya felt comfortable giving 47 year old Julio Franco the 2 year contract he wasn't willing to give Marlon Anderson because he felt Franco provides a "better bat" off the bench. Rubin quotes former Brave Tom Glavine on what Franco will bring to the clubhouse:

He's certainly a good example for everyone in terms of working hard and staying in shape. You're not going to get a better example of taking care of yourself. He's a quiet guy, but he commands respect, especially from the Latin American guys. He adds that veteran presence. Those types of personalities are good to have in the clubhouse when you're trying to build a winning mentality.

Rubin notes that although the Mets bench would appear to be complete, a club official told him it was unlikely that both Victor Diaz and Xavier Nady would remain on the team -- not surprising given this signing. Rubin also shares with us the real reason for signing Franco:

With Julio following in the footsteps of John and Matt, the Mets have had every player named Franco in major league history.

Rubin also reports that Mitch Wylie, who the Mets picked up yesterday in the Rule 5 draft, was heading for a big league career until he suffered multiple arm injuries. Minaya restates that he won't bring in another second baseman if he can't move Kaz and at least some of his salary. The Benson deal with KC looks dead, and Aaron Heilman is more likely to remain a Met now that Roberto Hernandez has departed.

Bergen Record: Pitching in
Steve Popper also reports on yesterday's additions. Regarding Rule 5 pickup Mitch Wylie:

Wylie struck out 58 in 66 innings while walking just 15 for Fresno, and Minaya said he has an average-to-plus fastball and a good slider.

Not very scintillating, but remember, the only risk with Wylie is that if the Mets don't keep him on their roster all year they have to offer him back to the Giants at half the $50,000 they paid for him. $25K just isn't that big of an investment.

Popper also tells us that Arizona is under no obligation to include the $3 million per year the Yankees pay for Javier Vazquez' salary to any team that trades for him. At $12 million per year, he might be a little pricy unless he can bounce back. The Mets have a lot of competition for Vazquez. It might come to who's willing to take on the whole salary as well as what teams are willing to give up.

Popper also offers this quote from Omar regarding the loss of Roberto Hernandez:

You've got to remember we brought Hernandez in as a non-roster free agent for $750,000. We feel comfortable that we're going to be able to go scouting and find another Hernandez.

Hope so...

Also in the Record: The Kid is Alright
Steve Popper discusses what the Mets still hope to do now that the winter meetings are over. Among items of interest is on Aaron Heilman, who Popper identifies as possibly the "biggest winner of the meetings for the Mets." He quotes Omar Minaya:

We get hits on him. Anytime you have a guy who's zero to three [years in the major leagues] and produces like he does, you're going to get hits on him.

Heilman was, at the end of the year, definitely the guy who pitched the ninth inning. We feel comfortable if Heilman has to pitch the eighth. Heilman replaced Hernandez as the year went on in that role. We feel comfortable there.

Popper also quotes Omar on 2B Kaz Matsui:

While Matsui is here I'm very doubtful I'll bring in a second baseman. Matsui has ability. When a player has ability - I know things haven't worked out - but you have to look at what has happened. You have to look at the fact that [in his] first year he came in to play short. His offensive numbers his first year were really not that bad. Second year, he got hurt.

I do believe - it's Willie [Randolph's] decision - but I guess Matsui in the two hole to Matsui in the back end [of the batting order] is a little different. He's got ability. The ability is there. To me when I see a guy with ability I'm not scared about it. I understand the expectations of when he came, but he's a pretty good player.

For what it's worth, I can't blame Omar if he doesn't trade Matsui. It seems unlikely that anyone will take much of his salary with him, and it doesn't make sense for the Mets to pay almost all of his salary to play for someone else.

ESPN: What a dick...
Exhibit A for why I didn't want Soriano.

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