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Franco to mentor Jose Reyes

Mike SteffanosMonday, February 20, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

As more position players role into St. Lucie, at least a few questions will begin to be answered:

Mets.com: Julio Franco
Bryan Hoch has a feature on Mets elder statesman Julio Franco, who arrived in camp today. It is the Mets hope that Franco can serve as an effective mentor to the Mets' younger players. In particular, they hope Franco can convince Jose Reyes to be a more patient hitter in the same manner that he accomplished this with Rafael Furcal with Atlanta. Hoch quotes Reyes on his respect for Franco:

He's great. He's been around a long time in this game. He's going to give a lot of advice about baseball. I'm going to take everything he tells me.

Franco also shares some diet advice with Hoch -- perhaps if you are of an entrepreneurial spirit you can contact Franco about producing a book or video. Hell, I'm the same age as Franco and am a physical wreck in comparison -- I'll buy the damn thing.

Mets.com: Marty's got mail
Marty Noble has the latest installment of his always entertaining Mailbag on-line, answering the astute (and not-so-astute) questions from the Great Unwashed. When asked what he thought of the Mets trying to get Sammy in on a one-year deal, Noble answers:

Among the 116 American League players with 400 or more plate appearances in 2005 -- Sosa had 424 -- he ranked 116th in batting average (.221), 112th in on-base percentage (.295) and 100th in slugging (.376).

And he played his home games at hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Imagine what Shea would do to him?

Let's put a Sosa-Mets marriage to bed.

Honestly, folks, I don't understand the fascination that some have with trying to sign Sammy. You have two young players fighting for that RF job, with the winner conceivably on the upside of a good career. Why inject Sammy into this? Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against him, but like Noble says -- if he can't do it in the Camden Yards bandbox, how's he going to do it at Shea? (And how patient do you think the fans will be with this aging diva?) I'm surprised at how often this Sosa to the Mets idea comes up -- it's just a terrible idea.

Noble had a interesting response to a question about the rotation. It's been pretty obvious since the Benson trade that he's been dubious about Minaya's choice to upgrade the bullpen at the expense of the rotation. He's one of many that liked Heilman more in the bullpen than as a starter. For me, I think if their was a belief in the organization that Heilman could achieve at least comparable success to Benson as a starter, it's the right move. I think it's easier to move a guy back into a relief role from starting than visa versa. As I've said before, seeing how Omar's bullpen gamble plays out will be one of the more interesting story lines of the season.

The Metropolitans: Diaz/Nady
I thought that Mike from The Metropolitans had a good point in his post about the Diaz/Nady battle for RF that I didn't really consider, seeing Nady's primary value as a "supersub" who could play all 3 OF spots and both corner IF spots. He's right, though, when he points out that the Franco signing complicates things by taking away the right-handed 1B ABs.

Amazin' Avenue: Henry Owens
Eric Simon from Amazin' Avenue has another excellent point that I missed in something I wrote about. I'm really intrigued by Henry Ownens, the flamethrower the Mets added to their 40-man roster this winter. As excited as I am about this kid, Simon rightly points out that he hasn't pitched above a high-A level yet. He needs to show something against AA batters this season before we could reasonably expect to see him in New York.

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