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Twelve days until pitchers and catchers report

Mike SteffanosSaturday, February 4, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

The Mets news on this Super Bowl weekend features new Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez, a positive review of the Carlos Delgado trade, and the signing of another Cuban defector.

Mets.com: Duaner Sanchez
Bryan Hoch reports on new Mets setup man Duaner Sanchez. After closing games in LA at the end of last season, Sanchez has no problem returning to a setup role:

That's fine with me. I'm here to do what the manager tells me to do. It doesn't matter if I pitch in the first inning, the fourth, fifth or seventh. I'm here and I'll be in the bullpen when they need me.

Sanchez has enjoyed a pair of solid major league seasons with LA, and Hoch cites Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson that Sanchez is right on the threshold of elevating his game further:

I think Sanchez is ready to take off. I think [when] you look at the experience and career paths of guys and all the factors involved, there's a maturity level.

Very few pitchers break into the big leagues and mature when they're real young. It takes a few years to understand how to gain control and manage games.

NY Sports Day: More Sanchez
Joe McDonald also speaks with Duaner Sanchez, and quotes the new Mets setup man that closing games at the end of last season (he went 8-8 in save opportunities) was valuable experience:

It definitely made me a better reliever. Because I learned how to deal with pressure and that is one place you get it by closing games.

ESPN Insider: The Delgado trade
Jerry Crasnick has a column about significant off-season trades, and he picked the Carlos Delgado acquisition as the most significant. After giving Omar credit for landing one of the few significant 1B bats out there, Crasnick points out the upside:

Delgado, a career .952 OPS guy, radically changes the dynamic in Flushing. He hit 33 homers and ranked third in the NL in slugging percentage last season, despite logging roughly half his at-bats with Juan Encarnacion, Paul Lo Duca and an ineffectual Mike Lowell batting behind him. True, Shea Stadium isn't much fun for hitters. But Delgado's 2005 home-road splits (.283-16-55 at Dolphins Stadium and .318-17-60 on the road) show he's impervious to ballpark dimensions.

The Mets still need Jose Reyes to start thinking more like a leadoff hitter, but the combination of Lo Duca, a healthy Carlos Beltran, Delgado, David Wright and Cliff Floyd in the 2-6 spots gives the Mets reason to hope they'll surpass their total of 722 runs scored.

Crasnick feels the Cubs may have given up more in talent in getting Juan Pierre than the Mets did for Delgado. Much depends on what pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit turns out to be.

New York Post: Another Cuban Defector joins the Mets
Mark Hale reports that the Mets have signed 6'3", 230 pound Cuban first basesman Michel Abreu to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old Abreu was Cuba's home run leader for four straight years before defecting in February 2004. He was under contract with the Red Sox briefly last September, but the contract was voided. Abreu most likely will provide the Mets with insurance in AAA-Norfolk, but could compete for a bench job.

While Jim Duquette was the Mets' GM, he signed another Cuban defector, pitcher Alay Soler. Soler's entry into the U.S. was delayed for a year with visa problems. That was straightened out over the winter, and Soler is expected to compete for a job in spring training.

ESPN Insider: Scouting
Rob Neyer has an interesting article on the art of scouting talent, and how it might evolve in the future.

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