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Off The Deep End

Mike SteffanosWednesday, July 26, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


In something that I'm sure will become much more common over the next few days before the deadline, SI.com's John Heyman holds a gun to Omar's head and tells him that he must trade every chip he has to acquire the Marlin's Dontrelle Willis. Heyman's deal starts with Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman and Phil Humber (2004's first round pick who seems to be recovering nicely from Tommy John surgery). Everyone is going to rightly point out that the Mets don't have enough starting pitching to win the World Series, and that this year will be a total flop if the Mets don't win a championship.

This is the type of "go for it now, let the future be damned" thinking that has made this team the laughingstock of baseball for most of the 1990s and the first few years of this decade. While I understand the lure of getting Willis, I think the Marlins would want more than Heyman is offering here. They are going to get a lot of heat from MLB and their own fan base if they trade Willis, and the deal would have to be a no-brainer. Still, I'm sure that Heyman and some others would gladly give up Pelfrey and anyone else it might take. You might be able to justify a deal like this if Willis was the last piece of the puzzle, but the way Glavine has been pitching for a significant chunk of the season, and with questions about Pedro's health, you might have to land Willis and Zito to have a real shot at a championship.

Everyone seems to be telling me that we have to go for it this year because Pedro and Glavine aren't getting any younger, and neither are Wagner and Delgado. As for me, I think the really important core of this team is young, and I think they have some really promising young pitchers that maybe -- crazy thought here -- they can actually develop themselves. You see, I care about this year, but I care about next year, too, and the one after that, and the one after that...

I'm a Mets fan, and I'm going to be one for as long as God lets me hang around on the planet. What I'd like to see is some big picture thinking. Omar has talked about weighing the needs of the present with the needs of the future. That seems sensible to me. While I'm not against trying to get some help this year, I'd like to root for a team that doesn't wind up like the 2003 Mets -- stuck in a gloomy rebuilding year, but lacking any real quality minor-leaguers to bring up and hold out the hope of a brighter future.

I know it's hard to be disciplined and develop your own prospects, particularly pitchers, because so many of them don't pan out for so many different reasons. But the only way the Mets are ever going to have quality in their own system is to grow up a little, put off the instant gratification, and have enough of these guys down there for the numbers to work in your favor. Every proposed trade that favors trading 3 or 4 of your young players works against this. People tell me don't worry, we got this guy and that guy at A-ball to take their places. Yeah, and those are the guys you'll want to trade next year and the year after that.

Some people tell me it's not practical to expect large market teams to develop their own players. Someone must have forgotten to tell the Red Sox, because their young pitchers have actually kept them competitive in what the team admitted was somewhat of a rebuilding year. Look, I respect those of you that would gladly trade kids to have a chance of wining now, I just personally wish the Mets would go a different way.

Mets Daily: Minaya's Thinking
John Strubel has posted some audio clips from Omar's appearance during yesterday's game with the Cubs. Scroll down the page to the heading "Audio: Minaya on trade deadline".

NY Sports Day: Endy
Joe McDonald profiles the Mets terrific fourth outfielder.

Metsblog: Olney on Zito
Matt has an audio interview with ESPN's Buster Olney regarding what it would take for the Mets to land Barry Zito.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (8)

Ok Mike - I'm going to go back a little on what I've commented on earlier. I get worried when I read about potential deals where we'd give up on too many young players for the sake of winning it all this year.

Why do so many people feel our best shot at winning a WS comes with Pedro & Glavine as co-aces? What happened to "in Omar we trust"? We've got the young core - Omar will get the 2 quality starters we need for next year (this winter).

IMO, Heyman's WAY too enthusiastic about giving up the farm. You said it best, let's develop the young pitchers we have. Look how strong Humber's been - should we really give that up (plus 3 others) in a reckless shot at being top dog this year?

I don't want a championship this year if it hurts our chances of having a dynasty.

Hi Mike- I don't understand why ownership of sports teams feel hat New Yorkers want instant gratification and and an instant championship.
Met fans have waited 20 years already to date, I'm willing to wait another year or two. I personally like seeing a progression. I remember how I felt back in 1984, as I'm sure you do too. 1984 was really a turning point and pretty exiting, 1985 was even more so, and 1986 was the be all end all.
It's the same with the NY Rangers-just give us a competitive team to watch that builds from within. Nevermind getting middle aged superstars-I don't want to win one world series and then go to crap for another few years, as Glavine Pedro and Delgado deteriorate before our eyes. I'd like a nice couple of seasons at least being in the play offs.
They are in a position right now where they don't have to be desperate and stupid, if they can't get Willis for a what they would consider a fair trade, lets see what Pelfrey has to offer, as well as Bannister when he gets back and Maine has looked good so far in his last two starts. I'm not screaming we have our big three here yet, but it looks promising.

Joe -- I'm not even talking dynasty, which involves luck, too. I'm just sick and tired of all the bad years between the few good years in all the time I've rooted for them. BTW, How about John Maine today?
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Shari -- The guys in the newspaper are always crying for big moves, because big moves sell papers. Developing talent is boring. I agree with you on the Rangers -- it's a perfect analogy.

WHEW.... Game over, I have to go and get my TV out of the lake, they were killing me. But what a game from Maine.

I like what I see from Maine. A lot of people are going to say the Astros & the Cubs suck, but I think his approach is what's made him more appealing than Soler.

I say keep him in the rotation.

After Pelfrey goes, they should decide between keeping him in the rotation or sending him back to B-Town. No need to put him in the pen and send Bell back down. Although if Orlando gets sent to the pen, Bell would still be the odd man out.

Back to Maine: I think his performance solidifies "In Omar We Trust" - as long as he stays away from Lima-types.

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Back to Maine: I think his performance solidifies "In Omar We Trust" - as long as he stays away from Lima-types.

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Has anyone run a comparitive list of pitching starts by rookies versus the meatball squad (Lima, Gonzales, Hernandez)? Guys the Mets already had as compared with the guys the Mets wished upon themselves; it'd be pretty telling I'll bet.
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Good post, Mike. Agree with all of it. My read is that the whole idea that the fans won't pay the dues necessary to build a winner comes from the attitudes of the casual fans; but MOST Mets fans are of the passionate variety.


BTW: that John Maine, he's got an idea up there, hasn't he? Pitching with a plan. I like smart players; I figure they'll be alble to adjust a step ahead of the opposition. I think that of Bannister, too; but this Maine kid has some gas to go with the idea.

Love it.

And, so long as I am emptying my brain: what would you say to a Mets team comeback player award? Call it the Ray Knight Award, go ahead and hand it to Valentin for 2006, why wait, someone might get hit by a truck or something and miss the ceremony. And resolve as a team to dig up an old/new gem in the rough each and every year. Because, they ARE out there.

Rev -- You really need to buy a TV that floats...
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Joe -- I guess they already sent Bell down. Now he's got to stay down there at least 10 days. I have a feeling Pelfrey might go down after his next start, and come back up some time in August. Just a guess. If Trachsel keeps pitching bad he might be replaced at some point.
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DD -- It's not just whether the rookies outperform guys like Lima and Gonzalez, but at least they're getting valuable experience that could pay off down the road. I like your idea about the award. Velentin probably could have won the NL comeback award if not for Nomar this year.

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