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.