By Mike Steffanos
Some clarification is in order for what I wrote yesterday. When I questioned whether the Mets are a "win now" team, it doesn't mean I think that they're not built to win soon. I understand that Pedro and Glavine aren't getting any younger, and that Carlos Delgado is not a kid, either. My point hinged specifically on Pedro Martinez. If he is no longer capable of pitching like an ace, and Glavine is not quite the pitcher he looked like the first couple of months, then this team simply does not have the starting pitching to compete with an AL team like Boston or Chicago that can trot one top-quality starter after another out there.
With the revelation that the Angels had the audacity to ask for Lastings Milledge in return for Jeff Weaver, whom they had essentially thrown out on the scrap heap, you have to understand that anyone with anything to sell that even resembles a major-league starter is absolutely confident that they can hold teams up for far beyond the true value of that pitcher. The only time it ever makes sense to give into that type of extortion is if it's the one piece that can provide a championship. I'm just not convinced the Mets are that close, certainly not if Pedro can't bounce back.
I know that some of you out there are bitter that the Mets chose to trade many of their top prospects this off-season, but there is youth on this team beyond Wright and Reyes. Nady looks like he can blossom into a decent middle of the order bat. Beltran is still pretty young. There are some prospects down on the farm beyond Milledge, and the Mets seem to have a sincere commitment to getting more out of their own system. Look at what the Red Sox have done -- they've provided a blueprint for how a large market team can compete for a championship year after year and still bring dynamic young talent up through the system. I'd like to see the Mets go in that direction, and that certainly seems to be Omar Minaya's plan. A key component of that is the ability to look at your team honestly and decide how good you really are.
My contention is that one more successful winter can put this team over the top without overpaying for questionable talent. You can still disagree with me, it was never my intent to start a cult here, just voice personal opinions. All I ask, really, is that you disagree with what I have actually said.
I was catching up on my reading last night and came across Dave Murray's funny story about overcoming an aversion to fireworks on his Mets Guy in Michigan web site. Check it out, if you hadn't already.
Unlike Dave, I had no aversion to fireworks growing up, although I would have been a lot better off if I did. I did some stupid stuff, fortunately managing not to blow off any key body parts. I loved the really loud stuff the best back then.
When I was around 13 or 14, I managed to get a hold of some really powerful M-80s, the loudest ones I ever had. When I lit one of those suckers off, everyone in the neighborhood knew it. Anyway, I had managed to break the middle finger of my right hand jumping my bicycle over a suicidal plywood ramp in the back yard. I got home from the doctor with a huge aluminum splint on the finger. After I got bored of flipping people the bird with my enormous middle appendage, I decided to cheer myself up by lighting off one of those babies on my front porch and tossing it into the yard.
I quickly discovered that it's quite difficult to toss an M-80 when you have a huge splint on your throwing hand, so I decided to toss it underhand. That didn't work well as, to my horror, I watched the powerful firework roll unexpectedly off my splint and drop to the porch right by my feet. Those M-80s had long wicks, but I wasn't at all confident that I could pick it up and throw it, and for once discretion won out in my life as I dived into the front hallway. Seconds later a huge blast shook the foundations of the house. My grandmother was the only one home, and thanks to her partial deafness, I convinced her it was just a truck backfiring. Then I went out to examine the damage.
There was a huge scorch mark on the porch, but the only real damage was that one of the doorbells got blown loose from the wall. Quick work with a screwdriver made that as good as new, but there was no cure for that humungous powder burn on the porch. My grandfather suspected that I was responsible for that, although I never confessed, and would give me a dirty look whenever he saw that old burn mark. I'd like to tell you that I got smarter after that, but that would be a lie. I did, however, learn to toss M-80s left-handed until the splint came off.
SI: Billy: you play for the Mets now
In John Heyman's new Daily Scoop column for SI.com, he quotes Billy Wagner extensively on the Phillies. My advice to Wagner would be that it's time to move on. You really need to stop talking about your former team.
Mets Daily: Podcasts
John Strubel has some terrific audio interviews up there on the revamped MetsDaily.com web site. The latest ones are Mets.com writer Marty Noble and Bob Socci, the radio voice of the Norfolk Tides.