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Decisions, Decisions

Mike SteffanosSaturday, October 21, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


The Bergen Record's Steve Popper offers a list of Mets players not under contract to the team for 2007. Here they are by position:
Pitchers
Tom Glavine
Steve Trachsel
Orlando Hernandez
Chad Bradford
Darren Oliver
Guillermo Mota
Roberto Hernandez

Catcher
Mike DiFelice

Infielders
Jose Valentin
Chris Woodward

Outfielders
Cliff Floyd
Endy Chavez
Ricky Ledee
Michael Tucker

Some of these decisions are going to be easier than others. Here are some preliminary thoughts:

Tom Glavine
The decision is Glavine's, or more accurately his family's. I've been reading opinions that run the gamut from almost certainty to return to slam dunk to leave. I know many are going to get worked up over this. I'm not. If his family wants him home, that's what he should do. If he returns, we could still use him. I want him back, but I don't see him as irreplaceable. The important thing would be for Glavine to make a quick decision to allow the Mets to pursue other options if he leaves. I think he understands that.

Steve Trachsel:
Steve took a tougher beating than he deserved for his game 3 meltdown, and I won't kick him when he's down. Quite simply, on a pitching staff that must get younger, Trachsel must go. He didn't show any signs of being better than a below-average pitchers since returning from the back surgery. You can get one of the kids to give you at least as much as Steve would, and would have upside with them.

Orlando Hernandez:
As stated above, it's imperative for the team to get younger. Depending on what type of contract El Duque is looking for, however, he might be a reasonable gamble for next year in a long relief/insurance starter role. If you could sign him to an incentive-laden contract, why not? Still, he pitched so well down the stretch, it wouldn't shock me at all if a pitching-starved contender such as Cincinnati or the Phillies wouldn't be willing to offer more than would make sense for the Mets.

Chad Bradford:
His value certainly went up this past season. I hope the Mets can re-sign Bradford, but in a seller's market for relievers they are going to have competition. It's important to make every effort to bring back key setup men, but I recognize that at times another team can place a higher value on a player than makes sense for the Mets, such as what the Pirates gave Roberto Hernandez last winter.

Guillermo Mota:
I know everyone is mad at him for his stupid choice of pitches in game 2 of the NLCS, but with the possibility of trading Aaron Heilman or promoting him to the rotation (and we'll leave that question for another day) and the simple fact that Duaner Sanchez is coming back from a significant injury, the Mets really need to make every effort to resign this guy if he's willing to come back.

Darren Oliver:
Oliver did a great job this year, but he's 36 years old, and this year was significantly superior to his major league track record. A left-handed reliever coming off a solid year (and a strong game in the NLCS) is a good candidate to be overvalued by the market. Long relievers aren't that hard to come by; I'd avoid overpaying Darren for a return engagement at Shea in 2007.

Roberto Hernandez:
I don't think this decision is all that significant, and I suspect Bert will be either retired or pitching elsewhere next season. If you could sign him to a reasonable contract, however, you'd have to consider it.

Mike DiFelice:
Decent fielding, non-hitting catchers are literally falling off trees. Hasta la vista, baby.

Jose Valentin:
I loved the story that Jose wrote with the Mets this season, but he's made it clear that he wants to start somewhere in 2007. Depending on where the Mets go in the free agent and trade market, it might make sense to give Valentin another year. His age - 37 - may well work against that.

Chris Woodward:
Woody is a solid, versatile defensive contributor, but I'm not sure the Mets could afford his weak stick. After a decent, if unspectacular offensive year in 2005, Chris was a non-factor offensively this year. When Valentin slumped in the playoffs, Woodward hardly offered a viable alternative. I like Chris Woodward, but suspect the Mets could find someone out there who can competently back up the infield and offer more at the plate. I wouldn't be upset if Chris returned, but I wouldn't be heartbroken if he left.

Cliff Floyd:
If Floyd was to accept an incentive-filled contract, and the Mets spent their free agent money in other areas such as pitching and second base, I can see an actual scenario where Floyd comes back for one more year. I consider it most unlikely, though, to be honest. I just see them going elsewhere.

Endy Chavez:
I don't believe that Chavez is actually eligible for free agency, so the Mets just need to make him an offer. He's a valuable and versatile bench player who Willie loves. It would be shocking if Endy wasn't a New York Met next season.

Michael Tucker:
Tucker will turn 36 next June. He was a guy who would almost always give you a professional at bat, and could be a valuable reserve OF/pinch hitter if the deal makes sense.

Ricky Ledee:
2-1/2 years younger than Tucker, Ledee has had some very good years as a reserve, but is coming off an injury-plagued and ineffective 2006. Could make some sense, again if the price is right. I'd probably pass if I was making the call.

Pedro Feliciano???:
He wasn't on Popper's list, but I thought he was on a 1-year contract, too. I could be wrong. I can't find any info on this, if someone could help me out I'd appreciate it. In any case, he just turned 30 in August and has come into his own as a reliever. I have to believe his value soared higher than tech stocks in the 1990s over the course of this season. He might be hard to keep if he is a free agent.

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Comments (3)

Very good Mike, pulling something out of the hat, when we all seem to be empty. You stirred some Met juices in me. Thanks. I can't get into the WS yet. I am preaching in Scranton tomorrow and have to go and fine tune my message. This is always a nice break for me,thanks again.

They haven't even tossed the first pitch in Detroit, and you're already plotting our march to the Mets' next pennant. I am impressed. Are you sure you're not the guy who calls Omar late at night and whispers the next genius deal to him?

Looks like your assessment means nearly half of this year's team may not return next year. Kind of scary, until you check their ages, market value, and the fact that many of them played way over their abilities pre-2006.

I keep hearing names like Zito and Soriano bandied about, and the hot stove isn't even turned on yet. There's already one team in New York that plucks away free agents just for the sake of spending money, like Michael Jackson in a toy store (or Madonna in a Malawi orphanage).

I know several of our pitchers come back in '07 with question marks, but I'm not interested in Zito becoming next year's Kris Benson (overpaid and underperforming). What I think we need is a second baseman with some offense, another pitcher or two who can give us solid innings, and some pop off the bench, which we all have to admit the Mets were lacking this year.

There's rebuilding, retooling, and reloading. A little retooling is all this club needs, but I guess 29 other teams will be saying that come the winter meetings, anyway.

I'm pumped for '07. It feels like winter 1984, when I spent four months reliving how we all twirled our fan appreciation scarves at the Mets in that last home game, and knew that REAL good things were fast approaching.

Rev - No problem. By the way, I'm still waiting for you to figure out how to send that picture. :-)
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NostraDennis - I'm kind of with you on Zito, which makes us somewhat heretics among Mets fans, I guess.

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