By Mike Steffanos
Last offseason Omar Minaya got off to a blazing fast start in his winter makeover of the New York Mets' roster. By Thanksgiving Day 2005, Omar had already traded Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady and acquired Carlos Delgado from the Marlins. He was also closing in on signing Billy Wagner to close games and making another trade with the Marlins for Paul Lo Duca. This all went down before baseball's winter meetings. Other than the trades of Jae Seo and Kris Benson in January, most of what happened the rest of the off-season was all about the much smaller complementary pieces of the puzzle.
A year later, things are progressing much slower and quite differently. While there certainly was significance to the re-signings of Jose Valentin and Orlando Hernandez and the signing of Damion Easley, they undoubtedly are not the vital core players that Delgado, Wagner and Lo Duca were slotted in to be. If he can keep his 41-year-old body on the field, Moises Alou will be the most impactful signing, but he's likely to see the majority of his at bats in the six hole of the lineup. Although no one really knows exactly what will happen, I think we all strongly suspect that really big move or moves of this offseason have yet to occur. Certainly Tom Glavine's decision, which should come at some point this week, may serve to be the catalyst for whatever Omar Minaya is contemplating.
Last year nothing of any real consequence happened during the winter meetings. The Mets picked up Mitch Wylie, who made no contribution whatsoever to the major league club, in the rule 5 draft. Right as the meetings broke up the Mets signed veteran backups Julio Franco and Jose Valentin. We all made fun of those signings at the time, but Franco assumed an important leadership role, and Jose Valentin was the guy who actually deserved to be comeback player of the year.
This year's winter meetings show promise of having a much greater impact on the Mets club that takes the field in 2007. I have a strong feeling that Glavine's decision one way or the other should prompt some more significant action from the team just in time for the winter meetings. Omar has made it known that he will look to trade for a starting pitcher, and Glavine's ultimate yea or nay may be the impetus for something more significant along those lines than the acquisition of the two young lefties for the Marlins.
The happenings so far this offseason seem tame and anticlimactic by 2006 standards with last year's dizzying blur of non-stop activity, but I have a funny feeling that we haven't seen anything yet. There may not be a Delgado or a Wagner coming down the pike, but I'm fairly confident that Moises Alou will not prove to be this winter's biggest pickup. What makes it more interesting (and kind of fun) is that while last year we had a pretty good idea who was coming, all we have is speculation this time around, with ultimate rewards that aren't as clear or readily apparent.