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The Yankees Are Coming

Mike SteffanosTuesday, December 26, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

The new that the Yankees are exploring trading Randy Johnson and possibly entering the Barry Zito sweepstakes seems to be putting a chill into the hearts of some Mets fans. I've read speculation by Ben Shpigel in the New York Times and Jon Heyman at SI.com that clearing the Big Eunuch's salary might allow the Yankees to jump into the Zito sweepstakes as a late wildcard entrant. What I haven't seen is any real evidence that the Yankees, looking to cut payroll and lukewarm at best towards Zito, have any real interest in doing this. Until I hear anything definitive otherwise, I find it difficult to take this all that seriously.

This doesn't mean, however, that I believe that it's a sure thing that Barry Zito will pitch in Shea in 2007. I think that some west coast teams and possibly the Rangers still have something to say about it. While the Mets probably make the most sense for Zito of all remaining teams, I don't get any sense that they possess any huge advantage -- particularly when they refuse to throw the vault wide open to entice the southpaw here.

I don't believe that Jeff Suppan signing with Milwaukee or the moves the White Sox have already made have thrown the Mets front office into panic, and I don't believe that a failure to secure Zito will, either. I think Omar has looked at all of the options, placed a value on each, and knows what he's comfortable with giving up for all of them. I think a trade is still a possibility, with January being the time when that's most likely to occur, as it did last year with the Seo and Benson deals. The idea of Suppan's signing or coming up short on Zito catching him by surprise and throwing things into some wild state of panic is just ludicrous to me.

Minaya has shown in the past he won't let anything stop him from getting what he really wants (See the Pedro, Beltran and Wagner signings). I think what really bothers some people is that he doesn't seem to covet Zito with the same fervor shown in these previous pursuits. As for me, I agree with a strategy that establishes what the team feels that Zito would be worth to them and sticks to it. I really do hope the Mets get Zito, because I feel the most likely alternative will involve trading pitching prospects to bring back a starter. I just can't fault Minaya if he feels there is a limit to what he is willing to give to Barry Zito, and goes a different way.

Perhaps the Yankees really will come along and sweep Zito away to the Bronx. Maybe the Giants will win out on the southpaw. So be it. You may not agree with the decision, and that's a serious fan's prerogative. I don't agree with everything Omar does, either. I just can't buy into this idea that what another free-spending team or capricious free agent does is going to throw a monkey wrench into the season, or catch the Mets without a backup plan. The Yankees are coming? So what?

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (4)

And the church said AMEN.

IREALLY hope we dont give up any prospects-The Mets have historically grown their own pitchers(I know-Darling,Ojeda,Viola,Orosco,El Sid came via trades)-it is just more fun when you grow your own

Merry Xmas Mike,
Thanks for all you do.

1. I agree with your post. Zito is prime for the Mets because he represents an upgrade. He might not be RJ, but he is better than Suppan or Benson. As opposed to those two (and like) Zito would make the rotation better, much as Hudson combined with Smoltz made that rotation better. I reiterate that Glavine though he has good stretches is not Glavine circa 1995-2000. Glavine is not the #1 SP signed to replace Mike Hampton. Now he is a #4/#5 guy who is more of a figurehead to the organization.

2. Irony: SP traded for Suppan: Yes he could have been a Mets staple for all of 5 yrs now. But in Suppan we would have a facsimile of Kris Benson with more toughness. But Omar has Ollie Perez and John Maine with similar make up. In fact Ollie obviously has better stuff, 5-xtra yrs, and a higher ceiling at a cost of 8M less. John Maine could be better than Suppan as early as next yr. IF Suppan was signed we have the 2005 Mets again with 5+ #3-5 starters (VZ/Traxx/Benson/Seo/Glavine). I doubt thats what Omar wants again.

3. In short WITH Zito, the Mets can have Pedro-Zito-Glavine-Ollie-Maine-Humber/Devaney which possibly is the best NL rotation.

4. Texas: The Mccarthy trade and comments that followed reiterate that Texas is NOT a place Zito should go. In fact Mccarthy could regress there (conversely Massett-Danks bloom in Chicago). Zito's stock WILL rise as a Met and he knows it.

5. Development: The Mets have been burnt (to a mega million $$$) crisp by rushing prospects these last 10+ yrs. Pulse, Izzy, Wilson, Acevedo, Person, Roberts, Seo, Heilman, all represent Mets minor leaguers who blew out arms or faded under the lights. Heilman is the only 'corrected ' one in this sense that he has foud a niche and suceeded as a Met. Wilson, Izzy, Dotel, Jon Lester, and Rob Person have had success after Shea. As much as I like homegrown talent the pressure of NY needs to assessed/integrated into the learning curve. If not we have repeats of Gooden and Grant Roberts (add nails and straw) who hit the illegal substance route. I would like Humber, Devaney, Pelfrey and Mulvaney to develop at the optimal pace so they dont flash and burnout.

Luis - Orosco, Darling and Sid came as minor leaguers, so they were somewhat home grown.
Ed - Merry Christmas to you, too. I hope if Zito does sign he pitches better than Hudson has in Atlanta. I agree with you on not rushing the young pitchers.

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