By Mike Steffanos
It will probably be a while before Barry Zito's final destination becomes apparent, and those possible trades will probably have to wait at least until Omar returns from the Dominican Republic. As we all suffer post-winter meetings Mets news withdrawal, here are a few minor thoughts to keep you going:
The Mets and Guillermo Mota agreed to a 2-year contract worth $5 million. Given the current market for relief pitchers, this deal is was an absolute no-brainer, despite the fact that Mota will miss the first 50 games of the season with a drug suspension. As for that, while I won't gloss over it, I'll give him respect for being one of the few guys who was caught and took responsibility for his actions instead of attributing the positive test to tainted vitamins or some such nonsense.
As for a concern as to how much of Mota's comeback with the Mets was attributable to whatever he was caught taking, that's certainly valid. In thinking about it, though, the corrections Peterson made with Mota were moving him on the rubber and getting him to throw more changeups. We heard that while he was struggling in the AL his velocity was still very good, but he was struggling with location and pitch selection. That would at least give hope that Mota can be an effective reliever when he returns in June. Even if he slipped from being an eighth inning option to a sixth or seventh inning guy, at the price he's being paid that's not unreasonable. Once again, Minaya has found a way to save money in one area that can be used somewhere else.
He's a heck of a ballplayer, but I'm not quite as enamored of the idea of trading a lot of young talent for Wells, who will be a free agent after next season. He's a centerfielder, and a damned good one, and last time I looked Carlos Beltran figures to hold that job for the next few years. Wells is a very nice offensive player, but his value is as an all star caliber centerfielder.
If you're the Mets and you make a deal for Wells, figure he's a one-year rental. He's going to command a salary in the Beltran/Soriano range, and he's going to get plenty of offers from teams that will pay him that money and allow him to play center. While I agree he would make the Mets a much better team in 2007 both in the field and at the plate, the cost would be much too high. Giving up the young talent it would take to land Vernon Wells makes sense for a team that is looking at him as their long term centerfielder, and that's not the Mets.
When Gary Carter wasn't given a major league or Triple-A job with the Mets he left the organization. While I always liked Carter, I always understood his days with the Mets were numbered. It was obvious that he was looking for a fast track to the majors, and the Mets were only the first stop along the way.
Both HoJo and Ken Oberkfell, who hold the jobs that Carter wanted, have paid their dues with this organization and deserve their positions more than Carter. Meanwhile, Carter was offered a promotion to Double-A and opted not to take it. It's called paying your dues. No hard feelings, Kid, but no regrets either. Good luck.
Fellow die-hards, for some support and a laugh, check out Howard Megdal's Offseason Survival Guide at Mets Geek.
Also, for an intelligent explanation of the mechanism that cost the Mets one of their top prospects in yesterday's Rule 5 draft, check out Toby Hyde's excellent Mets Minor League Report - Rule Five Edition.