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Williams Gets a Contract, Zambrano Doesn't

Mike SteffanosWednesday, December 13, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

The Mets had some decisions to make last night. They had to decide by midnight which of their arbitration-eligible players (3-6 years of MLB service) would receive contracts. Any player offered a contract had to make at least 80% of what he made last season. As expected, Endy Chavez, Duaner Sanchez, Ramon Castro and Oliver Perez were all offered contracts. Despite some speculation to the contrary, the Mets did what I expected them to do and re-signed pitcher Dave Williams, who is a prime candidate for the Darren Oliver long relief/spot starter/extra lefty in the bullpen role.

Only one arbitration eligible Met was left out in the cold: everyone's favorite symbol of "Old Mets" futility, Victor Zambrano.

Zambrano, who made $3 million in 2006, would have had to have been offered a contract worth $2.4 million under the rules. Despite the escalating market for pitching, the Mets decided that it was just too much to commit to a pitcher coming off his second Tommy John surgery only 11 months previous to next season's opening day.

I mentioned yesterday that if I was the Mets GM I would probably not offer him the contract. It has nothing to do with what Zambrano represents, which means nothing to me. What means more to me is that it typically takes a pitcher 12-18 months to really recover from the surgery, and that just makes it more likely that Zambrano wouldn't be able to do much in 2007. Moreover, for all of the successful comebacks from a single surgery, there is not much precedent for coming back from two and being particularly effective.

The Mets say they will continue to negotiate with Victor, but I'd be surprised if he was back now. I wouldn't be against him signing a reasonable contract to provide insurance, but his agent can negotiate with anyone now. He'll get offers from other teams, and I suspect that he wants to get away from New York almost as much as some fans would love to see him go.

As is usual in years when the market for free agents is high, there wasn't a large number of non-tendered players. The Biz of Baseball web site has the full list. The one player that is generation some speculation from the Mets is Braves 2B Marcus Giles, although it seems most likely he will wind up in his hometown of San Diego with his older brother Brian. If it seems like there is any chance at all for Giles to come here we'll talk about it another time, but I'd bet against it.

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 (3)

Ever get one of those lightning flashes of what the future will hold? I just got me a vision of Victor Zambrano in a Washington Nats hat. On him it looked good.

I just hope he goes somewhere where he just gets judged on how he pitches. I have nothing against Zambrano.

Agreed, Zambrano didn't create the political landscape in which he pitched for the Mets.

But then neither did the fans. It was the Mets who, in giving up their best, most eagerly anticipated prospect for him, set Victor Zambrano up to fail.

Praise be, Mets management seems much smarter these days.

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