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Winter Meetings Day One

Mike SteffanosTuesday, December 9, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

I remember previous seasons reading complaints that Omar Minaya was impatient and too quick to overpay for the player or players he wanted. Now there is criticism about how none of the holes on this team have been filled yet. While I can't pretend to have any insight into our GM's thinking, for what it's worth it seems to me he's playing things about right in an economy and a market for closers that actually works somewhat in his favor.

Reading between the lines, I'm starting to think that it will be K-Rod closing games out here next season. I don't believe at all he will sign for the 2-year deal the Mets are reportedly offering, but he seems to want to come here and is willing to be flexible to work something out.

I'm leery of seeing the Mets spend big on a closer again, and someday hope to see them actually develop one from their own system, but Rodriguez probably is the best option for them right now out of all the names being bandied about. Kerry Wood is intriguing to me, but I don't think the Mets can afford to gamble on another somewhat fragile player given the history of the past couple of years.

I suspect the eighth inning guy will come via trade, someone along the lines of Huston Street. I'd love to see the Mets get a little creative here, possibly looking for someone young with upside who hasn't established himself yet. Probably won't happen, though, as I suspect they'll be looking for something a little more certain after two years of bad bullpen work.

If the Mets manage to land their closer this week they'll probably start kicking the tires on some of the starters out there. I have a feeling Lowe is going back to the Red Sox, and I'm not madly in love with any of the options out there.

Jon Garland is a name that gets mentioned a lot, but he seems to me like this year's Carlos Silva -- a mediocre pitcher who will be overpaid based on his ability to pitch 200 innings. This guy pitched to a 1.51 WHIP last season in a pretty good pitcher's park as opposing hitters tattooed him for a .303/.355/.464 batting line. He allowed 237 hits in 196 innings last season while striking out 4.1/9 innings. How much do you want to spend on the guy likely to be the next Steve Trachsel?

I'd love to see them take a run at Ben Sheets, but he may prove a little pricey for a team already spending a lot for their ace. I like Randy Wolf as an inexpensive option, but he's unlikely to remain healthy for a full season. He managed 190 innings last year in San Diego and Houston, but that was the first time he made it over 140 innings since 2003.

A lot of folks think that once the Mets know how much they'll be spending on pitching they might look at upgrading left field from the planned platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis. I know that's what a lot of fans are hoping for, but I'm actually okay with going into the season with these two guys.

I think that Murphy and Tatis are a couple of guys who bring the kind of intensity to the game this team needs. I wouldn't want to go into the year counting on 550 AB from either one of them, but a platoon increases the chances of them being successful.

No doubt there are question marks with both. Tatis had a nice year for them last season, but it's quite possible that he'll come back to earth as the league sees more of him. Murphy had a fine rookie season, but has only 131 major league at bats.

With a platoon of these two, even if one falls flat it will be easier to find a player to fit into a platoon than an everyday type. Another thing you get from a platoon is a stronger bench.

More problematic to me in the long run is my doubts that Murphy will hit for enough power to justify a corner OF slot. He has a solid approach and I think he'll hit for a high enough average and also take his share of walks with that patience he displays. But you're looking at a kid who only managed a .444 SLG in 3 minor league seasons. Maybe his power is developing a little late -- he did slug .496 in Double-A last season -- but I didn't get the impression that he had a lot of HR potential.

Long term, I'd like to see the Mets continue to try to make him a second baseman. I know he'll never be a gold glove there, but if he can hold his own there his hitting skills would be a good fit. The Mets tend to be very conservative with moves like this, but I'd love to see them at least give Murphy a chance there in the future, as long as he continues to produce offensively.

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)

I for one agree with the notion of taking care of the pen first, get another starter, fill out the bench, and if you can upgrade at catcher, that would be a productive off-season. I have confidence in Omar, but like some folks I am a little anxious for things to start happening. If they get K-rod and an arm or two more for the pen that would help enormously. To get another starter would just make for a solid rotation 1-4, and good competition for the # 5 spot between Niese, maybe sign both Garcia and Wolf. I guess a lot of answers will unfold during spring training when we get to see Pelfrey(consistancy coming off a solid season), and Maine (health). If those two are right, along with Santana and whom ever the Mets sign as a starter, things will be alright as far as the staff. A good bench, and maybe another bat/secondbaseman, depending on other moves(Castillo salary exchange). This could turn out to be the off-season that puts the Mets over the hump. We shall see.......

mike, i agree with most of your comments here except the corner outfield position. we just can't afford a platoon there. not with church being church in r.f. we need offense. just look at the games that offense performed when santana pitched? it was like "santana's pitching, no need to score more than a couple runs". that man on any other contender would have won at least twenty!! i'm sorry to say but until we know for sure what churchie will do for us; we cannot and should not be comfy with a platoon out there in the corner outfield. as far as the starters go, if we scored more runs they would have the lux. of being able to pitch out of jams. the manager wouldn't have to manage each game like there is no tomorrow. it could possibly lead to more innings pitched by the starters leading to less calls to the pen.....

LJ - I'd be surprised if Castillo is dealt this winter. I think the Mets would do it, but I don't believe that anybody wants him for 3 more years. That's going to be a tough contract to unload.

William - Not sure what you mean about Church being Church in RF. It's up to the Mets to evaluate if he's fully recovered from the concussions. If he has, I think his production will be fine, I'd expect .285 20 HR 80 RBI from him for a full season.

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