November 29, 2004

Eye on the Mets



Figuring out what the Mets are up to is a puzzling mess. Mike Piazza to the Angels in a three-team swap is just one brain-bending scenario.

Metsblog.com, a well-trafficed fan site, tries to sort through the jungle of gossip, which most recently includes the team making an offer for Pedro Martinez, reported this weekend on WFAN 660. In putting an offer on the table, GM Omar Minyana seems ready to outbid Boston and the Yankees for his services and sign him long-term.

As a Phillies fan, I’d be excited about Pedro. Mets fans, understandably, are not.

Few teams have signed higher-priced bums to long-term deals than the Mets, and there are a few of those on the market this winter. Name a player, burnout or not, and his name has been mentioned in rumored deal to the Mets: Sosa, Soriano, Sexson, the Big Three of the A’s – Mulder, Hudson and Zito – Pavano, Beltran, J.D. Drew, Mags, and the list goes on and on and on.

Just one of those pitchers, to join a rotation with Kris Benson who resigned, and a bargain-priced Al Leiter, who might resign, would place the Mets firmly back in the fray. A big-time outfielder the likes of Beltran, Drew or Mags, might put them in the driver’s seat. Remember, the Mets surged just before Atlanta when on their run, but collapsed, seemingly without reason. As a result, Art Howe is out, and Willie Randolph is in as the new skipper.

With injuries behind them, the Mets find themselves in the same situation as the Phillies: New managers, new staff and GMs firmly in the spotlight. Essentially, the Mets are also shopping for the same goods as the Phillies this winter: pitching and outfield. The Mets have bigger obstacles in the Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza contracts, however, the only thing standing in the way of a major offensive overhaul.

There’s no mathematical formula to figure out how the Mets will look on opening day, but as is stands, there could be 10 million variations. Many of the returning players are good ones, led by Rookie of the Year candidate David Wright. I like this guy a lot. He mastered the Eastern League and despite having only 263 ABs with the Mets, he hit 14 home runs, knocked in 40 runs, batted .293 and had a slugging average of .525.

They also have a talented catcher in Vance Wilson, who proved he can play every day, and unlimited potential in middle infield. Shortstop Kaz Matsui, who must improve his defense when he switches to 2B this year, didn't fair too poorly at the plate when it was all said and done. And Jose Reyes, who's back at SS, needs to get on base more to blast teams with his speed.

The Mets will be this winter’s fiercest competitor in the NL East, and may be the fiercest come opening day.

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