Feb 10

Feb. 10.10: Around the Horn.

Responding to some news items:

REPORT: Mets out of money?

REPORT: Mets out of money?


* Fox Sports.com says the Mets are out of money, which is preventing them from signing Rob Barajas, and kept them from Joel Pineiro.

Considering nobody has access to the Mets’ finances outside the team, I don’t know how they could report that and be totally accurate. Maybe the Mets just don’t want to spend the money. A team out of money doesn’t spent $66 million on Jason Bay.

I think the Mets looked at the FA landscape, saw they couldn’t win without breaking the bank and opted just to be competitive instead. Competitive keeps the fans coming all summer.

* I do think, however, it is a mistake not to take a look at Chien-Ming Wang. Reports have been good on his shoulder and would be worth the gamble. Certainly, he would have come for less than Ben Sheets, another injury gamble.

* I was pleased to see Keith Hernandez working with Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. I always knew he would if he were asked. Not to use a valuable resource like that is foolish.

In a conference call, Hernandez said: “For Dan last year, in midseason, to have to move over to first base and basically learn on the job at the major-league level, that’s a lot to ask; and I just thought that he really did admirably. I was surprised at how he played first base. It was much better than I expected.’’

* ESPN is reporting the Mets are close to re-signing first baseman Mike Jacobs.

Jan 27

Jan. 27.10: What would change?

Maybe this will be the summer in which the Mets fire Omar Minaya. It also might be the summer in which they get it all together.

Care to guess which one has a greater chance of happening?

MINAYA: Just how much power does he have?

MINAYA: Just how much power does he have?


At the end of last summer’s disaster, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Minaya said there would be trades and free-agent signings. Nothing has happened between then and now to indicate there will be a real change – and, spare me Jason Bay.

It’s known throughout the industry that the Mets just don’t do it the way the model clubs do – and that includes the Yankees and Phillies. There is no definable budget, or at least one that can be easily recognized. And, there was no real setting of priorities.

How else can you explain the setting the goal as pitching at the end of the season, and yet having your key offseason move be a hitter who really had nowhere else to go?

It was reported Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis set the Mets as their priorities, but the Mets did not respond. No, neither is John Lackey, but either would have made the Mets’ rotation better and deeper than it is today.

The Met were more content to look at last season as an injury-plagued fluke, and ignored such factors as not improving their pitching depth in the 2008 offseason or building their long-criticized farm system as to provide replacements when a starter went down.

OK, the Mets have Bay, but with no other real bidders they coughed up a fifth-year option. … They got into a spitting match with Carlos Beltran, their best player, over surgery, which should have been avoided with surgery in November. … There were no decisive changes in their coaching staff. … And, their pitching remains the same.

Randy Wolf, Pineiro and Ben Sheets all went elsewhere for salaries that didn’t break anybody’s bank. The Mets by the way, had an ERA of just under five a game.

Minaya has made his share of mistakes, beginning with the Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez contracts, but truth be told, ownership signs off on those type of deals. They weren’t done without Wilpon’s blessing.

So, a miserable start – and with that pitching, who doubts that could happen? – could mean the sacking of Minaya. But, that won’t change anything because they are the same old Mets.

Jan 21

Jan. 21.10: One more pitcher off the board.

Joel Pineiro wanted four years and $40 million. He got two years and $16 million, numbers the Mets easily could have matched. But, they didn’t, and I don’t even know how serious they were about getting him.

And, with spring training inside a month away, it doesn’t appear they were that serious about improving their rotation.

Pineiro is a shade over .500 for his career, so it’s not as if they are losing an ace. But, he was coming off a good year and has been consistent, something the rotation could use.

It sounds like the usual group of suspects for the Mets this year. I can hardly contain myself.

Jan 18

Jan. 18.10: Spring training questions.

Questions, questions ....

Questions, questions ....

With a month before the start of spring training, let’s take a look at the ten top issues surrounding the Mets when the arrive at Port St. Lucie:

1) Who are the fifth starter candidates?
A: Jon Niese is from the organization. It could also be Oliver Perez or John Maine if the Mets should add another arm. Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland are still out there, but they are also linked to other teams. There’s no guarantee the Mets will bring in somebody else.

2) Where is Johan Santana?
A: Santana is coming off surgery. The Mets are saying he’ll be ready, but they said the same thing about John Maine last spring.

3) What is Jose Reyes status?
A: Reyes says he feels good, but he hasn’t tested that hamstring in game-type conditions. And, how much speed has he lost?

4) Did David Wright find his home run stroke over the winter?
A: Maybe it was Citi Field, maybe not. But, Wright did not hit with power last season. That has to change if the Mets are to do anything.

5) Carlos Beltran is how many weeks away?
A: Originally, they said 12 weeks. He won’t be ready by spring training to do baseball activities, but maybe they’ll have a better timetable by then.

6) What’s the catching situation look like?
A: The Mets have plenty of reserve catchers, but not a No. 1. They hope it will be Bengie Molina. They really don’t want to rush Josh Thole to the majors.

7) Who is the real Mike Pelfrey?
A: Pelfrey appeared on the verge of breaking out in 2008, but regressed last season. It’s about time he gets to the next level.

8) Where does the coin land?
A: Will Coinflip Perez show consistency beyond being inconsistent? He’s also coming off surgery. The reports are he’s working hard, but he’s worked hard before with no results.

9) What are the bullpen roles?
A: They could change if they sign John Smoltz. I’d rather have him in a set-up role than Kelvim Escobar. That way I could also drop Bobby Parnell down to a lower pressure slot.

10) What kind of camp will Jerry Manuel run?
A: Lax or clamp down? There were injuries last season, but the team also played fundamentally poor baseball and that’s his responsibility.

Jan 13

Jan. 13.10: What’s left isn’t good, but ….

Who’s remaining in the free-agent pitching market isn’t good, and it seems as if the Mets are thinking who they currently have is better.

The Cubs want Ben Sheets and appear willing to spend the $12 million or so it would take to get him. He’s good when he’s healthy, worth the coin, but there’s no guarantees he’ll hold up. Ditto with Mark Mulder, who’s talking with Milwaukee.

The Mets waited for the market to come back to them on Joel Pineiro and the pricing might well have. So has the competition to get him: Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington are linked to him as well as the Mets. Washington also has interest in Doug Davis. Can’t imagine the Nationals getting both, but what if?

That leaves us Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton (been there done that), and Chien-Ming Wang.

There are flaws with all of them, just there are flaws with the Mets rotation, which now has four arms, three of them coming off surgery (Santana, Perez, Maine). They’ll liable to get Garland as their No. 5 and call it an offseason.