Dec 21

Dec. 21.09: Mets miss out on Marquis ….

MARQUIS: Now a Nat.

MARQUIS: Now a Nat.

I spent most of the afternoon in the dentist’s chair. Drove home with the news Jason Marquis – somebody who wanted to play for the Mets – signed a two-year, $15-million deal with the Washington Nationals and bit my lip. Good thing the novocaine hadn’t worn off.

I never had the Mets getting any of the big pitchers, like John Lackey and Roy Halladay, but would settle for a middle-tier arm such as Joel Pineiro, Marquis and Jon Garland.

It’s not that they didn’t get Marquis that is so disturbing, but for how cheaply he went (maybe that does tell you something), but the Mets needed any and all pitching help.

My confidence level in the Mets bringing in an arm of substance is waning, especially considering the news that ESPN is reporting they are considering bringing back Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal at $8 million.

I keep going back in my mind Jeff Wilpon’s vow after the season and Omar Minaya’s pronouncement “we have a plan.”

Think it might be a good time to hear it.

Dec 21

Dec. 21.09: Playing the waiting game ….

We are in the staring phase of the negotiations with Jason Bay and Bengie Molina. The Mets don’t want to go to five years with Bay or three with Molina; the players believe there aren’t many options other than them.

Who blinks first?

If it doesn’t get done this week, don’t expect anything to happen until after the holidays. The Christmas-New Years weeks is traditionally quiet.

The Mets have proven in the past a willingness to wait it out and it might serve them well this time, also. Maybe so, but things have changed over the past few winters. For one, the Mets can no longer reasonably call themselves contenders after last year’s finish. There’s more a sense of desperation.
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Oct 16

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Tale of two pitchers.

Two pitchers, one the Mets didn’t want and one they’d love to have, will be on display today in the second round of the playoffs.

Pedro Martinez, whom the Mets cut ties with in an effort to get younger and move toward the future, will start Game 2 of the NLCS for Philadelphia against the Dodgers. John Lackey, the pitching prize of the free-agent market, starts for the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.

MARTINEZ: Get the ball while Mets stay home.


If Martinez wins, it will send Philly home with a 2-0 games lead. If Lackey wins, he will give the home field advantage to the Angels.

The Mets are watching at home for the third straight season.

After a series of injuries the past few years, the Mets decided they could live without Martinez, 37, will make his first playoff appearance in five years against the Dodgers, the team in broke in with in 1992. Martinez made nine starts with the Phillies, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

He told me last year he thought he could still pitch again, and proved it this year in a limited capacity. Weary of the injuries, and confident Mike Pelfrey would progress and they’d finally get something out of Oliver Perez, the Mets said good-bye to Martinez, who did not want to come back in a limited role or with a limited contract.

If he will be content with a No. 5 slot, he’ll get some attention this winter. No, the Mets won’t be one of the teams, but he could stay in Philadelphia.

Martinez likes the team and it will be good again next summer.

Martinez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, but manager Charlie Manuel isn’t concerned, saying, “I think he knows how to pitch.’’

Martinez’s last playoff appearance was in 2004 with Boston, and one of the story lines today will be facing former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

“Well, nobody can say I know how to pitch Manny.” Martinez said. “Manny is such a great hitter, and he’s someone that makes adjustments as he sees the game develop.”

The Angels are a team in a zone, having swept Boston in the Division Series. They’ll face CC Sabathia tonight at the Stadium.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.

LACKEY: On top of FA pitching list.


The Angels know how to beat the Yankees, dispatching them from the playoffs twice since 2002. The teams split 10 games this year.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to measure yourself against an organization like the Yankees. It might take a century before you would get there,’’ Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I think our guys feel good at the way they go about their business, the way that they play the game hard, the way that they push the game.’’

But, it all begins with pitching, and tonight that is Lackey, who beat the Yankees in July when he gave up two runs in seven innings.

“I’m not going to get intimidated by anybody,” Lackey said.

Lackey is a bulldog type, he gives innings when he’s healthy, but he’s missed considerable time in each of the past two seasons. That will give the Mets pause as they were bitten all year by injuries. It would just be the franchise’s luck to sign him and have him go down.

Lackey leads a relatively thin free-agent market that includes Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras, Rich Harden, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Randy Wolf.

There are some good names, but nobody outside of Lackey who could be called a No. 1.

Sep 15

Pitching issues should determine Delgado’s fate with Mets.

Carlos Delgado had arguably of the best offensive seasons in Met history last year, with much of the production coming in the second half. It is tempting to look at the numbers and hope he can do it again.

I wouldn’t underestimate Delgado, and wouldn’t be shocked, but I would have to be conservative on this one. At his age, his injury history, and this year, if pushed I would bet against such a comeback.

The Mets can bring Delgado back at any time because the rosters have expanded, but they haven’t. Not even for a token PH appearance. I don’t see it happening based by the playing time Daniel Murphy is getting.

The Mets are hoping with maturity and increased knowledge of National League pitchers, Murphy will be able to increase his home run and RBI numbers, which would preclude the need for Delgado. Considering Murphy’s improvement after a slow start, it is not an unreasonable assumption.

Clearly, a healthy Delgado would be a better choice for a team with pennant aspirations, but considering their myriad of issues and needs, the Mets have to realistically evaluate whether they can even be a contender next season. And if not, what’s the point of having him around, even for $10 million?

They definitely can’t think of themselves as a contender, even with a healthy Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes with the current state of their pitching. OK, Johan Santana is likely to be fine, maybe so will Oliver Perez. However, Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are all serious questions. Given that, the Mets need to add two, maybe three quality starters.

Should they even be so bold to go after the Cubs Carlos Zambrano, who reportedly will be shopped this winter, that might not be enough. Zambrano comes with his own baggage, including a $50 million contract and two trips to the disabled list this summer. He’s no given, either.

The best FA pitcher is John Lackey, but he also has an injury history. The rest of the FA list includes Rich Harden, Randy Wolf, Jarrod Washburn, Jason Marquis and Joel Pineiro. You can also add Pedro Martinez, Doug Davis, Jon Garland, John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets.

The Mets had their chances at Harden, Wolf, Marquis and Pineiro, but either weren’t willing to pay enough in talent or dollars. Will they go down that path again?

The passed on re-signing Martinez. Smoltz, Bedard and Sheets have their own injury histories. Penny might be intriguing, but the Mets also passed on him.

And, let’s face it, the Mets don’t have enough resources to trade for Roy Halladay.

When look at those factors, can you really see the Mets dramatically improving over the winter?

Probably not, so why invest in Delgado? Murphy will do for another year until Ike Davis is ready.

It is better to get younger, save a little money, and yes, maybe even improve the clubhouse chemistry.