Jan 21

Maine, Mets at salary odds again

MAINE: Meet in the middle.

MAINE: Meet in the middle.

Last spring, after negotiations failed to produce a deal, the Mets renewed John Maine as is their right. They are $800,000 apart this year.

Maine wants $3 million after going 10-8 last year in 25 starts, his year cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Mets are at $2.2 million.

Here’s a thought: Why not meet in the middle?

I can see both sides on this one. Mets: Maine won five less games and is coming off an injury. Maine: Regarded as a rotation key with big expectations.

Jan 19

Sheets: Risk/Reward.

The more I think about it, the more I believe there is an upside to signing Ben Sheets. Yes, he has an injury history, but his history also includes 31 starts and 198 innings last season with Milwaukee.

The market is running away from Sheets, but the Mets should be able to sign him to a year plus an option with a contract loaded with incentives. If Sheets proves healthy, he’d be a great pick up.

Of course, signing Sheets shouldn’t be the Mets only move with spring training a month away. There’s still Randy Wolf and Andy Pettitte to consider, not to mention Oliver Perez. Remember, we’re talking about the fourth or fifth starter, so I wouldn’t dismiss Pettitte so easily.

Jan 14

Santana: WBC is Mets’ call.

SANTANA: WBC up in the air.

SANTANA: WBC up in the air.

Johan Santana plans to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but said that won’t be his call.

“It will be a medical decision,’’ Santana said this morning in a conference call. “The team will need to approve it. … There are a lot of things here that the Mets want to protect, and if they don’t want me to play I will not play.’’

Santana had arthroscopic surgery in October to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and has not begun his off-season throwing.

He will be examined next week in Port St. Lucie, and then could begin a long-toss throwing program.

“I want to play, but at this point I don’t really know what’s going to happen,’’ Santana said. “If everything is not right they will not let me go.’’