Jan 15

Santana endorses Perez return

Oliver Perez is 27, lefthanded and can throw the hell out of the ball. He is also inconsistent and for all his natural skills was 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA last season. This after a seemingly breakout year in 2007.

Mets ace Johan Santana endorsed his return to GM Omar Minaya in a conference call yesterday.

“I think has learned a lot from last year,” Santana said. “I had a great time with him and hopefully Omar will be able to keep him. He matured. He learned every game is important.

“I told him from the beginning, it doesn’t matter what you do tomorrow, you have to learn from today. Sometimes he lets his emotions take over, so he could be more mature this year. Hopefully, Omar and his agent will find a way to keep him in New York. He’s not just a great guy, but a good pitcher, too. He’s going to be a good one.”

The Mets’ current thinking is $30 million over three years, but Perez’s agent, Scott Boras, wants more in both money and years, with reports of $52 million over four years.

That’s more money than Perez is worth based on production, but the thing about these contracts is they are also based on potential.

Do you believe Santana? Do you believe Perez has learned enough to take the next step? Is he worth the fourth year?

Dec 23

Wright to play for Team USA ….

WRIGHT: To play for Team USA. PHOTO: Mets

WRIGHT: To play for Team USA. PHOTO: Mets

After Alex Rodriguez opted to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic this spring, and with Chipper Jones expected to be the DH, third base opened up for David Wright. Team USA will have an all-New York left side of the infield with the Yankees’ Derek Jeter at shortstop.

Wright will likely be the only Met playing for Team USA, but the Mets could also send Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico), Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez (Venezuela), and Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic).

I found it interesting that Phillies Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels said they preferred getting their work in during spring training and preparing for the season to play for the team that pays them. Yankees’ CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett said the same thing.

Yes, I am well aware a player can get hurt anywhere, but I’m especially wary about pitchers throwing in game conditions that early in the spring. But, that’s just me. Does anybody have a problem with players leaving teams during spring training to prepare for the WBC and exposing themselves to injury.

Dec 11

Omar kept his word ….

MINAYA: Came through in the clutch.

MINAYA: Came through in the clutch.

After the season, GM Omar Minaya vowed to fix the bullpen. It’s one thing to get one stud closer, it’s another to get two. And, he did. The need was to add power arms to the bullpen, and he couldn’t have done better.

That JJ Putz is looking forward to setting up Francisco Rodriguez, eliminates the ego problem. Also encouraging is both players want to play in New York. Rodriguez has thrived under pressure in big games before, so this in not a new environment for him.

Minaya isn’t done. There’s still a starter that needs to be added, but so far he’s done real well. Real well.

Dec 11

Analyzing the deal ….

The Mets’ weakness could now be considered a strength, especially if the issues surrounding Francisco Rodriguez don’t materialize. Putz becomes the closer if they do.

Duaner Sanchez now becomes the primary seventh-inning guy, and they still have Scott Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano for match-ups. With who is remaining the pen should be strong enough.

HEILMAN: It was time to leave.

HEILMAN: It was time to leave.

In losing Aaron Heilman: The Mets say good-bye to a pitcher whose heart wasn’t in his role. It has been getting increasingly difficult for him to pitch in New York.

In losing Endy Chavez: The Mets lose late-inning defense and a strong sub. His loss might accelerate Fernando Martinez to the major leagues in that role. Reportedly, the Mets are talking to Los Angeles. Andruw Jones anyone? Or Juan Pierre?

In losing Joe Smith: The Mets lose a quality reliever whom they’ll miss, but they are so much better now.

Nov 20

On the Table: What is Heilman’s future with Mets?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

We’ve had this conversation before about Aaron Heilman and we’re having it again because he brought it up. Heilman’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said the pitcher wants out of the bullpen, and if not, then out of New York.

“The object the entire time has never been to get out of New York,” Rodgers told The Daily News. “The object is to get out of the bullpen. The most success he’s ever had as a pitcher has been as a starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Mets as a starting pitcher.”

Currently, the Mets, who have contractual control, favor the status quo while they shop for a starter. Heilman made made 25 starts from 2003 to 2005, going 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA, but was moved to the pen in the spring of 2006 when Brian Bannister – since traded – won a spot in the rotation. Heilman was 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA and five blown saves.

The Mets are attributing much of Heilman’s bad year to a knee problem, which if healed by rest, would make trading him a hasty decision.

Well, what to do?

-Should they trade him and risk him healing and being productive elsewhere?

-Should they give him a chance to compete in spring training for the fifth starter role, with the understanding he’ll go back to the pen if he doesn’t earn the job?

-Should they tell him to shut up and pitch in the pen, knowing he’s gone once he becomes a free agent?