Feb 08

Feb. 8.10: Let’s not get carried away.

The Mets got some positive news when 21–year-old outfield prospect Fernando Martinez was named MVP of the Caribbean Series. They should, however, resist the temptation to say he’s ready because it was a 23-at-bat sampling in which he hit .348 with two home runs. The Mets have rushed prospects before and I don’t want to see them toy with Martinez’s confidence.

Assuming the best on Carlos Beltran, I’m sure center field will be safe with Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr., in the interim, which should be a couple of months. Martinez wouldn’t get regular at-bats and would only be sent down once Beltran is ready.

I’m still thinking the prudent decision would be for him to get regular playing time in Triple-A and then make an evaluation around the All-Star break whether he should be promoted for the second half.

Jan 28

Jan. 28.10: Around the horn.

PEREZ: Yawn ... says he feels good.

PEREZ: Yawn ... says he feels good.

Oliver Perez closed mini-camp with a strong side session and said he’s comfortable with his mechanics. Pitching coach Dan Warthen is trying to get him to make a longer stride with his lead leg which will help him drive toward the plate. Theoretically, that’s supposed to help with his control. But, I’ve lost track of all of Perez’s mechanical adjustments designed to help his command. We shall see.

* All indications are the Mets are about to bring back Fernando Tatis. For a role player, Tatis has done pretty good for himself as he’s about to get his third year in the majors after leaving the game. Tatis’ primary asset is his versatility that enables him to play the infield and outfield corners and second base in a pinch. Tatis will be used primarily to platoon with Daniel Murphy at first base.

* John Smoltz said he’s interested in signing with the Mets. He’s being recruited by former Braves teammate Jeff Francoeur.

* Manager Jerry Manuel said Bobby Parnell won’t compete for the fifth starter job in spring training but to compete for the set-up role. Kelvim Escobar is also a candidate for that job. Of course, if Smoltz were signed for the bullpen it would bump everybody down a notch.

Jan 25

Jan. 25.10: Who’s on first …. besides Murphy.

One scout said Carlos Delgado is acutally limping at first base and showing no range. “I can’t see it,” the scout told reporters when asked about Delgado playing first base for the Mets. Delgado, physically, is resembling a broken down DH. You know, DHs even need to run.

So, who’s it going to be as Murphy’s back-up at first base? Should they bring back Fernando Tatis or sign Ryan Garko. Or, do you have anybody else in mind?

Tatis has the edges in familiarity and versatility. The Mets know he can play both infield and outfield corners and second in a pinch. Garko is strictly a fist baseman, but he does have the power advantage.

Jan 16

Jan. 16.10: Can’t anybody around here communicate?

MINAYA: Said team didn't give OK.

MINAYA: Said team didn't give OK.

Mets GM Omar Minaya said things are good between the Mets and Carlos Beltran. Among other things, he did say he spoke with Beltran before the surgery, but didn’t OK the surgery.

He said there was no need for any side to apologize, but also said: “I did not say not to have surgery. What I said to him was, ‘I’m happy to hear there’s a plan in place, but we have to go through the protocol.’ He said the plan was to be operated on (Wednesday). At that point in time, I had not heard from my doctors on whether we had agreed to it or not. I didn’t tell him not to do it. I said as long as the protocol is met, that type of stuff.’’

So, the team endorsed the idea of surgery but didn’t OK it? Sounds muddled to me.

I’m thinking Beltran figures since he spoke with Minaya that he believes protocol was met. OK, so the Mets didn’t take out an ad to say go ahead and do it. But, since their was communication, they had plenty of opportunities to say NO, if they were uncomfortable. But, if they were uncomfortable why would they have sent the workers compensation papers needed for the surgery?

Either way, I wouldn’t be too quick to believe it’s paradise with Beltran and the Mets.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks designated Eric Byrnes for assignment. He is to make $11 million next year.

Also:

* FoxSports reported the Mets are in contact with free-agent Jerry Hairston Jr., who can play both the infield and outfield. Hairston, 33, hit .251 with 34 extra base hits in 131 games for the Reds and Yankees last season.

* On the arbitration front, John Maine avoided the process and signed a one-year deal worth $3.3 million plus incentives.

Also, Pedro Feliciano, Jeff Francoeur, Sean Green and Angel Pagan filed.

No surprises on any of that, as the Mets traditionally avoid the arbitration process.

Dec 08

Mets’ Winter Meetings shopping list.

MINAYA: Will he hit one out of the park this week?

MINAYA: Will he hit one out of the park this week?

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings officially start today, but Mets GM was out last night meeting with Francisco Rodriguez’s agent. Over the next four days, Minaya is likely to have a face-to-face with Rodriguez, and other closers Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman.

“I expect to leave with players,’’ Minaya said last night. “I think there’s a chance that hopefully we can get something done here.’’
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the Mets’ needs and options:

BULLPEN

The situation: The Mets blew 29 save opportunities last season, seven of them in the ninth inning. A closer is desperately needed, but so is the bridge to that closer. Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith and Brian Stokes are under contract for next year, so it’s not likely there will be an overhaul.

Options:
They’ve targeted Rodriguez as their first choice, but would be willing to go elsewhere if the price is right. There’s a lot to like about Rodriguez, but there are concerns with his diminished velocity and violent delivery that could make him vulnerable to injury. Fuentes would be less expensive, and Hoffman would command fewer years. Hoffman could be had for a year plus an option, and by that time the Mets might know more about Bobby Parnell and Ed Kunz. The Mets like Kerry Wood, but his injury history makes him a risk. The Mets also like Colorado’s Huston Street, but are waiting for the price to drop.

STARTING PITCHING
The situation: The Mets are three deep with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine, but the latter is coming off surgery. That leaves two holes if they don’t bring back Oliver Perez. Jon Niese will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Options: The Mets aren’t players for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and had targeted Scott Boras client Derek Lowe. However, his asking price is a reported $18 million, and they’ll have to compete with Boston and the Yankees. The Mets might end up overpaying for Perez, go with Niese in the fifth spot, and there’s always the chance of bringing back Pedro Martinez for a year. Brad Penny and innings-eater Livan Hernandez are also in the market.

OUTFIELD
The situation: The Mets envision a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis in left field. Their needs for pitching and the asking price would seem to preclude them from Manny Ramirez, whom they sought several years ago.

Options: Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are out there, but the Mets don’t seem enamored with them. And, the Mets figure to hold consistent to spend on pitching before adding a bat to the line-up, that although inconsistent, still was second in the National League in scoring.

INFIELD
The situation: David Wright and Jose Reyes aren’t going anywhere, and neither will Carlos Delgado, who has a no-trade clause. Dealing Delgado merely creates another hole. The Mets would love to rid themselves of Luis Castillo’s contract.

Options: The same reason the Mets want to deal Castillo is why they won’t. An aging, injury-prone and non-productive player aren’t on many teams’ wish lists, so the Mets will retain the status quo.

CATCHER
The situation: The Mets would like to upgrade if they could from Brian Schneider, but it’s not regarded as a necessity.

Options: With other priorities, they won’t likely do anything here.