Oct 30

Welcome to the 2009 Hot Stove season ….

As the Phillies were rolling around on the infield last night much to the dismay of most Mets fans, take solace in that 2008 is officially over. The last out of the World Series officially brings with it the start of the 2009 season, although the Mets have been thinking for the past month about what went wrong and what to do about it.

It’s time to build GM Omar Minaya’s shopping list for the Hot Stove Season.

Here’s my list:

1. Starter #1: Fixing the bullpen begins first with fixing the rotation. They need to add a starter to begin shaving innings from the bullpen total. They will attempt to re-sign Oliver Perez and add a solid, but not spectacular starter such as Derek Lowe.

2. Closer: The Phillies proved a dominant closer is better than a closer-by-committee format. Brian Fuentes appears first on their list. The money is too steep for Francisco Rodriguez.

3. Starter #2: The Mets need fifth starter. They could go in the market, they could gamble with Jon Niese or they could bring back Pedro Martinez.

4. Adding bullpen depth: The Mets’ bullpen blew 29 saves, but Billy Wagner only coughed it up seven times. There were a lot of collapses in the seventh and eighth innings. Help is needed.

5. Bench (right-handed hitting outfielder): Fernando Tatis should be re-signed, I could go with the platoon of he and Daniel Murphy. Adding a proven bat would be beneficial, but not at the expense of adding pitching.

6. Re-signing Carlos Delgado: It’s doubtful Delgado will duplicate last season’s second half, but there shouldn’t be that big a dropoff. I don’t understand the eagerness of some to trade him. Afterall, for a team with holes, trading him adds another. Delgado does have a no-trade clause so it will cost something to get him to waive it.

Oct 22

What if?

Kazmir: What if the Mets won that trade?

Kazmir: What if the Mets won that trade?

It goes without saying the Scott Kazmir trade was disastrous for the Mets. But, imagine for a moment, the trade worked and Rick Peterson was able to fix the very damaged Victor Zambrano.

Let’s say the Mets turned it around in 2004 and made a run at the playoffs. They were four games under .500 at the time of the trade and finished the season 20 games under. That brought the end of Jim Duquette as general manager and ushered in Omar Minaya.

Would Minaya have come if the Mets finished that season as a competitive team? With Minaya came Pedro Martinez, then Carlos Beltran, then Carlos Delgado. It’s interesting to wonder what might have happened had Zambrano panned out.

We all know what happened with Kazmir.

Oct 20

On the Table: Mets free-agent list. Who stays or goes?

Perez: Is he worth the bucks?

Perez: Is he worth the bucks?

When you come down to it, it’s not a “must have’’ list of the Mets’ own free-agents. Sure, they’d like lefty Oliver Perez back, but nobody really expects it, and truth is they can live without him.

The follow is a list of the Mets’ free-agents to be and those players arbitration eligible.

FREE AGENTS

-LF Moises Alou: Say good-night, Moises.

-INF Marlon Anderson: Nice knowing you.

-RHP Luis Ayala: Could be brought back.

-OF Endy Chavez: Could be brought back, but never as a starter.

-2B Damion Easley: I like him, but Mets should go younger on the bench.

-RHP Orlando Hernandez: Time to write his autobiography.

-RHP Pedro Martinez: Doesn’t want to retire, but is only fifth starter caliber right now.

-2B Ramon Martinez: Made impact, but age won’t let Mets consider him for job.

-LHP Oliver Perez: Wants mega bucks. Doesn’t deserve them.

-LHP Ricardo Rincon: Won’t be missed.

-OF Fernando Tatis: Deserves to return.

-RHP Matt Wise: Good-bye.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE

The following are arbitration eligible: RF Ryan Church, LHP Pedro Feliciano, RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Duaner Sanchez, RHP John Maine and OF Angel Pagan.

Oct 10

Who gets the ball?

Would you give Sabathia all that money?

Would you give Sabathia all that money?

The Mets are staring at two holes in their rotation with the possible losses of Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez. The free-agent market has options with CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. So, you’re Omar. Who gets the money? Would you give Sabathia $150 million?

Do you re-sign either Perez or Martinez and go elsewhere?
Do you re-sign both Perez and Martinez?
Do you go elsewhere to fill both holes?
Do you give the ball to Jon Niese for the season and take your lumps?

THE FREE AGENT MARKET FOR STARTING PITCHERS

Kris Benson (33)
A.J. Burnett (32) – can opt out after ’08 season
Paul Byrd (38)
Roger Clemens (46)
Matt Clement (33)

Bartolo Colon (36)
Ryan Dempster (32)
Shawn Estes (36)
Josh Fogg (32)
Freddy Garcia (33)

Jon Garland (29)
Tom Glavine (43)
Mike Hampton (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Livan Hernandez (34)

Orlando Hernandez (43)
Jason Jennings (30)
Randy Johnson (45)
John Lackey (30) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Jon Lieber (39)

Braden Looper (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (33) – club option for ’09
Derek Lowe (36)
Greg Maddux (43)
Pedro Martinez (37)

Sergio Mitre (28)
Jamie Moyer (46)
Mark Mulder (31) – $11MM club option for ’09 with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Mussina (40)
Carl Pavano (33) – $13MM club option for ’09 with a $1.95MM buyout

Brad Penny (31) – $8.75MM club option for ’09 with a $2MM buyout
Odalis Perez (32)
Oliver Perez (27)
Andy Pettitte (37)
Sidney Ponson (32)

Mark Prior (27)
Kenny Rogers (44)
Glendon Rusch (34)
C.C. Sabathia (28)
Curt Schilling (42)

Ben Sheets (30)
John Smoltz (42)
Tim Wakefield (42) – perpetual $4MM club option
Kip Wells (32)
Randy Wolf (32)

Oct 02

Minaya: “Something is missing.”

Minaya: Has a lot of work to do.

Minaya: Has a lot of work to do.

One of the first things Omar Minaya said this morning on a conference call to announce his contract extension through 2012 (with club options for 2013 and 2014), was to admit something is wrong with the make-up of his team.

“There is something there, something missing, that the club needs to get over,” Minaya said.

Minaya singled out the bullpen as the area of main concern, but did not name and possible FA replacements.

“One of the top areas we need to address is the bullpen and the closer,” Minaya said. “There’s only a few guys in the game what we say can, ‘lock-out an inning,’ so we’ll have to look in the market place, or look internally, because for a championship team that is very important.”

To fill that void, and the projected starting pitching void without Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez, Minaya said he would listen to trade offers for anyone, and that includes core players David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.

Minaya called the trio, “winning players,” but added, “we owe it to ourselves to look at all areas. I’m going to be open-mined all winter.”

Minaya, however, isn’t shopping these three, and I got the impression this was GM clichespeak, in that all GM’s say they will listen to any proposals that could improve the team.

Minaya also said:

-Discussions are on-going on a contract extension for manager Jerry Manuel. It’s believed the Mets have a two-year deal on the table but Manuel is thinking three.

-The team is interested in bringing back Carlos Delgado, and has told his agent this.

-He’s interested in having Oliver Perez return and said he made progress.

-Said the team is waiting to complete its investigation and let the legal process take its course before making a decision on troubled reliever Ambiorix Burgos.