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 26

Jan. 26.10: Sheets seems headed to Oakland; the rest of the market.

Ben Sheets appears to be headed to Oakland, yup, as far away from Citi Field as possible. That’s Oakland, a team, that does things on the cheap.

I can’t say how serious the Mets were, but they couldn’t have been that intent on getting.

Who’s left?

Jon Garland, John Smoltz, Jarrod Washburn and Chien-Ming Wang. Garland and Washburn are starters, and could pass as No. 5s, but didn’t we open the offseason thinking the Mets needed a No. 2?

Wang won’t be available until May and Smoltz would go to the pen.

The Mets are also looking at bringing back Fernando Tatis to platoon with Daniel Murphy at first base.

Jan 23

Jan. 23.10: Liking Garko over Tatis at first.

GARKO: Would help at first.

GARKO: Would help at first.

While the Mets are waiting to improve their pitching, it wouldn’t hurt to take a diversion and continue to add to their bench. There’s still a matter of the Daniel Murphy platoon at first base.

With Carlos Delgado not showing in winter ball he’s capable of the defensive end of it, why not go with Ryan Garko at first over Fernando Tatis?

Garko hit a combined .268 with 13 homers and 51 RBI last season for Cleveland and San Francisco. Tatis, who has been serviceable the last two seasons with the Mets, doesn’t have that power. Instead, he’ll be remembered for grounding into 13 double plays last year.

Garko won’t come at a high price, has some pop and plays first base by trade. I’d go with him over Tatis.

Jan 02

Jan. 2.10: Your Mets batting order.

Last night was one of those when I couldn’t fall asleep. Tossed and turned. The mind races at 2:30 in the morning, and for awhile last night it stopped at the Mets’ batting order.

What should it be?

Here’s what I came up with for now:

SS Jose Reyes: I’ve heard people say he should bat third, but I don’t see it now as nothing more than a waste of his speed.

2B Luis Castillo: He’s at his best taking pitches and advancing the runners.

3B: David Wright: He’ll hit for an average and hopefully regain his power stroke.

CF Carlos Beltran: He could bat third, too, but I wanted a lefty to separate him and Jason Bay.

LF: Jason Bay: Offers protection for Beltran.

RF Jeff Francoeur: Tempted to drop him down and flip with Murphy to go right-left-right-left, but opted to put two power guys back-to-back. Unfortunately, I have two strikeout guys in a row.

1B Daniel Murphy: With three guys ahead of him who’ll get on base he should have some RBI opportunities.

C: Santos/Blanco platoon: Somebody has to hit eighth and I don’t want it to be Castillo.

P: Pitcher’s slot.

Of course, this changes if they get Bengie Molina or somehow find a taker for Castillo.

Your thoughts?

Sep 29

Issues, issues and more issues ….

The Mets have as many issues as a year of Sports Illustrated. They also have a general manager, Omar Minaya, poised for another four years to answer them. Here’s what I see as the most pertinent issues facing the Mets.

1. JERRY MANUEL: Will Minaya bring back the manager who took over a floundering team and guided them into contention until the final day? And with him, his coaching staff? The Mets were fading under Willie Randolph when Manuel replaced him in June. With pretty much the same talent, the Mets turned it around. MY OPINION: Manuel should be brought back. This team worked hard for him and hustled. Talent issues beyond his control is why they failed.

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?


2. CARLOS DELGADO: The struggling first baseman transformed into the slugging first baseman shortly after Manuel took over. Coincidence? Delgado says no and is annoyed with the suggestion. But, his numbers were impressive enough to merit MVP consideration. The Mets could pick up his option for $16 million or offer a $4 million buyout. Was Delgado’s second half a fluke? That’s a tough one. MY OPINION: If the Mets believe they are a contender and make some early moves to fix the pen, then Delgado should be brought back. It would be one less hassle. Should they go this route, there should not be an extension. Make him earn it. HOWEVER, if the Mets remain stagnant and believe they are in a rebuilding mode, then give him the buyout and go young. In this case, I would send Daniel Murphy to the Arizona Fall League for instruction at first. Nick Evans, too.

3. SECOND BASE: Ramon Martinez was a spark the final week of the season, but in the end, he’s still a retread player. Damion Easley is a role player I want back. Luis Castillo is not the answer. MY OPINION: Castillo can’t play here. I would try to trade him with the understanding of eating most of his salary. If they can’t do that then dump him and eat the whole thing. If this is a platoon position next year, so be it.

4. LEFT FIELD: Moises Alou can’t go in a time machine. The Mets finished the season platooning Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans and Fernando Tatis, with Endy Chavez coming in late for defense. I can see them doing that again, but acquiring a full time outfielder would be better. MY OPINION: Whatever they do, it should not be Manny Ramirez. I think they should look for a full time outfielder, but don’t overpay because they have more pressing issues.

5. STARTING PITCHING: They have two spots that are in question, Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez. Martinez was never completely healthy and was lost with the death of this father. His fastball faded and he proved to be a five-inning guy. Half of Perez’s 34 starts were no-decisions and he finished at 10-8, the numbers for a fifth starter. MY OPINION: Perez won’t come at a fifth starter’s salary. With agent Scott Boras, he’ll demand a lot. If the Mets want him, they should make their best offer during their negotiating window and sign him before CC Sabathia sets the market. If Boras says no, then fine and move on. I don’t see Perez ever becoming a No. 1. As far as Martinez, he wants to pitch and I’d bring him back as a fifth starter.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.


6. BULLPEN: With the exception of Joe Smith, I can see a complete housecleaning. Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis are under contract, but so what? Twenty-nine blown saves should mean everybody is vulnerable. MY OPINION: Minaya won’t bring back seven new arms. I’d look at Brian Fuentes before Francisco Rodriguez as the closer because of economics (they are already paying Billy Wagner $11 million not to close next year). The bridge is essential. I’d give Eddie Kunz and Bobby Parnell a shot in spring training to close. Winter ball might not be a bad idea, either. Brian Stokes, Smith, Luis Ayala and Pedro Feliciano I can see coming back. They’ve listened to trade offers for Heilman before. Now is the time to do it, because he’s gone once he’s a free agent. It’s one thing to think overhaul, but it’s another to actually do it. They have to realistic in that the entire pen can’t be replaced.

This will be the offseason Minaya earns his money.