Dec 17

Are Mets bidding against themselves for Bay?

The Mets are in serious negotiations with outfielder Jason Bay, and are presumably the team with the most interest.

Seattle, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco also have interest, but it is considered minimal in comparison to the Mets’ package of $65-million over four years, which they reportedly are willing to increase with a fifth year.

Given this, it might be time for the Mets to play hardball with their best and final offer, telling Bay to take it or leave it. Then, they can go after some pitching.

Dec 15

Sorting things out ….

BAY: Still on Mets' radar, but they'd better hurry.

BAY: Still on Mets' radar, but they'd better hurry.

The Mets are dealing with the fall out from the bombshell dealings of yesterday.

I don’t know if stonewalling Jason Bay was a ruse by the Red Sox to get John Lackey. I didn’t think they were going to get him anyway, and it has nothing to do with them misreading the pitching market.

Even so, they should be more aggressive in their pursuit for him if he’s their target. Let’s face it, he has to be because they aren’t going to give Matt Holliday what the Cardinals are reportedly willing to do.

If the Mets think Bay will “fall back” to them like Johan Santana did, they could be mistaken. The first impression, and I had it yesterday, was Seattle wouldn’t go for him because they’ll need the money for Cliff Lee.

Perhaps that was premature.

Wouldn’t Seattle be a little more enticing to Lee if there was power in that line-up? Maybe, with Lee, the Mariners see an opening to win this year and will still pursue Bay. Truth is, the Mariners haven’t said Bay is no longer an option.

And, what about the Angels? With Lackey gone and Halladay no longer an option, they have to be looking to do something. Bay was on their radar before. He might still be on it unless the Angels are bent on those middle-tier arms the Mets have been talking about. Truth is, for what they saved in Lackey, they might be able to swing both Bay and a pitcher. And, Bay has to be a better option than Hideki Matsui.
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Dec 14

Big pitching deals ….

John Lackey to the Red Sox. Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Cliff Lee to Seattle. They are all coming down.

Lackey to the Red Sox in an $82.5-million, five-year deal pending a physical. The Red Sox have been tied to a lot of things, but this one seems to have come out of the blue. That’s a lot of money and it probably precludes them signing Matt Holliday.

The Mets were never in it for Lackey, but this deal could help them land Jason Bay. The Red Sox say they aren’t giving Bay a fifth year. Unless they are bluffing, there doesn’t seem to a chance they’ll go back to Bay. But, the Mets would have to up their offer to a fifth year.

The Mets were also never in it for Halladay, either, because they didn’t have the minor league talent to get it down.
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Jan 28

Heilman traded to Cubs

Aaron Heilman’s stay in Seattle was shorter than some of his appearances on the mound this summer. Heilman was traded to the Cubs today for infielder Ronny Cedeno and pitcher Garrett Olson.

Immediate speculation is this deal would enable the Cubs to free up some of their young pitching to re-start trade talks with San Diego for Jake Peavy.

Dec 17

Rodriguez eyes big year ….

RODRIGUEZ: Expects big numbers this summer.

RODRIGUEZ: Expects big numbers this summer.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel stood at the podium and in a classic photo opportunity helped his closer, Francisco Rodriguez, put on his new jersey.

“Seventy-five,’’ Manuel said as he looked at the number. “That’s the number of saves he’s going to have.’’

Rodriguez, introduced this afternoon at the Citi Bank Building in Long Island City, understands the math.

“I’m aware of what is expected,’’ said Rodriguez, who expects the same after his record 62 saves last season for the Angels earned him a three-year, $37 million contract with the Mets.

“Every year I come to spring training with the goal to have better numbers than I had the year before.’’

Why the Mets?

Besides money, Rodriguez said his decision “was easy … they are one team that is hungry to win.’’

General manager Omar Minaya said the acquisitions of Rodriguez, and J.J. Putz from Seattle, who’ll be introduced tomorrow at Citi Field, have solved the Mets’ bullpen problem, which was defined by 29 blown saves last season.

“One thing we lacked last year was being able to close out a game, but we went out and got the best closer in the game,’’ Minaya said of Rodriguez.