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.

Nov 12

Available free agent relievers ….

The following relievers will be available this winter in the free-agent market. Joe Beimel and Juan Cruz are intriguing, but are they worth throwing piles of money at? I’m not so sure.

Unquestionably, the Mets’ bullpen was horrible last season, but GM Omar Minaya’s analysis is wide ranging. Were the individuals simply bad and past their prime, or just had a bad season? To what degree were injuries a factor (Aaron Heilman)? How much did throwing out of their roles determine the results?

The Mets will add a body or two from this list, but I don’t see a major overhaul. If they don’t deal Heilman, and I’m starting to lean in the direction of them keeping him, the set-up relievers might not change that much.

I can see Heilman, Schoeneweis, Ayala, Feliciano and Smith coming back. I can also see Parnell or Kunz getting a shot. Then there’s the closer they’ll add, and the more I think of it, the more I can visualize it being Trevor Hoffman.

Here’s the list of available free-agent relievers:

Jeremy Affeldt CIN
Luis Ayala NYM
Joe Beimel LAD
Joe Borowski CLE
Juan Cruz ARZ

Brendan Donnelly BOS
Alan Embree * OAK
Scott Eyre CHC
Kyle Farnsworth DET
Casey Fossum DET

Brian Fuentes COL
Aaron Fultz CLE
Tom Gordon * PHI
LaTroy Hawkins HOU
Mark Hendrickson LAD

Trevor Hoffman SD
Bobby Howry CHC
Jason Isringhausen STL
Steve Kline SF
Brandon Lyon ARZ

Damaso Marte * NYY
Tom Martin COL
Julio Mateo PHI
Guillermo Mota MIL
Will Ohman CHC

Darren Oliver LAA
John Parrish SEA
Chris Reitsma SEA
Dennys Reyes MIN
Juan Rincon CLE

Francisco Rodriguez LAA
Brian Shouse MIL
Rafael Soriano ATL
Jorge Sosa NYM
Mike Stanton * CIN

Salomon Torres * MIL
Derrick Turnbow MIL
Oscar Villarreal ATL
David Weathers CIN
Dave Williams NYM

Matt Wise NYM
Kerry Wood CHC

Nov 11

What about Trevor Hoffman?

HOFFMAN: He could fill a void.

HOFFMAN: He could fill a void.

In a previous thread, Dave wondered about Trevor Hoffman. Well, what about him?

The San Diego Padres are rebuilding and withdrew a contract offer to Hoffman. The Mets, however, playing in New York, aren’t in a rebuilding mode despite being old in several areas.

They call it retooling.

So, should they “retool” with Hoffman if they aren’t able to land a marquee closer in the free-agent market? Hoffman is 41, and signing him does nothing about breaking away from Omar Minaya’s reputation for signing older players.

The Padres pulled off the table a one-year, $4 million deal, with a $4 million option for 2010. That’s not a lot of money. Hoffman converted 30 of 34 save opportunities, including 16 straight during one stretch.

Assuming Hoffman is willing to come to New York, and there’s been nothing written indicating he doesn’t want to, he would presumably fill the closer void until Bobby Parnell and Eddie Kunz are ready. That’s a plus.

Said agent Rick Thurman: “He’s a free agent. So many teams consider him to be a San Diego Padre. Not a lot of teams took him very seriously as a free agent. We’ll find out very shortly. A lot of teams need a closer. He’s the cream of the closers, and we’ll see what teams have interest in him.”

Last year’s numbers indicates he can still get the job done, but his age will be a concern, because you have to wonder when will the breakdown start?

Signing him does nothing about getting the Mets younger, but it does buy time for Parnell and Kunz, and gives them a mentor. It also addresses a need at a reasonable cost and enables them to spend most of their money on starting pitching.

While the first impression would be his age, remember the priority is winning and he’s a plus toward that goal. I know there’s not a groundswell for bringing in a 41-year-old closer, but if he makes them better it’s something they should consider.