9/26/2005 08:12:00 PM
�LET�S TAKE A MONMENT FORM THE PENANT RACES AND LOOK AT THE METS�
Here we are at the final week of the season and the only team with an �x� next to their name is the St Louis Cardinals. This week shapes up as one the best down the stretches we have seen in years and the Mets are part of it. Well, not in the mix as we had hoped but as the dreaded spoilers. I would think the last team the Fightin� Phills would want to darken the door way of �The Citz� are the Mets. After coming close to falling off the cliff the Mets have played some of their best baseball of the season winning 7 of their last 9 and finding a couple of very valuable bullpen pitchers in Juan Padilla (why was Miguel Cairo playing yesterday? Padilla would have been out of a bases loaded jam if he had someone at second base who doesn�t need a walker to get around) and Aaron Heilman who looks like he could be the set up man for the closer to be signed later by Omar Minaya. By the way, Omar can throw all his money at either Billy Wagner or B.J. Ryan, as he will save a bunch of coin if he stays with the very impressive Mike Jacobs at first base. Imagine if the Mets were bold enough to give Lastings Milledge a shot at a corner outfield spot (I have all but packed Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron off to greener pastures) hell, we might become the Cleveland Indians of the National League.
Willie does not see Heilman as the closer next year and neither do I. To me he looks like the perfect set up man:
[�I�m impressed with the way he�s throwing the ball since the All-star break.� Randolph said. �Not that he�s my closer now, and not that he�s going to be the closer next year. But it�s nice to see him get that experience. He�s still young�..We�ll see.
It seems that Willie has finally seen the light about the talents of Heilman. I guess not being from here Willie is finally getting why Mets fans are head over heels over the job Heilman has done this season as he is the definition of �late bloomer�. Wasn�t it just this past April we would have been happy for the Mets to trade Heilman for a bag of baseballs? For his part Heilman seems to be getting adjusted to life in the pen:
[As for what the future holds, Heilman isn�t looking to far ahead. �I definitely feel a lot more comfortable coming out of the bullpen, � Heilman said, �and I feel good about getting back to pitching like I should�.]
�NO MATTER WHAT, MIKE PIAZZA WILL ALWAYS BE A MET�
Throughout his Met career, Mike Piazza has been a tough read. He never came off as �one of the fellows� or a rah-rah guy. He never really hit it off with his managers except for Willie as he has nothing but praise for the rookie manager. But from reading the Star-Ledger yesterday, it seems that Mikey P is all but conceded he will play elsewhere next season but his heart will always be in Flushing. Piazza not only says he will request to go into the Hall of Fame as a Met, he has no regrets signing long term with the team as he felt it�s much better to be a Met than a filthy Highlander:
["I do feel like I've brought a lot more positives than negatives to the
team," Piazza said. "Looking back 20, 30 years from now, I'll always go,
'Wow, what an experience, to play in New York,' and to play in Queens, for
the Mets. Because with all due respect to the Yankees, there is a special
sort of identification with the Mets." ]
You can see that Mikey still wants to play and he will head on over to the American League and DH for a season or two then I can see him being part of the Mets TV network or maybe even as a spring training instructor. Most importantly it seems that Piazza has come to peace with the fact his Mets playing career is over. Good Luck Mikey and thank you.
�JOEL SHERMAN: COME OUT OF THE CLOSET�
I�m starting to think the man I like to call Pinstripe Pajamas is really a Mets fan. Sherman has spent a lot of time analyzing the Metropolitans as I guess he sees by next season there may be just standing room only on the Mets bandwagon:
[Another trade market beckons and, once again, Ramirez will be the biggest
name linked to the Mets. Minaya needs to get over it. That is not easy to
write. Ramirez is among the best hitters of my lifetime, and the Mets
desperately need another impact bat. But you don't just get his bat. You get
all of Ramirez.
You get his glove, which already is horrible and will play worse away from
the helpful Green Monster and with advancing years on his already slow,
indifferent body. You get "Manny being Manny." That means he will
emotionally disappear at times and even a Red Sox organization that knows
him best does not always know how to get him back. You will get Ramirez from
ages 34-36 with three years at $57 million left. So over the next three
years, you can expect decline from Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, two of your
three most expensive players.]
This may become another Sammy Sosa situation as I can see Omar being gun ho on acquiring Manny and his lieutenants trying to convince him to move on. When you first look at it your reaction is to step away and no one gets hurt but to add a bat of Ramirez� caliber is very tempting money be damned. But the biggest drawback is the age more so than money and personality. The age of 34 puts up a big red flag to me as I can see Manny starting to dip to .270 avg 25 HR 75 RBI range and the Mets are already paying big bucks for sub-par numbers like that (sorry Carlito) Better to look toward the Queen City and try and pry Adam Dunn from the Red Legs.
[BE THE HIGH BIDDERS ON B.J. RYAN AND BILLY WAGNER
The other closers likely available are not that attractive. Eddie Guardado
and Ugueth Urbina are worn down. Kyle Farnsworth and Mike MacDougal might
have trouble with the New York stage. A key failing by Willie Randolph was
defiantly sticking with Braden Looper despite overt evidence (lack of
strikeouts, inability to tame lefty hitters) that he could not handle the
job. Randolph should have taken a closer look at Aaron Heilman.
Nevertheless, Heilman would be a better choice to go with next year before
overpaying for someone you don't particularly like.]
I agree 100 % I love Ryan as he will be 30 years old next December although Wagner is no slouch either but I think the Phillies will make him am offer he can�t refuse where as I bet Ryan can�t wait to get out that mad house on Eutaw St. I would go after Everyday Eddie as well as he did some of his best work as a set up man for the Twins. How about this for a bullpen in 2006:
RHP Juan Padilla
RHP Aaron Heilman
LHP Eddie Guardado
RHP Roberto Hernandez
LHP B.J. Ryan
Is that a National League Pennant in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
[If not Vidro at first, then how about a low base salary and a lot of
incentives for Nomar Garciaparra? Like Vidro, Garciaparra has a history of
leg injuries and needs to reduce stress. He already is playing third for the
Cubs, showing a willingness to move positions. The superb play of rookie
Ryan Howard has made it obvious the Phillies need to deal Jim Thome. Would
they do so within the division? If so, how much of the $43.5 million owed
over three years would they eat? If they get down into the mid-20s, the Mets
should think seriously about buying, even with Thome's recent injury spree. ]
No to Vidro and no to Thome. The Nomar one could be interesting. Why not get Nomar to play second base but as Sherman says at a low base/big incentive contract? A move like this has Omar Minaya written all over it. This way you send Anderson Hernandez back to Norfolk as he is over matched by big league pitching and you have Jeff Kepinger as well coming off his knee injury ready to get the call if Nomar were to go DL. But with something to prove I could see Nomar coming into camp in tiptop shape. The big problem here is what to do with Kaz Matsui. Anyone know someone at the Immigration Dept?
[AVOID IVAN RODRIGUEZ]
[USE PATIENCE WITH MIKE CAMERON AND VICTOR ZAMBRANO
The Mets already missed their best window to trade both, which was in July.
Now they have to let the realities of a thin off season market hit teams.
Eventually, many clubs that need a center fielder will have Johnny Damon
price himself out or find the trade cost for Torii Hunter will be too high,
and Cameron will look more attractive, broken up face or not. With Zambrano,
the Mets are going to need a team that still believes in his stuff and hates
the easily dislikable free-agent market. The Mets also are going to have to
get over the idea of holding on to Zambrano simply because they stupidly
acquired him for Scott Kazmir.]
Sherman is on the mark here. This off season will harvest a poor crop of free agent, especially starting pitching. If Omar plays this right Cameron and The Zambrano Project will appeal to someone and they could bring a handsome sum. If Damon leaves Boston then the Sawx would be a very attractive location for Cameron as would his old home in Seattle. As for Zambrano, he has done a nice job out of the bullpen but in order to win favor with Mets fans and have them not think of Scott Kazmir every time he took the mound, he�d have to pitch a perfect game, win 20 games and pitch the clincher in the World Series. In other words see ya Victor!!!
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