Just Say No To Delgado

Well, if you consider NOT signing a dodgy-fielding first baseman with enormous power who hits equally well for average, a success, then I guess we can assess that Omar's magic touch is still in intact. Even though Carlos Delgado signed with the Marlins rather than the Mets and added insult to injury by claiming he chose to sign with the Marlins largely because they have the best chance of competing for a championship among the four finalists for his services, there are many different ways to spin this, some of them valid, some of them absurd.

First of all, adding yet another long term, big money contract (Delgado ended up signing for $52 million over four years) was probably not in the best interests of the Mets' long term interests. You can't buy everyone and even if you can, it doesn't necessarily buy success.

Getting Doug Mientkiewicz instead of Delgado to fill first base, at first glance, seems like a pretty small consolation prize but as Baseball America notes:

"Mientkiewicz is a career .272/.363/.404 hitter with 44 homers and 276 RBIs in 692 games, including a pair of .300-plus seasons under his belt. He has limited power, but posts good on-base percentages and is an excellent contact hitter. One of the better defensive first basemen around, he won a Gold Glove in 2001."

Of course, he isn't a slugging, left-handed swinging cleanup hitter, like Delgado but then again, who is? What probably hurts more is that every time the Mets play the Marlins this season, there will be that nagging questions: if we had Delgado, what difference would it make? Or, if Delgado kills Met pitching all summer every time they meet, well, the I-told-you-so chants will kick in a loud chorus.

Omar said the Mientkiewicz trade is likely his last major move before spring training so like it or not, welcome back Piazza, Floyd and Cameron.

The Daily Yomiuri says the Kaz Man is ready for his move to second base. He might not have to worry about it much. If Hamstring Jose has his typical season, most of it will be spent frustrating himself on the DL and the Kaz Man will be playing short for half the season anyway.

But, IF Jose Reyes stays healthy, the double switch will seem like a miracle performance and will solidify what will be a very good defensive infield.

"I feel great. I played a lot, like 50 games, no days off, with no problems, and that's the most important thing. I feel 100% and ready to go," Hamstring Jose claims. "Last year I had a lot of problems, and right now I have no problems in my body.". Hopefully, that's true and if so, Hamstring Jose might prove to be more important to the Mets than Carlos Beltran OR The Pedro.

The biggest problem for me about this signing is that Delgado signed with a team that is our own division rival, improving an already-strong team further still. The Marlins, Braves, and Phillies are all formidable opponents and is now perhaps, the toughest divsion in the National League. (What?? More formidable than the Cubs-Cardinals-Astros troika? More frightening that the Dodgers/Giants/Padres trio?) Well, in a word, yes. No team has been more resilient in the regular season than the Braves. The Marlins are one year removed from the World Championship and the Phillies, potentially anyway, could prove to be a very tough, albeit very expensive team, now that Larry Bowa isn't there to mismanage them for another season.

So if a Met is to bemoan the failure to sign Carlos Delgado, do so because the Marlins signed him, not because the Mets didn't. This signing wouldn't matter as much if he'd have gone to the Rangers, in another baseball league far, far away.


O Winter Doldrums and Oft Repeated Rumours!

Since I'm growing weary at the slow pace of both the drearily sweeping broom of the potential Mike Cameron to the A's for Loco and a worn out reliever trade and even more weary with the Mets In Final Four For Delgado Sweepstakes non-news dairy product, I thought I'd break the snooze pattern of the news and have a reasonably brief and somewhat shallow look at where everybody else in the NL East stands to date.

Atlanta Braves
Record in 2004: 96-66, first place

BIG off season moves involved getting outstanding and young starting pitcher Tim Hudson from the Oakland A's in response to our signing of Pedro. Hudson v Pedro will probably favour the Mets this season and according to Hudson, if he isn't signed by the Braves by March, he will be a free agent next season. So if the Braves don't ante up quick, this will be a one and out year for their future starting pitcher. They also got reliever/closer Dan Kolb from Milwaukee and Jorge Vasquez from Kansas City. And of course, if you're like me you wonder Jorge Who? and then you realise he didn't even merit having his face on the ESPN player page. Just No Photo Available - rather ominous.

In between gaining and losing is the John Smoltz story. Smoltz will go from great closer to starting pitcher this season. I'm not so sure about this one. He's been a closer for several seasons now. How does the arm suddenly readjust to starting again?

They also lost Antonio Alfonseca to the rival Marlins, which you may or may not argue is a good thing. They saw starter Paul Byrd fly off to the Angels, lost a future star in reliever Jose Capellan (in the Kalb trade), lost another future pitcher in Juan Cruz to Oakland. More pitching was lost when Russ Ortiz was dramatically overpaid by the Diamondbacks and Jaret Wright was overpaid by the Yankees. No harm in any of those losses but they still need to be replaced.

Unless you think Julio Franco and his Social Security bones are the offensive answer to the Braves batting woes, the loss of JD Drew has not been compensated for. They lost three fair to middling starters, gained one very good starter and possibly inherited another if Smoltz's move works (but even if it does, they lost one of baseball's best closers in the process and replaced him with a Milwaukee Brewer.)

I dunno. So far, the Braves look to have been wounded more than helped by the offseason. Then again, they are the Braves and I suppose no matter who they lose and who they gain, there will be suprises and there will be pitchers you never heard of suddenly winning 15 games for them.

Philadelphia Phillies:
Record in 2004: 86-76, second place

Losing Larry Bowa is a plus, no question. Whether or not the answer was Charlie Manuel would require a redefinition of the question: What In the World Do I Hate More Than Recycled Managers? - recycled managers with losing records!

Fortunately for Phillies fans, at least Manuel was fired from the Indians in 2002 still 31 losses shy of a career losing record so, well done. Then again, you'd have been hard pressed to find a worse answer than Larry Bowa so there wasn't all that far to fall to begin with.

Otherwise, the Phillies were relatively quiet. They answered their CF leadoff hitter problems by trading Felix Rodriguez to the Yankees for Kenny Lofton.

And, in their tireless quest for recycled Yankee rejects, they signed free agent pitcher Jon Lieber, to an aggrediously inflated three-year contract.

They lost the way overpayed and frankly disappointing Eric Milton. Bravo. They lost Kevin Millwood to the Indians. A rapidly sinking career.

They shucked almost as much flotsam from their 2004 starting rotation as the Braves but don't get nearly as much in return. Then again, not having Bowa overstring the starting lineup every night will be worth 10 wins all by itself next season.

Florida Marlins
Record in 2004: 83-79, third place

Lost ace Carl Pavano. In return, Al Leiter. Not a good swap for starters. We are well familiar with Al Leiter's deficiencies as a starter and a clubhouse politician. They signed Todd Jones, whom the Phillies didn't want, to a one-year contract.

They signed free agent pitcher Antonio Alfonseca from the rival Braves. Overall, unexciting, unless they manage to pry Carlos Delgado from the Mets.

Montreal Expos Washington Nats
Record in 2004: 67-95, last place

It's a busy offseason when you move your franchise from one country to another, change your team's nickname, hire a temporary GM, elicit the political equivilent of a food fight in America's capital over a stadium deal for a franchise that might have not even stayed in America's capital, FAILED to find a buyer for their franchise and remain doomed to be owned by an owner's collective AND still find time to sign a few free agents.

Signed switch hitting shortstop Cristian Guzman and his .685 career OPS to a 4 year deal.

Signed the 200 year old Vinny Castillo to a two year deal. Castillo, by the way, was like alot of players, fantastic at Coors Field for the Rockies last season and absolute crap on the road. .324 batting average at home, .221 away is about all you need to know about my cousin Vinny. To his credit though, he hit 21 homers on the road and only 14 at home. His .275-35-131 stats for last season will be remarkable for the Nats if he comes anywhere near them in DC.

The other big signing was the volatile and troubled Mr Jose Guillen who was so bad he was kicked off the team in the middle of the pennant race. He is allegedly learning about anger management which is not really what you usually want your slugger to be focused on during the offseason. Anger management should come from smacking balls in the batting cage.

They also free agent infielder Wil Cordero, another anger management victim whom frankly, I thought had retired about 10 years ago.

I think the Washington Nats occupying the NL East basement for many years to come is pretty much a foregone conclusion. However, if it makes Peter Angelos sweat, if it causes that little monkey angst and pulls fans out of his stadium, well good for the Nats. I'll be rooting for them despite themselves. The New New York Mets of the NL East. Good luck kids, you'll need it.


The Cameron's Out of the Bag

Does it seem like only yesterday that the fragile 32 year old centerfielder formerly known as Mike Cameron volunteered to move to right field to accomdate Carlos Beltran IF (snickersnicker) the Mets actually signed him? Ha. Cameron, no doubt, believed there wasn't a snowball's chance in Omar's Dominican Republic that the Mets would sign Carlos Beltran, as did most of the baseball world and thus, believed he had nothing to lose by making such a proposition. Not only did he have nothing to lose, but he might look a good team player in the process.

Well, that little moment of myth-making can be laid to rest. That's right. Now, after being caught in a lie, the bitch wants to be traded. Apparently, he wasn't really willing to move to RF after all. It was all a practical joke. A simple misunderstanding. Apparently, he'd only been clearing his throat. Say it ain't so after all, Mr Cameron!

Tell us your offer wasn't just a stream of self-serving consciousness that you never had any intention of fulfilling. Tell us you weren't just mimicking ole Bernie Williams when he made the same offer a week before you in the Bronx on the only NYC team that anyone thought actually HAD a chance to sign Beltran. Oh, ye silly underestimator of the powers of Omar.

It's ok though. The admission comes at just the right time. And now that you've unhurled your bitter truth for all the world to see like Mike Cameron bunting on the box seat ledges of a Mets postseason you won't be around to adorn, don't let the door hit your in the arse on your way out. Think we can't find another self-serving 32 year old to sit on the DL for us?

And by the way, thanks for being bait to help us fill out a few spots on the backup roster and cut our payroll deep enough to free up cash for the other Carlos.

Whilst the Marlins woo Delgado, if the Mets can trade Cameron in a timely fashion, they can free up $14 million to help pay Delgado with. It's might be a long shot, but now that Cameron's opened his mouth to complain, at least it's a reasonable possibility.

I don't think there's any question who the Mets would rather have in the lineup.

Better still, moving Cameron will free up a spot in the outfield for a promising rookie now that Victor Diaz is beginning to blossom.

Diaz has 3 hits, a homer and 4 RBIs in just 5 at bats for Aguilas Cibaeña in the Dominican League playoffs. That's the same homerun and RBI production of the .414 hitting Hamstring Jose for the Gigantes in those same playoffs. Granted, that's the Dominican Winter League folks, not the World Series, but still, the promise has to be played out somewhere in the offseason, doesn't it then?

So thanks again, Mike Cameron. You've saved us uncountable headaches and several million. You hear that Cliff Floyd? Are you certain you still want to play leftfield or would you like a trade of scene as well, perhaps somewhere that has a spare DH spot on the roster?


You can count Tony DeMarco as a loud voice of derision when it comes to how the Mets have spent their offseason so far. Oh dear, call the Sheriff, the Mets are spending too much and spending too foolishly! Oh my! The Mets want a Hall of Fame pitcher and a future Hall of Famer in centerfield and are willing to pay for it! Somebody call the cops!

Clearly, DeMarco has not been a Mets fan and does not understand the need for grasping at straws when it comes to flawed optimism. This offseason buys the Mets at least another two seasons of failure before we'll start to hate them again and the promise will be worth every penny.

At least the ominiscient Ken Rosenthal sees the wisdom in the Beltran signing, even if he misses the boat on Pedro (doesn't he know that without Pedro there is no Carlos?!) and guesses wrong on whether or not they'll need Delgado.

There's no accounting for the jealous minds rising to the surface. Is everyone afraid the baseball world will soon concentrate around the Evil Axis of the Bronx, Fenway and Shea?

And let's get another thing straight about the Mets' free agent spending: if you want to talk about foolish, talk about the Diamondbacks throwing money around like they were printing it themselves. How many serially-injured players can they toss a multi-year million dollar contract to before someone sane steps in and takes them away to the rubber rooms of fiscal responsibility?

And what about the Seattle Mariners? Does someone want to tell me the Mets made dumber moves than multi-year multi-millions for the likes of Adrian Beltre whose own team didn't think he could do it again, or overpaying by about $5 million a season for Richie Sexson and his all-or-nothing swing?

That's just for starters. Just imagine if any of these free agents could have stomached multi-years rotting away in Baltimore or in Detroit. Imagine how the foolish money would have flown by then. They might have been like Cincinnati tossing millions at a washout like Eric Milton not even the Yankees were dumb enough to pay the man for.

So as future reference to those whingers going on about the Mets and their foolish spending habits, save it. Save it for when they are the only team left standing and looking old and pathetic like the Yankees giving 100 year contract extensions to surly octagenerian pitchers who double as media baiters and clubhouse cancers. Save it for when you've wasted the last four years rooting for a team that does everything wrong and suddenly looks like it might be able to do something right again.

Just don't piss on our parade though, because the band is just getting warmed up.


Who's Next on the Met Free Agent Hit Parade?

Now that the Mets have Beltran in the Bag, the focus becomes on who they might sign next now that the free agent fever has hit them.

Well, for starters, to fill their hole at first base, they are trying to set up a meeting with Carlos Delgado. All along the rumour has been that it was either Beltran or Delgado as the consolation prize. We didn't see it coming that the Mets might sign both.

On first take, wow. Delgado's bat would really wreak havoc in concert with Beltran, and Piazza, Wright, Cameron and (if he stays) Cliff Floyd. He batted .269 with 32 homers and 99 runs batted in for Toronto last year, but also averaged 39.5 homers and 123.5 R.B.I in the previous six seasons. Beltran has already chimed in. "It would be seriously tremendous if we sign Carlos, too," Beltran was quoted as saying in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia on Monday. "I would love it if that could be achieved because we are good friends, but I know he has to make the best decision for him."

But although splashy, it isn't necessarily in the Mets best interests.

If they are serious about building a team with a good defence (that said laughingly, I suppose, considering they'll have the worst defensive catcher in baseball backing them), Delgado isn't the first choice that comes to mind. Signing old man Olerud or trading for Mientkiewicz, both former Gold Glovers, would probably be the wiser, shorter term move as they won't cost an even bigger future payroll mortgaging and they will provide solid defence.

On the other hand, with an aging Glavine and Pedro anchoring their starting rotation and the decision to keep Piazza around for a final year means, that even with Beltran, this is a team being built to win now, not five years down the road, so perhaps Delgado's offence might be worth the sacrifice of his dodgy defence under that philosophy.

He certainly has the backing of Met manager Willie Randolph. "For any team, this guy is a solid, solid offensive player and he's a lot better defensively than people give him credit for," Randolph said of Delgado, 32.


Whilst on the one hand, the Mets are preparing to introduce Carlos to New York, on the other, they have already introduced Kootchie Koo.

That's Dae Sung Koo, for whom the Mets OUTBID the Yankees and who spent the past four seasons -- the last three as a starter -- with Orix of the Japanese Pacific League. He went 6-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 18 games in 2004. Overall, he was 24-34 in Japan with 10 saves and a 3.88 ERA in 110 games.

So naturally you've got to ask yourself, what's the fuss about a 35 year old Korean pitcher with a mediocre record in Japan and what did the Yankees want with him? Is he a starter or a bullpen addition? And how did we get him after the Yankees had already signed him?.

There's a nice website called Baseball Guru that tries to figure out what Japanese League players stats would mean in terms of "real" MLB stats. Koo's cipher out thusly:

Dae-Sung Koo dob Aug 2, 1969 BL TL
pos P 2004 salary: $1.03 million
2001 59 7 9 0 146.1 120 20 88 146 87 78 4.82
2002 25 6 6 0 169.1 152 19 58 147 84 74 3.93
2003 22 3 11 0 131.2 163 33 63 121 128 120 8.17
2004 21 5 10 0 138.0 138 36 57 107 110 102 5.64

"He's 35, and while the strikeouts per innings pitched are fine, the home run numbers are awful. Combine that with at least a hit an inning in the last two years, and you've got quite high projected ERAs. I'd pass."

Well, nothing to get excited about at Shea, it appears. Unless you're a Korean Mets fan, I suppose.


If Koo isn't exciting enough for you, you can always turn to Victor Zambrano, the infamous pitcher whom the Mets traded phenom Scott Kazmir for.

Yesterday, they "signed" him to avoid arbitration. So what did we get for Kazmir besides a dodgy-armed 5th starting pitcher with a mediocre record?

Reportedly the hard-throwing righty wants management to know he is healthy and that he'll be capable of pitching when Spring Training starts next month.

""The ankle is good. I've been throwing off a mound and have even thrown a couple of BPs [batting practices] in Venezuela, no problems," he said. "My arm feels good, too. I'm confident that it is over. Hopefully it is. There were a lot of opinions about it [his elbow] but I went to Instructional League [in the fall], and once I started working I knew I could keep going. It made me feel good."

Well, let's hope so. A healthy and effective Zambrano will go a long way towards establishing the depth of the Mets rotation.

Better still, deeper ramifications of the Pedro signing were shown when Martinez was introduced to the media and said he was looking forward to working with Zambrano, who seems equally eager.

"He's a big guy for us," Zambrano said. "I've talked to Pedro in the past and gotten a lot of confidence from him and everything he has said to me. It will help us to have him close and see a lot of the little things he does that can help."

Oooooh. The excitement just seems to have no end.


And look, these deep pockets of the Mets suddenly have no bottom. Not only these signings were announced, but they also signed their top pick, Phil Humber.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Humber, a Carthage, Texas, native, went 13-4 for Rice in 2004, posting a 2.27 ERA in 20 games (15 starts). Most impressive, however, were his 154 strikeouts in 115 innings. He finished his college career with a 35-8 record.


Meanwhile, the other New York Newcomer, Randy Johnson, showed NYC his pitching hand yesterday. The Unit is a mercenary, whilst Pedro and Beltran just might be saviours.

Looks like the Mets are headed in the right direction.



Let's give a kick to the Yankees franchise whilst they're still down.

Rather than get into a bidding war with the suddenly imposing pockets of the Wilpon family, King George and his Yankee Machine declined to bid on Carlos Beltran thereby allowing himself to be outbid by his crosstown rivals for the first time in his 32 years as The Boss. Steinbrenner ultimately decided early Saturday evening that he could not meet Beltran's price. The Yankees were concerned about boosting their already hefty luxury-tax payments.

In any case, the most sought-after free-agent in baseball, outfielder Carlos Beltran has agreed to a 7-year, $119-million deal with Mets.

Shea What?! is about right, whoddathunkit?

In a sign either of his senility or his undying desire to rid the Cubs of Sammy Sosa, the usually coherent Phil Rogers of the Trib weighs in with the explanation that The Mets can still afford Sosa. Ha!

More to follow, more to add, more to celebrate and more to shake one's head over, pondering the other leaks that need to be plugged on this suddenly-imposing Mets vessel, but first, let the digestion of this news begin.

For the first time in years, it's good to be a Met fan again.


The Beltran Is Out of the Bag: No Deal, Astros Eliminated from Carlos Sweepstakes

Although with King George's greedy clutches waiting in the background it is no done deal, the Mets chances of signing Carlos Beltran just grew enormously as Beltran rejected the Astros final offer.

There are rumours that the Cubs and Yankees are still in the running with the Mets but to date, only the Mets and Astros had shown any certain intrest by offering a contract and with the Astros now out of the picture, the Mets are the favourites.

The Yankees, of course, with Steinbrenner loath to allow the Mets any crosstown splashy publicity which would take the spotlight off of him and his signings, continue to loom ahead and there is always the chance that they will jump into this chase before it is over. However, not having made any offer to Beltran and allowing the possibility of Houston to have signed him without bidding a cent on him, seems an indication that the rumours of the Yankees finally showing a modicum of fiscal restraint might possibly be true.

The Cubs are interested, no doubt, but like many teams, interest is not money and they have claimed all along they cannot afford Beltran so long as they still have team pariah Sammy Sosa. Ironically, the Mets had once been the Cubs most likely trading partner with Sosa and the failure of that deal might be the one thing restraining the Cubs from signing Beltran thereby allowing the Mets to do so.

The Trib's Phil Rogers reports there is a new round of Sammy Sosa-to-Baltimore rumors going around. The names heard with these include pitcher Sidney Ponson, closer Jorge Julio, outfielder Jay Gibbons and second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. … Arizona could be a Sosa possibility with if the Shawn Green deal breaks down again. The Diamondbacks say they want to win, but they have to sell tickets with Johnson no longer around.

However, it doesn't make much sense that the O's would trade for Sosa and take themselves out of the Carlos Delgado chase. If the Mets sign Beltran, they won't sign Delgado which leaves the O's and the Texas Rangers in the bidding. If the Mets didn't sign Beltran and chased Delgado instead then the O's might be interested in Sosa as a really bad consolation prize, but probably not before then.

And the Diamondbacks signing Sosa is probably just wishful thinking on the part of a Chicago writer. The Diamondbacks don't need Sosa to sell tickets. They need to win, and getting the one-sided trade for Shawn Green is a step in that direction. They won't sign Sosa AND Shawn Green, so that's a no-go as well.

Of course, a wildcard, like the Florida Marlins, could jump in and sign Delgado, leaving the O's willing to deal for Sosa and freeing up the Cubs to chase Beltran but that would hinge upon the Mets not be able to reach an agreement with Beltran quickly now that their primary competition has been eliminated.

Carlos had some nice things to say about Omar the other day as well which make you think he's pretty much in the bag for the Mets:

"I've known Omar (Minaya) for a long time, ever since he was with Texas," Beltran said of the Mets' GM whom he met with last Monday when a contingent of Mets' executives arrived here to woo the slugger. "He's a great person. Good people."

So the Mets can hold their breath now and hope that Omar is agressive enough to sign Beltran before King George and the Yankees even start thinking about getting involved.

By the way, the Plea to Omar Minaya to sign Carlos Beltran now has 504 signatures.

Demonstrating their faith in the probability of Hamstring Jose falling prey to injury yet again this season, the Mets signed Miguel Cairo as a backup shortstop for the season.

Not only did Cairo hit .292 with six homers, 42 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for the Yankees last season, in the course of his career he's played every position but catcher and centerfield and will be a very valuable backup. A smart signing which will come in handy in the midseason when Hamstring Jose is on the DL or someone else goes down.


Mets Unload Wrong Catcher

Well, they're getting closer in that at least they're unloading catchers now. Unfortunately for the Mets, they unloaded backup catcher Vance Wilson, a sort of Del Gilbert of the early 21st century, and chose to keep the selfish, overpaid and underachieving catcher, Mike Piazza in his stead.

Wilson was the Mets' representative to the players union and was an active presence in the clubhouse, taking on a leadership role despite his limited playing time.

"Vance Wilson is a professional backup catcher," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said. "He is one of the best in the business at his role in addition to being a quality individual in the clubhouse."

Ironically, the catcher they chose to keep, Mike Piazza, also had limited playing time and has NO presence to speak of in the clubhouse, other than as facial hair stylist extraordinaire, and leader of the Worst Defensive Catchers in the World Association. Whereas Piazza regularly throws out about a mere 20% of the people attempting to steal bases, Wilson regularly threw out 35-40%. You can say that potentially anyway, Piazza MIGHT have better offensive numbers, but Piazza .266-20-54 really isn't that big a climb over Wilson's .274-4-21 in half as much time. When you factor in that Wilson could actually play his position without embarassing himself, well, you might think the Mets unloaded the wrong catcher.

What this means, bitterly perhaps, is that despite my daily prayers, Mike Piazza will stay with the Mets this season, rotting another clubhouse with his vaporous presence and horrific catching. Hopefully in return, considering this is the final season of his contract, he will at least return to the offensive Piazza of auld, hit alot of empty-base homeruns and hit above .300 so long as it doesn't mean anything, in compliment to Carlos Beltran or Carlos Delgado. On the other hand, perhaps he will suffer another season-long injury and spare the Mets the humiliation of having the league's worst defensive catcher representing them behind the plate. If you've any doubt, ask yourself this: Do you think Pedro wants to pitch to Mike Piazza?. Not a chance. You think Glavine likes knowing every time he allows a single or gives up a walk, that baserunner gets an automatic pass to second base? Not a chance.

But all is not lost in this transaction. In return, the Mets receive a young, switch-hitting shortstop in Anderson Henderson. Then again, the Mets already have a young, superstah-talented shortstop so it's rather confusing about where Señor Henderson will find himself playing. Nevetheless, Henderson was named by Baseball America as Detroit's Best Defensive Infielder and Best Infield Arm in their system. Oddly however, he isn't ranked in their top 10 of best prospects.

Well, Mr Met Organisation, we get the message, another painful season of Piazza's triple hop throws to second base. Thankfully, it will be his last.

Whilst they were ridding themselves of Vance Wilson, they were adding yet another catcher in the form of Ramon Castro. Unfortunately, Castro is probably best known for being accused of rape and later copping to a misdemeanor indecent assault charge and will be on probation for a year.

In August of 2003, a 28-year-old woman accused Castro of assaulting her in the player's hotel room following Wednesday night's game in Pittsburgh. According to court records, the woman told police Castro threw her on a hotel bed, pulled off her clothes and held her down. The woman tried to push Castro away and told him to stop, but he continued to sexually assault her, the documents said. The woman went to a hospital early Thursday morning, and staff members there called police. The woman was treated and released for what police described as minor physical injuries.

Not sure what the message is here. Dump clubhouse leader in favour of clubhouse whiner, pick up a defensive shortstop and an accused rapist with a .212 lifetime batting average in the bargain. Hmmmm.


Knowing that nary a word can be spoken about the Mets these days without the obligatory Carlos Beltran update, you can rest assured that the Mets, at the moment anyway, are the frontrunners in the Beltran Sweepstakes. In fact, tomorrow is a D-Day of sorts in that it is the final day Beltran has to accept the Astros offer or move on elsewhere.

The Astros say they've made their final offer. The rumour is that the Astros' current offer on the table is at seven years and $105 million, and the Mets were at seven years and $112 million.

"There's no more offers coming from the Houston Astros," Fat Cat Owner McLane said. "The offer we have out there, that's the only one we're going to give. There are no more. We've made it clear that we'll make no more offers. We've had the offer out there. We're not going to change the offer. If that fits them, terrific. If not, then we have to move on."

Yes, and move on Carlos Beltran, move on to Shea.

As for the nasty rumour that the Tigers will jump in at the last minute a la Texas and A-Rod, and offer an absurd sum, Tigers GM says of Beltran, "He's a player we like a great deal, as we've said all along, but where we are and what his situation is financially just doesn't mesh."

The only other place is might mesh will be in the Bronx and although they continue to deny interest, the Yankees are loath to let the Mets get away with a public relations coup like signing Beltran. So don't count your Beltrans before they're hatched.


At least one free agent has spoken up to confirm Omar's contention that he is building an attractive base for latino players. The "other" Carlos, Delgado, says Mets GM Omar Minaya's interest in Latin American players makes New York an attractive option.


Chasing Carlos One and Two

The stakes are rising quickly. With only four days left for the Astros to resign their free agent Carlos Beltran, the Mets officially met with Beltran in his native Puerto Rico for a reported four hour session. It was also rumoured that they offered $100 million as an opening bid.

Lest one think this expedition stops at ONE Carlos, it should be noted that Met special assistant Tony Bernazard dropped this particular bombshell that the other Carlos; the slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado, is also being chased on this trip.

"Our interest is centered on Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado," Bernazard told the media. "We are still trying to determine if we should sign one or both."

One or both? Certainly too delicious to contemplate, netting a pair of Carlos' in one season.

In the meantime, speculation continues to run rampant that the Yankees can't afford Beltran any more with the recent acquisition of The Unit and won't be a player in the Beltran Sweepstakes.

Given a choice by King George between The Unit and Bernie Williams versus Javier Vasquez and Carlos Beltran, it is reported that the Yankee executives voted for Johnson/Williams. This was a budget strategy employed by King George between the 2000-2001 seasons, when he authorized acquiring either Mike Mussina or Manny Ramirez, but not both.

However, before exploding with glee at the possible bow-out of the Yankees, it should be noted that the same article ominously reported Detroit could still jump in with the boldest offer to make a run similar to how Texas landed Alex Rodriguez, another Scott Boras client. Somehow, the circumstances seem different this time around - it's doubtful Omar would let himself be outbid by the stinkin' Tigers of Detroit unless the Tigers offer a ridiculous sum similar to the one the Rangers gave A-Rod.


As if this were not enough speculative fuel for the fire, it was also reported that the Mets are were chasing Byong Hyun-Kim as a righty reliever in a trade with Boston. It should also be noted that this same report indicates this was part of an massive earlier-nixed deal that would have involved Manny Ramirez. Kim’s 2004 season was nearly a total loss to injury. He made just seven appearances (three starts) at the major league level, spending most of the year at Pawtucket, where he was 2-6 with a 5.39 ERA in 22 games (19 starts). An indication of how useless Kim would be is that he is also being chased by (gasp!) the Colorado Rockies.


Otherwise, the bullpen's lack of arms is alarming and there doesn't seem to be much promise yet on the horizan. On the other hand, Omar has his hands full with the Carlos deals and Don't Look Now, but here comes recent Met pick-up, righty reliever Manny Aybar, at least in the Dominican Winter League. Last night, he pitched 5 2/3 solid innings of one-hit winter ball along with 7 strikeouts as his team, the Tigres del Licey, used a total of 5 pitchers to shut out the Giants of Cibao, 4-0.

Hoy Digital described his performance as immense in defeating the Giants of Cibao starter, Damian Moss. Teammate Eric Byrnes had two hits in the winning effort.


Catcher Mike Piazza has been busy preparing for the coming season by attending Miami Heat games against the Seattle SuperSonics.


2005 And Still No Beltran

Well, the calendar turned, one day closer to the Astros' January 8th make or break day with Beltran and the Mets still have not announced the signing of Carlos Beltran.

However, they have a plan.

"Continuing his home visits tour, general manager Omar Minaya will head a Mets contingent that will visit Beltran in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, the latest example of the aggressive face-to-face recruiting style Minaya employed to steal Pedro Martinez from the Red Sox last month." Hmmm. Wonder how the plane was able to take off with all those sacks of cash on board.

"Minaya plans to sell the idea of Beltran's becoming the club's biggest marquee attraction. According to a person familiar with the situation, Minaya also will cite the many marketing opportunities available as the city's newest Hispanic star."

Well, it certainly won't be the hard sell on Mets historical tradition, will it?

Even Bobby Valentine got into the act when he did his WFAN show:

"Valentine openly rooted for the Mets to beat out the super-wealthy Yankees for Beltran, once referring to the Mets as "we."

"I don't think Beltran's right for the Yankees," Valentine said to loud cheers. "I think he should go to the other New York team!"


Hard to miss JJ Cooper's take on Top Ten Mets Prospects.

Not surprisingtly, topping the list were outfielder Lastings Milledge, whose great baseball name will no doubt one day inspire many great tabloid headlines, and pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, whose name will be difficult to decipher: YOOZ-MY-OOOO Mania!

Cooper's neat summary went thusly:

"Before the season (2004) began, owner Fred Wilpon proclaimed he wouldn’t trade away the team’s future. Four months later, the Mets did exactly that. They gutted their minor league depth for no short-term benefit. They also overpaid Benson (three years, $22.5 million) on the free-agent market rather than face the stigma of dealing away prospects for a rental."

The Metropolitans website fills in the blanks of the chat wrap.


Lastly, goodbye to Rod Kanehl, who hit the first grand slam in the history of the New York Mets, died.

"Kanehl played every position except pitcher and catcher on the '62 Mets, and he was Stengel's favorite player on that crew. Stengel insisted on keeping Kanehl despite the objections of the Mets' general manager, George Weiss, who was presumably familiar with Kanehl from his years building the Yankees' dynasty.

As told by Leonard Shecter in "Once Upon the Polo Grounds," Stengel had related the following debate concerning Kanehl: "Weiss says, 'I ain't seen him do anything in the field.' So I said, 'You're full of baloney, he can run the bases.'"

from the NYT Obit.