What's Up Next?
The merits of another pitcher vs. a starting catcher are debatable, but I'm going to assume there is a minority out there that actually favors a catcher rather than another pitcher. I'm all for the Mets going with the cheaper option at catcher and hedge their bets with starting pitching. The Mets are deep in starting pitching and that is the best adjective for their rotation. That is not a bad thing necessarily either since I think this team can hang with everyone, but why not throw down a trump card? When playoff time comes and if the Mets are in it, Seo, Benson, Glavine, and Trachsel are who will potentially be tossed out there if everything remains as it is today. Who do you explicitly trust beyond Pedro? Glavine has been there and could rise to the occasion, though his last trip to the playoffs was a forgettable one. Benson has yet to prove he can go an entire season without getting dead arm at the end of it. Trachsel should be in the bullpen come playoff time at this point in his career. Seo could develop into a nice number three and could emerge as the Mets second best and consistent starter. Is the rotation bad? Obviously not. However, I think they need to be deeper. You are not sure what will happen with Pedro's shoulder and if he goes through a stretch throwing 86 mph again, especially at playoff time, what do the Mets do? Can they compete?
Probably not. Furthermore, when teams get to the playoffs, they sometimes ride their ace with less than regular rest and try and fit them in as many times as possible. That is not a luxury the Mets have with Pedro and that is the reason they need to rethink their current direction. Can the Mets afford another starter and a nice new free agent catcher in Molina or Hernandez? Probably, but the Mets need to maintain payroll flexibility for the future. Bad contracts, injuries, having to eat salaries, young players coming into arbitration years, etc. Yes, they will have more money from the network, but that does not mean they couldn't be knee deep in bad contracts in two years precluding them from fielding the team they should be able too. Ideally for me, the Mets are at about $115 to $120 million for 2006. That is an $11 bump from last years $109 million dollar payroll and with the new network launching, I do not think that is out of the question. Afterall, they were willing to go that high when they tried to snag Delgado last year. They might be able to spend $130 million, but having the money doesn't necessarily mean you need to spend it. The Mets still may be interested in Javier Vazquez if they can shed Benson's salary and that is great. If they can do that, all the more power. But should they even stop there? Should they still not look into AJ Burnett and get together the best 1-2-3 punch in the league?
There are benefits to either Hernandez or Molina, but they certainly do not outweigh the benefits of deeper rotation. The Mets could potentially have three number ones since they can obviously buy AJ and they can most likely work a deal out for Vazquez. Payroll management is key to long term success and works hand in hand with production from your farm system. As weak as it is, there is still promising young guys with high ceilings. I would love Omar to pull off a shrewd move as it relates to the catching position and hedge their bets with the starting rotation. Why not Javier and AJ? If Pedro went down or experienced the same arm tiredness that contributed to him not being able to top 90 mph last year, the Mets would still have a World Series caliber team. Though it probably will never happen, there is merit to the idea of focusing on those two starting pitchers and shooting for the stars, which Omar is getting me accustomed to. I think this offense has the juice to produce some runs and the focus should be remaining on the rotation and the bullpen. One more catcher with good defense to share some time with Castro and more arms will give this team exactly what it needs and at a reasonable payroll.
Wagner's four-year, $43-million contract has incentives including a $25,000 bonus for making the All-Star team, $100,000 for Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, $50,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 for NLCS MVP. He also will receive $4 million up front for the purchase of a house, according to the AP ... The Mets are accepting deposits for season tickets and ticket plans for 2006 at Mets.com or by calling 718-565-4348. Single-game tickets go on sale in late February.
"There's nothing -- no one -- we have in mind that we think will require us to move either [Heilman or Milledge]," another person said. "We think we can make the moves we want without hurting ourselves at other positions."
That's what is being said for now anyway.