Monday, January 24, 2005

Overwhelming Questions

Been a while since I posted over here -- largely due to my schedule, the lack of Mets news, and lack of inspiration. Not to mention, there are so many uncertain things about this team, it's hard to predict or comment on them...that is, unless you're commenting on the questions themselves!

Here are my top ten questions about the Mets that need to be answered between now and opening day:

1. Who's On First?

Hopefully this will be decided in the next day or two. If it's not Carlos Delgado (and I hope it is), it will probably be Travis Lee. At this point, the Mets are simply trying to keep Delgado away from the Marlins as much as they are trying to get him for themselves.

2. Will Cliff Floyd be traded?

My gut feeling is "no", simply because the Cubs seem to be the only willing trading partner should Omar Minaya re-open the Sammy Sosa talks. However, the siging of Carlos Beltran changes things significantly; the Mets are now trying to shed salary this year to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Any trade for Sosa would likely involve taking on salary this year (Sosa's $18 million+) to save next year (Floyd's $6.5 million over two years). They can't do this and sign Delgado; there's just not enough wiggle room.

If Deldago turns them down however then, as Bob Klapisch writes today, "Plan B is Sammy Sosa." And that would likely mean Floyd is gone.

Even without Delgado, however, I still have a hard time seeing how Omar could work such a deal. Of course, this also makes one wonder...

3. Will Sammy Sosa be coming here?

Again, unless the financial obstacles can be overcome, I really don't see it happening, regardless of whether Pedro "recruits" him or not. It really depends on how desperate Chicago is to unload him and whether or not they're willing to take on all the difference in salary.

Remember that Omar is under no pressure here, even without Delgado or Sosa, he has had a successful offseason and the Mets will be a better team. All the pressure is squarely on the Cubs shoulders and Sosa won't be coming here unless they flinch.

4. Will Mike Cameron be traded?

Klapisch also pretty much put the nail in the Cameron-Byrnes deal last week and one has to think that Cameron's trade value is fairly limited due to his injury and salary. Should the Mets fail to sign Deladgo however, this little scenario could rear it's ugly head again, especially since Omar will almost definitely include Magglio Ordonez in 'Plan B'. In addition, no matter what Billy Beane says publicly, I find it hard to believe he's totally given up on getting Cameron.

You know what happens once he puts his mind to something -- someone else gets screwed.

5. Will Joe McEwing be traded?

This is something that's been bandied about in the media that just makes too much sense not to happen. The addition of Miguel Cairo makes him expendable and despite the fact that Super Joe has posted OPS of .538, .600. and .609 the last three years, he still would have value to a team due to his 'versatility'.

There's no guarantee here but given the way Omar's been purging the team of the 'old guard', I wouldn't be surprised. Tony LaRussa, Super Joe's #1 fan, may be getting a call between now and opening day.

6. Will Felix Heredia be released?

Sadly I think the answer to this question is also 'no', simply because Heredia will be making $3 million this year (although $1 million of that has already been paid to the Yankees). Still this is a move that I wouldn't put past Omar should Heredia stink it up in spring training and should one of the kids, say Blake McGinley, step it up.

Come March, pray for TRF suckiness to ensue.

7. Will Victor Diaz make the team?

This is actually the question I'm the most interested in. While Omar has publicly stated that he's been very impressed with Diaz, he's also said that he needs to work on his plate discipline in AAA and is likely to start the season there.

However, right now the Mets aren't expecting Cameron to be able to play until late April/early May. If everything stays as it is right now regarding the outfield, then V-for-Victor could get a one month trial in The Show until Cameron returns.

Of course, this is also dependent on the composition of the bench and who gets traded/released by spring training. Sadly my best guess right now, assuming a gang of six, is the following:

Phillips, (R), c, 1B
McEwing (R), whatever
Valent (L), OF, 1B
Cairo (R), 2B, SS, 3B
Calloway, (L), OF
Galarraga (R), 1B

Not only is there no room for Diaz, there's no room for Ramon Castro (sad), Danny Garcia (bad) or Jeff Keppinger (good) either. I really think Galarraga is going to make the club unless he's physically unable to play. That means the only way a spot will open up is if Super Joe is traded (a possibility) or if Calloway sucks it up in spring training (a likely possibility).

If Super Joe goes, this likely opens a spot for Garcia or Keppinger. If Calloway goes, Diaz may get his shot.

In his last mailbag, Kevin Czerwinski also mentioned that the Mets were trying to trade Jason Phillips but have been unsuccessful so far. Obviously, if Phillips goes, it would open up a spot for Castro.

8. How do you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?

Big, huge, enormous, behemoth of a question. Many questions really. Right now, Braden Looper, Mike DeJean, and *shudder* Heredia are the only ones guaranteed spots. Hopefully Orber Moreno will be ready, Tyler Yates will be under control, and Bartolome Fortunato, Heath Bell, and Dae Sung Koo will fight it out for the last two spots.

But all of them have question marks and we really won't know anything until they start pitching to batters. Don't rule out on Omar trade for relief later on, especially with Chad Bradford still being dangled for Cameron.

9. How will Yusmeiro Petit and Philip Humber do in spring training?

While this isn't likely to affect the Mets on opening day, it could affect them at the trading a good way.

Easy now. Breathe. They aren't going anywhere but if they perform well and advance quickly this year, we could see them in September. This could give Pedro some extra rest and if they pitch well, convince the Mets that Trachsel or Glavine is expendable for the following year.

Plus if anyone gets injured this year, the Mets might give them a midseason look (although that role is more likely to go to the forgotten man, Aaron Heilman). Speaking of which...

10. What happens to Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo?

Sadly I think they're both trade bait. I'd really like Heilman to get another shot, as he had a great strikeout rate in both the majors and minors last year. But, barring injury, I think he goes to AAA and is traded within a year. Seo seems to have worn out his welcome entirely and has certainly burned all his bridges with Rick Peterson. He's toast, one way or another.

This will be a better team next year. But the answers to these questions could be the difference between .500 and the playoffs. Just 69 days to opening day and, god help me, I can't wait!


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