(Long Island, NY) The Major League Baseball non-waiver trading deadline is approaching. Come Monday July 31st, there may be a lot of player movement. Who will be the sellers and who will be the buyers? The Mets are obviously buyers. But some of the teams on the fence have to decide what direction they are going. That’s where it gets interesting.
The Mets can play out the string with their current roster and probably still win the division going away. But once October rolls around and the playoff teams are decided, how confident are you having two older starters and a bunch of hopefuls be the front line to a possible World Series championship? Pedro Martinez has been injured often and must be counted on with caution. Tom Glavine has finally started to show his age after a strong start, and a 40 year old number two starter is another flag of uncertainty.
Game three? Take your pick from veteran Steve Traschel, who is as pedestrian a veteran starter there is, but hardly a lock. Then there is Orlando Hernandez. While ‘El Duque’ has been formidable in Octobers past, he is a little long in the tooth. Then the youngsters such as John Maine and Mike Pelfrey fill out the rotation. While they have faired well in short stints, post season pressure and double-digit division leads are two totally different animals.
Once a team makes the playoffs, the top three starters are named and the number four and five become long men. Assuming Pedro and Glavine are healthy, is Mets General Manager Omar Minaya confident with any of the options for a number three starter?
The Mets may have gone into the season with certain expectations, but at the current time they have exceeded them. In April, a Wild Card berth would have seemed reasonable. But now they are way ahead in the division and are looked at as the strongest team in the league. When there is a good chance to play for a championship, especially with two older top starters, do you go for broke or play it conservative?
The aggressive way that Minaya has put this team together leads one to believe that he will take the necessary steps to improve. He has to see a big drop off after Glavine, and there are some arms out there that he can try to acquire.
Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins would be ideal, but is he on the market? Livan Hernandez may help, but he is not compelling. There is one starter that would be a big jolt and may be available. Barry Zito of the Oakland A’s is a 28 year old lefthander who is a former Cy Young award winner. The problem is he will be a free agent this winter and his agent is Scott Boras. Sure to test the waters, is he worth dealing for when he may only be a two month rental?
Depending on what he will cost, yes. The rumors have been flying, and the latest one is that it won’t take young outfielder Lastings Milledge and a pitcher such as Aaron Heilman, but possibly one or the other and a few lower tier prospects. If that can be done, Minaya has to think hard to make the move. Zito added to the Mets will make them the favorite to win the pennant and give them a very good shot at whoever wins the much stronger American League.
How often do teams have a real shot at winning it all? You hate to mortgage the future, but either Milledge or Heilman will not conjure up arguments of another Kazmir trade. While Milledge showed flashes during his cup of coffee this season, outfielders can be had through free agency or trades. Heilman is a talented pitcher and a former first round draft choice, but the Mets seem content leaving him as a middle reliever. If he did go to the A’s, he surely would be given his wish to be a starter once again.
To obtain a talent such as Zito for an outfielder who is currently in Triple-A or a seventh inning arm should be a no-brainer. If you were facing the Mets in a playoff series, would you rather see Zito or Traschel/El Duque in game three after being down two-zip?