Buzz: Red Sox still Favorites for Santana

In today’s New York Post, Joel Sherman writes that the Red Sox remain the ‘strong favorite’ to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins.

According to Sherman, a) the Yankees are still unwilling to trade Phil Hughes and are reluctant to give Santana a six-year contract extension, while b) the Mets lag because Minnesota still wants to get back one or two players who can instantly contribute at the major-league level.

Therefore, Sherman concludes…

“For the Mets to land Santana, they would probably need these stars to align: a) The Twins feel they must deal their ace before spring training and, thus, take the best package available some time in the next six weeks; b) The Mets assemble a package that severely depletes their system, the Twins decide to accept volume as the key to the deal and neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees alter their offers.”

…again, as i have been saying, it’s all about hughes…if the Yankees will trade him, they’ll be able to acquire santana…now, whether they’ll pay him remains to be seen…on the other hand, if the Red Sox stay pat in their offer, the Mets are going to need to over do it, such as Carlos Gomez, maybe Fernando Martinez, and a variety of pitchers, which could include Aaron Heilman…this is why the Mets keep telling people they are ‘monitoring the situation,’ because there is nothing they can really do right now, short of including Jose Reyes, which is not an option…otherwise, Omar Minaya has no choice but to wait and see how the Yankees intend to behave…once that is decided, or the Twins get antsy, whichever happens first, it’s going to come down to whether the Twins want less players, who are more immediate (from Boston), or a lot of players (from the Mets) with high upsides who need more time to develop

Read: Omar Minaya is Not Hot

In a column for the Bergen Record, Bob Klapisch breaks down who is Hot and who is Not in baseball as we head in to 2008.

Regarding the Mets, Klapisch lists Omar Minaya under the Not category, while writing…

“Unless the Mets can somehow pry Johan Santana away from the Twins, they’ll go into ’08 without significantly improving the team that blew a seven-game lead with 17 to go. Minaya loves the art of the deal, but he’s yet to work any magic this winter.”

…if you recall, i wrote the following in this post from early October, which critiqued minaya’s performance during the previous year

…i am a fan of Omar Minaya, mostly because he had brought a new sense of local and national credibility to this team, and a level of buzz and excitement that i had not seen as a fan since the 80s…that being said, his poor decisions over the last year ultimately helped to contribute to the team’s biggest embarrassment since its first season in the league, and they cannot be ignored…

…i sense organization’s owners feel the same way…minaya’s contract expires at the end of 2009, as does Willie Randolph’s…so, the duo has two full seasons to further advance what they started in 2005…last season was a step backward, following one giant step forward, making next season quite significant in the future direction of this team, let alone their respective careers…

…in other words, as klapisch writes, and as people close to minaya have told me, for his sake, Ryan Church, Brian Schneider and the whole team better have a good year next season…

Buzz: Mets Interested in Jon Lieber

According to the Daily News, the Mets have expressed interest in free-agent LHP Jon Lieber.

Lieber’s agent, as quoted by the Daily News…

“We’ve been in contact with the Mets, but as we sit here today it’d be wrong to suggest something is imminent.”

as the report suggests, multiple reports during the last week or so have linked the Mets to lieber, Bartolo Colon, Freddie Garcia and Kyle Lohse

…my sense is that colon leads the list…in fact, from what i can gather, the team has been monitoring him quite closely as he pitches in the Dominican Winter League…although, during the Winter Meetings, there was a lot of buzz connecting the Mets and garcia, who will not be major-league ready until mid-summer…

…if a deal for Joe Blanton or Johan Santana cannot be worked out, meaning Mike Pelfrey, Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey are all in camp, i have no problem with bringing on a veteran to round out the competition…however, i’m totally against locking in a pitcher like lohse, who may be seeking as much as a four-year deal – whereas colon, garcia and lieber will likely sign for far less of a commitment…

…regarding lieber specifically, like i suggested a few weeks ago with free-agent Josh Towers, i believe he’d do well in Shea Stadium, since he induces a ton of weak pop-ups

In seven appearances at Citizen’s Bank Park for the Phillies last season, the 37–year-old Lieber had a 5.26 ERA, compared to a 4.19 ERA while pitching seven times on the road.

He missed the final 13 weeks of last season after having a ruptured tendon surgically repaired in his left foot.

According to previous reports, the Royals, Astros and Reds have all expressed interest at various times during this off-season.

Buzz: Mets are in the Mix for Santana

According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com today, citing ‘one source with knowledge of the discussion,’ it may be ‘several weeks’ before the Twins make a trade involving Johan Santana.

Stark continues to write…

“The most surprising aspect of those talks to some baseball people is that the Mets remain in the mix. It may be because the Twins would like to move Santana to the National League if possible.

“But while the Mets have made a four-for-one offer built around center fielder Carlos Gomez, indications are that the teams remain far apart.

“The Twins originally asked for Jose Reyes. But one baseball man with knowledge of those talks says that possibility was dismissed ‘a long time ago.’”

hmmm, well, if they’re surprised, i guess it’s because they have not been reading this site every day for the last monthsuch as this post, made as recently as yesterday

Stark writes that the Twins essentially need the Mets to ‘rip up their farm system,’ if the two sides are to agree on a deal.

Also, according to Stark, the Yankees once offered Phil Hughes, but such a deal is now off the table, while the Red Sox haven’t budged from their offer of Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie.

Ultimately, Stark notes that the Twins could look to keep Santana through opening day.

…the sense i get, though, from people connected to santana, is that he wants a contract extension now…which is probably a wise move for a guy who has yet to suffer a major injury…and so, i suspect he’ll force the issue, whether the Twins like it or not

Blog: Newsday on MetsBlog and SNY Deal

In a post to his outstanding blog for Newsday, media-watchdog Neil Best wrote about the partnership between this site, MetsBlog.com, and SNY, the regional sports television network.

For more on MetsBlog’s relationship with SNY, click here.

Best concludes by writing…

“It’s another variation on a recent theme of ‘mainstream’ outlets bringing popular independent blogs and message boards into the fold.”

…as i have said before, it’s a natural fit in the sense that we are all in the business of creating dialogue, expressing opinion and covering sports in a fun, professional and informative way…i alluded to this while speaking at BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas last month, alongside Will Leitch from Deadspin, Rob Neyer from ESPN, and Jamie Mottram from Yahoo! Sports, among others…to me, unlike politics and pop culture, it makes far more sense for sports bloggers, like myself, and mottram, and Henry Abbott of True Hoops, etc, to align with these larger outlets in an effort to expand our reach and product, while never adjusting our voice and fan point-of-view

…as such, being that SNY is partly owned by the Mets, i know people are concerned that i will be more likely to side with the team, or not be overtly critical…nevertheless, in a recent survey of more than 7,000 readers of this site, less than 10 percent of participants said that i appear to be afraid of what the team will think of me…additionally, roughly 70 percent believe i am fair in my criticism, while 75 percent believe i am well-informed and do not rush to judgment

…and that’s the thing, i have always been slow-to-judge, passive and optimistic – and that goes for all of my opinions in life, not just those pertaining to the Mets…as i have said a million times before, i am a fairly pragmatic person by nature, and i try to be understanding and optimistic in life, especially with a subject like sports, which is supposed to be ‘fun,’ and so i spend far more time looking forward than looking back – especially with regards to things i have no control over, like who Omar Minaya traded away two years ago, or why Willie Randolph didn’t bunt on a random cloudy day in June…since i never assume to have every bit of information, i find it very unfair to speak in absolutes…

…my critics have a fair point, in that if i spend too much time socializing with team officials and players, subconsciously i may not be honest in my criticism because i will not want to criticize a friend…this is a great point, and i promise to be mindful of this going forward…but, the fact is, i don’t really want to be that close to those people, at least not on a regular basis…as i have said before, i like being a baseball fan…i don’t want to care about these people personally, because i don’t want to lose the ability to get emotional while watching a game…i like the passion and energy, and the brainstorming and constructive criticism i do from the stands, or from my sofa, or in a bar or on this site arguing and thinking with fellow fans – to me, that’s what being a baseball fan is all about…and, again, i don’t want to stop that…however, i appreciate the advice, and always welcome your feedback and guidance…

Read: Top-Prospect Kevin Mulvey

In the Star-Ledger, Don Burke writes an in-depth profile of Mets RHP Kevin Mulvey, who has been mentioned in trade rumors on several occasions during this off-season.

Willie Randolph, on Mulvey, as quoted by Burke…

“I like his poise.  I don’t think he was intimidated at all. Spring training is such a small window, but I like the fact that he showed a real poise and presence. And his stuff was crisp and decent…He has all the tools. I’m excited about him and from what I hear in the organization, a lot of our guys are saying good things about him too.”

Mulvey is ranked as the team’s second-best pitching prospect, behind Deolis Guerra, and ahead of Phil Humber, by Baseball America, who writes…

“Mulvey throws four pitches for strikes and keeps everything down.  His fastball, which sits at 87-91 mph and touches 94, features good sink and run…His competitiveness makes his whole greater than the sum of his parts…He’ll open 2008 in Triple-A, but Mulvey could get a look in the rotation by midseason. He projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter.”

as i mentioned during the Winter Meetings, the Twins and A’s seemed to really like mulvey, which, to me, says a lot, since those two organizations are known for having such strong scouting departments

In 26 starts for Double-A Binghamton last season, Mulvey was 11–10 with a 3.32 ERA, while striking out 110 batters and walking 43 through 152 innings.

Video: John Maine Song

The following is a parody of Lisa Loeb’s Stay, about John Maine, by Kuff and the Buttheads…

…excellent, job…that first line alone keeps making me laugh – let alone the rest of the song, which is hilarious