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

Buzz: Mets a Viable Option for Santana

Last week, at his blog for the Star-Tribune, Twins reporter La Velle E. Neal III wrote that unless David Wright and Jose Reyes are in the deal, the Mets had ‘no shot’ at acquiring Johan Santana from the Twins.

of course, as you know, i’ve been saying for over a month that the Twins understand and have accepted that reyes is off the table, and, in many cases, actually prefer some of the Mets prospects to what is being offered by the Red Sox…

Today, at his blog for the Star-Tribune, Neal writes that the Mets remain a ‘viable destination’ for Santana, while adding, ‘The Twins like enough of their players that a deal could be worked out without shortstop Jose Reyes being part of the package.’

thanks, la velle…now, if you could just send Mike Francesa a memo, we’ll be all set

…considering what i have been saying for weeks, plus neal’s post, among other developments, i put my confidence level at five, with regards to the Mets chances of acquiring santana – which, at this point, hinges much more on what the Yankees do with Phil Hughes than it does with anything else

Read: Feliciano, Stats, and his Daughter

On June 28 of this past season, Pedro Feliciano had a 2.92 ERA while opponents had been hitting just .154 against him.

…if you recall, he was being considered as the team’s MVP, with Billy Wagner referring to him as their best relief pitcher

The next day, according to an excellent report by Peter Botte in the Daily News, Feliciano’s daughter, Josnelly, was born.  However, in August, Josnelly was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, explains Botte.  She underwent open-heart surgery in late October, and is now happy and healthy with the Feliciano’s in Puerto Rico.

Feliciano, as quoted by Botte…

“I know that everyone was very upset about what happened at the end of the season with (the Mets).  But this was my little daughter, and when something happens like this, it changes how you think about everything.”

During July, August and September, Feliciano had a 4.44 ERA.  Opponents hit .265 against him during his final 16 appearances.

this is why i do not get bogged down in statistical analysis…stats are great, but they do not tell the entire story…i see this a lot during the regular season…i mean, i am certain even i pulled up feliciano’s splits, looked at the numbers and tried to figure out what was wrong with him in the second half…i recall writing about arm slot, not inducing enough ground balls, etc…meanwhile, his newborn daughter had congenital heart disease…last i checked, there is no stat that logs heartbreak or distraction, which is probably why i could not understand his inability to find the strike zone when only looking at the box score…

…thanks to Peter Wade, our resident eyes and ears, for the link

Read: MLB.com Q&A with Joe Smith

At MLB.com, Marty Noble conducts a light-hearted Holiday Q&A with Mets RHP Joe Smith, who, when asked what we wants for Christmas, says, “A call from Carrie Underwood.”

…by the way, in case you’re wondering, and i suspect you are, pitchers and catchers is seven weeks ago

eMailbag: What's up with Santana Talks

i have been sent a few e-mails and IMs today asking about the state of talks regarding Johan Santana

…frankly, it’s quiet – and though i have talked with people connected to santana, as well as people connected to the teams involved, nothing has really changed all that much…

For a wild ride, click here and read back on all of this off-season’s Santana posts from MetsBlog.

…as i have been saying for weeks, though – and like others have started writing today – the Twins want Phil Hughes from the Yankees…plain and simple…it doesn’t matter if he is paired with Ian Kennedy…it’s all about hughes…the problem, though, is that Brian Cashman has no interest in trading him…

…my sense is that the Twins are simply baiting the Yankees in to giving up hughes by flirting with the Red Sox…i mean, on two occasions during the last two weeks, people close to santana were under the impression that he was inches from heading to boston…yet, nothing happened…i even heard a rumor that santana had rejected a deal to the Red Sox, which people connected to him have denied…to me, that stinks of minnesota-spin, hoping it would shake out hughes…and so far, it hasn’t…

…meanwhile, boston’s current offer is about as far as they’re willing to go…frankly, the sense i get, as i have written time and time again, is that the Red Sox are only really interested in santana to the extent that the Yankees are interested in santana, and vice-a-versa…which, as a Mets fan, is quite frustrating…i mean, if he can be had for a minimal-effort package, i’m sure the Yankees and Sox would happily take him, but if santana is going to cost a major talent i believe these two teams would just as soon see him on the Mets

…again, as i have said before, the Mets best bargaining chip is a) santana wanting to be in the National League, specifically on the Mets, and b) the Twins preferring he be out of the American League…the thing is, above all else, including which league he ends up in, the Twins have to get back some serious talent, which is why they’re most likely going to milk this while trying every possible way to get a player like hughes before they’re forced to make an ultimate decision – be it with the Mets, Red Sox, or whomever…

…honestly, the team i worry about is the Angels…i have not heard them mentioned at all, and have no real reason to fear them, but they’ve been so quiet – and they have the young talent and money to make a deal happen…

…as i said a while back, from what i can tell, if santana doesn’t end up on the Mets, it most likely means that either a) he and the Mets could not agree to the terms of a contract extension, b) the Twins simply chose to keep him for one more opening day, or c) the Twins had no choice but to skip over the Mets to accept a much-better offer that they couldn’t refuse, like getting hughes from the Yankees, and santana did not stand in their way, which all is still very possible…