Broadway is dark tonight, and will remain that way for the rest of the fall season. Instead, the center stage spotlight will brightly shimmer upon some improbable settings. As the Yankees were eliminated from postseason play last night by the Cleveland Indians, the city’s season officially came to an end. While there will be no ticker-tape parade celebrations through Times Square this October, rest assured, there will be no scarcity of action on the Hot Stove.
As the world gazes in awe, or in some cases, shuns their eyes from the remainder of the postseason, the Shea faithful hunt vigorously for the hottest, most intriguing rumors that blogs and columns have to offer in order to get their October baseball fix.
Omar Minaya for the very first time in his tenure at the helm of the Mets will be critically observed this winter after his ball club failed to make the playoffs in 2007. Following the most substantial collapse in the illustrious history of the sport, Minaya is obligated to deliver a winner this off-season.
Starting pitching upgrades and bullpen support are the main causes for distress this winter. With no glaring superstar available on the free agent market at either position, Minaya will almost certainly be forced to explore the trade market at some point in order to fill the void left by the departed Tom Glavine. A proven stopper is also essential upon the bullpen proving to be ineffective from top to bottom. Despite being under contract for the 2008 campaign, it isn’t likely that El Duque will be a fixture in the starting rotation, but rather as a useful piece in the depleted pen, making the need for starting pitching all the more prevalent.
Here is an early look at some players Minaya may seek to acquire in the coming months.
Joe Blanton: Not many organizations are interested in Lastings Milledge following his attitude issues and spotty play thus far in the big leagues. However, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane remains enamored with the young outfielder, and as he did last hot stove season. It is believed by many experts that he would likely part with pitcher Joe Blanton to obtain his services. If that indeed is the case, Minaya should not hesitate to pull the trigger. The organization is in dire need of starting pitching, but not more specifically ones who are young. At only 26 years of age, Blanton went 14-10 for the Athletics in 2007 with a stellar 3.95 ERA. More critical is the fact that he logged 230 innings, something the Mets will need to replace with Glavine likely gone.
Aaron Rowand: Rowand is a gamer, as he proved to the Mets on countless occasions over the last two seasons, just ask Xavier Nady. He goes all out every play and leaves it on the field. You would be hard pressed to find many players in the game today who play with a similar passion, which would make his addition all the more welcome. Though he played centerfield, he is more suited to be a right fielder and would be the perfect fit for what the Mets need to become If Lo Duca indeed is not retained, Rowand could definitely fill the spirited, vocal role that would be left it that were to occur. In 2007 he hit 26 home runs and plated 89 all while batting at a .309 clip and scoring 105 runs. He can likely be had for a three to four year deal worth about 10 million annually. Aaron is certainly an intangible player that could provide a huge lift to a club needing to add players with fire and passion.
Chad Cordero: Anyone who is familiar with Mets rumors is aware that the team has long been vying to attain his services. Drafted by Minaya while running the now defunct Montreal Expos, he has lethargically tried to bring him to Flushing, but failed in the heat of discussions. A package of young hurlers such as a Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey or Mike Pelfrey along Carlos Gomez would likely bring Cordero to Shea. The move would undoubtedly be costly in terms of blue chip prospects, but a reliever of Cordero’s stature is necessary if the Mets boast any true desire to be called champions.
The Mets are in a tricky situation in terms of where they currently stand. They possess a comfortable mix of youth and aging experience. The task is left to Minaya to capitalize, before the drafty window for a championship closes.