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Friday, February 20, 2004

The Untouchables? Mets' Brass Give Some Fans Hope, Scare the $#!% Out of Others 

Mets GM Jim Duquette has said in the past that if the Mets find themselves contending for a playoff birth this season, the team would not be hesitant to pull the trigger on a trade. Duquette reiterated these sentiments yesterday when he, according to MLB.com, "stressed that he certainly has the resources to improve the club further as the season progresses should the situation warrant making a move." Duquette said that should the team be in contention this year, they might make as many as three in-season trades: "Whether that will translate into one player, two players or three additional players, I don't know. . . We're anticipating that because we'll be playing meaningful games, we're going to be more active on the trade market."

What does this all mean? By shedding about $35 million off the payroll, Duquette seems to be saying that the team has a cash reserve that can be used to take on contracts of players in their walk years whose teams are out of contention. While this thought gives Mets fans hope for this season, it also scares the $#!% out of others. Should the Mets make a trade they would most likely do so in an effort to upgrade in right field and/or to add a front of the rotation starting pitcher. However, solid starting pitching and power hitting corner outfielders don't come cheap. The Mets would not be willing to risk the future of the franchise by trading top prospects simply because the team played well for a few months, right? Mets top pitching prospects such as Scott Kazmir, Matt Peterson, and Rob Keppel would be off limits, right? Top position player prospects like David Wright, Victor Diaz, Craig Brazell and Justin Huber are untouchable, right?

Skimming the 2004/2005 free agent class, two names jump off the page as potential players the Mets might look into as the trade deadline approaches if they find themselves in contention: Cardinals starting pitcher Matt Morris and White Sox right fielder Maglio Ordonez. But what would the Mets be willing to give up to get them? Would the Mets try to trade for them then attempt to immediately sign them to longer term deals that go beyond the current season? If so, will the Mets be willing to break from their new found free agent rule of only guaranteeing three years, which they would most likely need to in order to sign either of these two players? The Mets have been uncompromising in their new plan of getting younger and more athletic. Strengthening the farm system has been a major component of this. If the Mets are contending by the trading deadline, the pressure to make a big move will be stronger than ever. Let's just hope the Mets don't sell their soul to the devil in exchange for a three month rental.
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