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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Duquette on WFAN 

With the Mets playing inspired - albeit inconsistent - ball, it seems the fans are not the only ones intoxicated with thoughts of post season play. Mets GM Jim Duquette, appearing on WFAN's Mac & Sid Show, has apparently taken a few swigs out of the bottle of Absolut Playoffs as well. Duquette made it painfully clear that he is willing to trade away prospects, perhaps even "better known talent" in the Mets farm system for an impact player or two and wants to do it sooner rather than later. Duquette insinuated that he is hovering over the teams that have begun to fall out of contention but teams are unwilling to part with their players so early in the season. Two obvious possibilities, which Mac & Sid threw out to Duquette, are the Mariners Freddy Garcia and the Royals Carlos Beltran - both of whom are in their walk years. Duquette simply responded that anything is possible and that he would prefer trading "chips" over players currently on the big league club.

My initial interpretation of the Duquette plan was wrong. I originally thought that Duquette planned on pulling the wool over the eyes of the average Met fan by fielding a decent team this year that would keep fannies in the seats throughout the year while, on the down low, quietly rebuilding for the future. I was wrong. For good or bad the Mets find themselves in a quandary. The "decent" team they planned to field to simply keep things interesting has shown signs that it can overtake a weak NL East. With just a few more players, this logic goes, the Mets can either win the division or get into the playoffs via the wild card. While I would love to sit here and criticize the Mets for being short sighted etc..., I have to admit that I can't fault them for trying to take advantage of what may be a golden opportunity to sneak up on the NL East. That said, this does not mean that I would endorse any trade that would send a top tier prospect away for a half year rental. If, for example, Met top pitching prospect Scott Kazmir gets sent to Seattle for Freddy Garcia, there's a good chance I would drive to Flushing and introduce Duquette to my Uncle Louie. On the other hand, could anyone fault the Mets if, for example, they traded Kazmir for Carlos Beltran and signed him to a long-term deal? I certainly couldn't. I guess we're going to have to wait and see.

Duquette also spoke of Mets top position prospect David Wright and his time-table for arriving at Shea. Duquette said that the organization is currently in discussions regarding the proper time to send Wright from AA to AAA ball. If I were part of these discussions I would quietly lean across the board room table and ever so subtly say, "GET THE KID ON THE FIRST BUS TO NORFOLK!!!" Wright, in 145 at bats, is hitting .338/.452/.586 with 7 HR, 23 RBI and 14 SBs. Wright finds himself in the top 5 in just about every offensive category in the Eastern League and, combined with the offense, also plays a stellar defensive third base. Duquette continued that the Mets would like to send Wright to AAA to see how he reacts to better pitching and from there "anything can happen." In other words, Wright will not be making a Miguel Cabrera-like jump from AA to MLB but his stint in AAA may be short lived and we will likely see Wright manning the real Shea Hot Corner at some point this season. Duquette compared Wright's planned MLB track to that of Jose Reyes who, according to Duquette, was ready for the bigs in May of last year but was kept in the minors for a few more weeks of seasoning. Reyes had 275 at bats in AA then 160 at bats in AAA before being called up. Also of note is that the Mets plan to move AA pitching prospect Matt Peterson (3 & 0, 2.35 ERA) in unison, or very close, to Wright if possible. If that's the case, we may see both Wright and Peterson in Flushing by the end of the year.

Finally, regarding the back of the starting rotation, Duquette said that Matt Ginter, who pitched 5.2 innings of one run (one earned run) ball against Roger Clemens and the Astros last week, earned himself at least one more start. Whichever pitcher is manning the back of the rotation it's clear they are on a short leash. Duquette said that one of the reasons Tyler Yates was demoted to AAA was that Rick Peterson spotted some flaws in his mechanics that caused him to lose velocity. Yates was able to make two modifications to his mechanics in AAA, regained some of his lost velocity, and tossed 5.2 innings of no hit ball while striking out 5 in his first start for the Tides.
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