Blockbuster Coming?

The trading deadline (and my wife’s birthday) is 10 days away. The Mets are currently in a tie for first place with the Phillies, and go into Philly return to Shea for a three-game series on Tuesday. Omar Minaya has been remarkably quiet.

I smell a trade coming … a big one.

While it’s true the Mets have no chips to trade, I have a funny feeling that Omar will pull off something, and get something big in return. And not Raul Ibanez big.

Carlos Lee big.

Huh?

Before you poo-poo Gotham Baseball’s latest rumor, consider this: Lee is 32 years old and signed through 2012, for a total of $74M after this season. Houston owner Drayton McLane has to be re-thinking that contract, and with the Astros 12 games behind and nowhere near the talent level of the Brewers and Cubs, he might be thinking of trading away Lee while his stock is high.

No doubt the cost would include the Mets’ top prospects — i.e., Jon Niese, Mike Carp, F-Mart — but there’s an outside possibility they can pull off something that doesn’t include crown jewel Fernando Martinez. For example, the Mets might instead put Aaron Heilman and a few of their very young hurlers (Nathan Vineyard, Bobby Parnell, Brant Rustich) into a package. Why would the Astros bite? Think about it — there are only two other teams in MLB who would take on that kind of contract for a player on the wrong side of 30 — the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Bosox won’t do it because they can pick up their two options on Manny Ramirez. The Yankees could be a suitor in the offseason, but right now seem uninterested in dealing away any more of their youth.

Gotham also suggests Willie Bloomquist — a guy I never considered but does seem to be a decent fit. Still, I think we’ll see something bigger, and keep looking at the Baltimore Orioles and all their bad contracts. Furthermore, the latest news that Billy Wagner needs an MRI on his shoulder means the Mets are suddenly in the market for a closer. Could Huston Street be in their sights? Or at the least, Rafael Betancourt?

Most likely, what the Mets do before the 31st will depend directly on what happens this week. If the Mets have a strong series in Philly, and take at least two, they might just stand pat — or make a minor deal. If they lose at least two, though, you can bet your bottom dollar that a panic deal will be made. Minaya’s job is on the line this season, and he MUST get the Mets to the postseason. My best guess is Aaron Heilman is on the way out, as well as either Scott Schoeneweis or Pedro Feliciano. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Church was put into a deal for the right player (i.e., Street … with Matt Murton, or Carlos Lee). Think I’m nuts? You would have thought the same thing on this date in 2006 if I said the Mets would trade Xavier Nady for a 41-year-old reliever and a starting pitcher sent to AAA after posting a 2-10 record. Crazy things happen this time of year.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude July 21, 2008 at 7:37 am
    Sorry, Joe, but I don’t see the Carlos Lee connection. Let’s assume Houston wants to deal El Caballo (since there hasn’t been any rumor of it so far). I don’t know why the Mets would want to further deplete their system – especially their pitching prospects – for a pricey and aging OF when we already have Beltran and Church locked up through 2011 and F-Mart soon to inherit LF. Of course, one of those 3 could be involved in the deal, but I don’t think anyone wants to touch Church right now with his concussion/migraine problems, and Beltran has a full no-trade clause. That narrows it down to F-Mart, and I’d be surprised to see him shipped out after all the hype and excitement. You’re right – crazier things have happened – but I think the Mets would be much better off “settling” for a lesser OF who isn’t making gobs of money, won’t demand top prospects in return for, and isn’t signed for longer than another year, allowing F-Mart to take over LF full-time no later than 2010.
  2. isuzudude July 21, 2008 at 7:41 am
    Also, not mentioned in that Gotham Baseball article is that Lee has a no-trade clause, as well. Not saying he wouldn’t waive it, but it is an obstacle that should be reported.
  3. joe July 21, 2008 at 7:57 am
    The no-trade clause is significant, because it seemed that everyone knew Lee was already wealthy (he married well) and was going to sign with Houston (or the Rangers) for no reason other than that’s where he wanted to be — in Texas, where he could raise and market cattle.

    But Lee DOES fit the type of player the Mets are going after — meaning, someone with a huge contract. Remember they don’t have the chips to compete with other clubs, but they do have the cash to relieve someone of a bad contract. Omar WILL NOT HAVE A JOB if the Mets don’t go to the postseason, so if there’s a player out there available to the Mets in the Lee / Holliday category, I wouldn’t be surprised to see F-Mart go.

    Also have to disagree on Church. Yes he’s having neurological issues now but a team that is selling is not looking at this year. I suppose there is some concern but doubt anyone thinks his career is over. A team in last place could deal for him and shut him down for the year, thinking toward 2009.

    Yeah, this is all REALLY whimsical but again, no one saw that Nady deal coming in ’06. Anything can happen in the next 10 days.

  4. EastFallowfield July 21, 2008 at 11:03 am
    By the way, they’re not playing in Philly but they are playing in Queens, NY.
  5. MDKidd July 21, 2008 at 1:54 pm
    If they made a movie about this team and it’s fans, nobody would believe it. No one would believe that anyone could be that moronic. A month ago, everyone was convinced that the Mets and Omar had depleted the farm system and some restocking was long overdue. A month and a few wins later, suddenly the Mets and their fans have mysteriously forgotten those valuable lessons and simply can’t wait to overspend and mortgage the future on some more soon to be over-the-hill has beens.

    Even more amazing, Omar, rumored to be clinging to his job (presumably for overspending and mortgaging the future on yesterday’s over-the-hill has beens) is now poised to “save” his job by doing what??? Well, by overspending and mortgaging the future on tomorrow’s soon to be over-the-hill has beens, of course. Makes perfect sense …. if you’ve had a lobotomy!!!

    No, this movie would never fly. No one would believe anyone could be that moronic.

  6. sincekindergarten July 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm
    I was thinking the same thing last night, Joe. It’s the feeling one gets when, while in the forest, it’s absolutely silent–not even the chickadees are singing. Something is about to happen.

    I was thinking something along the lines of a corner outfileder, as well. Or a starting pitcher (A.J. Burnett?).

    But, Omar’s best chance is to stand pat and not give up any of the young pitchers or FMart.

  7. joe July 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm
    Thanks EastFallowField … I made the dumb and unprofessional mistake of assuming the Mets would stay on the road after three days in Cincy. This is why I’m here and not on ESPN lol!

    MDKidd, Minaya would not lose his job if he depleted the farm system but put the Mets in the postseason in the year before the opening of Citi Field. But he chose this road the day Pedro was signed.

    This is not to say I am in favor of Minaya’s ways … I would like to see more from the farm system — in fact I’d have been happy to see Mike Jacobs given a shot at first rather than traded for Delgado. But you can’t build an organization in one year — it takes several years of good drafting. With Citi Field opening, ticket prices going through the roof, the economy in a downturn, what is Omar going to do, today? Tell the Wilpons, “hey, we’ll compete this year, and if we make it to the playoffs, great … if not, we’ll have some really exciting players in 2011”. Don’t think so. His guy (Randolph) is gone and he’s next if the team doesn’t perform.

    BTW I don’t think the Mets should be trading away any more of what’s left of the farm — and have said as much several times in recent weeks. I’m looking at this from the front office perspective — the people that overpaid Pedro, Beltran, Schoeneweis, Delgado, etc., because they thought we Mets fans didn’t have the patience to wait for a team to rebuild from within.

  8. murph July 21, 2008 at 10:46 pm
    If the winter trade talks are called the hot stove league, what are summer trade deadline proposals? The air conditioner league?

    Anyway, here’s my contribution to the trade proposal banter.
    And Joe, it would definitely be a blockbuster if it were to happen:

    I heard this one today in a casual conversation among a Mets fan, Yankees fan, Red Sox fan and Orioles-turned-local-NY fan that The Sox are again considering moving Manny. There are only a few teams that can afford him, including the two NY teams. Both NY teams need a left-fielder this year. Obviously, the Red Sox would not trade him to the Yankees, so let’s look at the Mets:
    – The Mets definitely need a left fielder
    – Omar has previously expressed interest in Manny
    – Remember Joe’s point about Omar possibly needing to get to the post-season this year to save his job.

    But then the counter response:
    What do the Mets have that the Red Sox want/need?
    Maybe not much of a fit, so let’s bring in a third team:
    The Rockies, with Matt Holliday.
    The Sox move Manny to NYM.
    The Rockies move Matt Holliday to Boston.
    The Mets and Red Sox move a combination of major league and minor league players to the Rockies to make up the difference.

    Just a thought.

  9. joe July 22, 2008 at 12:20 am
    You got it, murph … the AC league! LOL!

    We all know Omar loves Manny, and has been after him for three years, and I kept thinking “could it happen, but how?” … Murph you may be on to something there with the 3-way. It makes a heckuva lot of sense from a number of angles, the main one being that the Mets can foot the bill. Yes, Manny’s deal has a club option, but there’s no way the Bosox let him go free — even at $20M he’s a bargain. But if they can part ways with him and bring in Holliday — I think they’d be OK with parting with a couple prospects.

    And the Mets can get away with dealing Scho or Feliciano (the Bosox being in the market for a LHP), Heilman, and a couple of those high-ceiling A-ball guys (Vineyard? Rustich?). Church might have to be part of the deal, but for Manny it’s tempting. Colorado would LOVE Church’s dedication to the Christian faith and he has a great name for a team that thinks Jesus helps them win.

    BTW, the Carlos Lee rumors are not unfounded … just because Ken Rosenthal isn’t reporting it (yet) doesn’t mean it’s a conjured story. My somewhat reliable sources tell me the ‘stros are putting EVERYONE on the block and listening to offers — Lee, Tejada, Oswalt, heck, they’re even open to dealing Hunter Pence. Naturally,they’re looking to shed bad contracts, and as good as El Caballo is hitting this year, that’s a bad contract. I don’t think that the Mets have what it takes to get him, but, now that Murph has opened my eyes to a three-way with the Bosox … maybe they’ll end up with Manny and Lee goes to Fenway. Stranger things have happened.

  10. sincekindergarten July 22, 2008 at 4:23 am
    Murph, the Mets are rumored to be “burning up the phone lines in their search for a LF,” so nothing would surprise me. Plus, maybe having Manny in LF at Shea is a motivator for Pedro to come back really strong, too. Pedro will motivate Manny. I think the Schow is the one to part with for the Bosox–he’s been in pressure situations before, and he remembers how to win (a WS ring in ’02 with the Angels).
  11. isuzudude July 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm
    mlb.com is reporting the Astros are acquiring Randy Wolf from San Diego for a prospect(s). so much for being sellers at the deadline…
  12. sincekindergarten July 22, 2008 at 5:39 pm
    And, the D’Backs got Jon Rauch from the Nationals for a reserve 2B.