Keeping Things Quiet
Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog.com made a great point about Omar Minaya’s surreptitious ways, and the tight-as-a-drum front office. In this day and age of information overload — pushed to the brink by the immediacy and popularity of the internet — keeping a rumor under wraps is next to impossible. However, this winter, the Mets have done a marvelous job of keeping nearly every acquisition a secret.
Although the early signing of Moises Alou was far from a shocker — the Mets were rumored to be after him at the trade deadline and as late as the last week of August 2006 — every other deal since was more or less a complete surprise, beginning with the Marlins trade for Jason Vargas et al, the signing of Damion Easley and going right up to the recent pickup of Aaron Sele. Seriously now, did ANYONE think the Mets were comfortable trading away fireballers Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom, and potential fifth starter Brian Bannister? These deals came completely out of the blue. I also doubt anyone foresaw the departure of BOTH Royce Ring and Heath Bell in the same trade — it would seem too, I don’t know … appropriate.
Not one newspaper columnist, MLB “insider”, nor blogger saw those November deals coming, and I don’t recall seeing even a blogging commenter suggest that the Mets consider picking up Ambiorix Burgos, Jason Standridge, or Ben Johnson. Bloggers and commentors are always throwing out names and deals from left field, and not one ever said, “hey, the Mets should see if Jason Vargas is available.” Similarly, no one had David Newhan on their radar. Even as late as mid-January, with the Mets’ pitching staff in a complete shambles, and less than a dozen half-decent free-agent options out there, everybody was pointing to Jeff Weaver, Tony Armas Jr., and Tomo Ohka — while Scott Schoeneweis, Jorge Sosa, and Aaron Sele quietly snuck through Shea Stadium’s back door.
Conversely, it seemed that the more noise was made about a player or trade, the less likely it was to happen. We all know that Barry Zito was “supposed to” become a Met, Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge were to be ex-Mets, and any one of several second basemen were going to sign any day. Remember the earliest free-agent rumors? First Adam Kennedy was coming eastward, then Mark Loretta. Once the winter meetings were over, the Mets were sure to walk out with a pitcher from the A’s or White Sox, or have Jason Jennings fitting into the orange and blue. In the end, none of these things happened.
It’s clear that Omar and co. believe “loose lips sink ships” — but what does that tell us for the next few weeks as we restlessly await the reporting date for pitchers and catchers (which for the Mets is February 16th … one more day of agony than most other teams’ fans have to endure)?
I think it means one more bombshell is going to fall before mid-February. Last year, no one saw the the Jae Seo trade coming, and after that deal, everyone thought Kris Benson was safe. What will the late-offseason shockers be this year? Will Heilman and Milledge finally be traded, but for someone who hasn’t been mentioned thus far? Or now that Sele and Sosa have been added to the starter competition — seemingly solidifying Heilman’s place in the ‘pen — will it come out that Heilman will be a starter candidate anyway? Is Ronny Belliard the next out-of-the-blue free-agent signing? Will Bobby Ojeda or Frank Viola come out of retirement to claim a starter spot? Hey, we’ve got to really think out of the box to try and predict Omar’s next move. Try to think of a name that hasn’t been mentioned all winter long, and you might be on to the Mets’ latest target. Who knows, we may see Curt Schilling, Michael Young, or Vlad Guerrero find his way to Flushing. Maybe a way-off-the-radar deal will fetch Ryan Doumit, Phil Nevin, or Casey Fossum. Did we have a clue that Paul LoDuca and Carlos Delgado were available after the 2005 season? Would anyone have guessed Xavier Nady would be traded at the deadline in 2006?
With Omar Minaya in Africa for the next week, all will likely be quiet on the Mets’ front. But then, that’s the way it always is …