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News » Mets upstaged Yanks with addition of two relievers


Mets upstaged Yanks with addition of two relievers


Mets upstaged Yanks with addition of two relievers
Nice recession, huh? Guess that word didn't get to New York as the Yankees and Mets were the biggest winners at last week's winter meetings. What happened in Vegas won't stay in Vegas, however, as it figures to have big impact on the standings next year and beyond.

While I subscribe to the theory that closers are often overrated, the view here is that the Mets' $37 million deal with Francisco Rodriguez will have far more impact than the Yankees' outnegotiate-ourselves sham with CC Sabathia and their overpayment for the overrated A.J. Burnett.

The Angels' quick playoff exit showed why K-Rod's 62 saves were somewhat overdone but imagine if he was with the Mets. All they needed to hold off the Phillies in the NL East was a closer and the Phils, remember, went on to win the World Series.

Now the Mets emerge with K-Rod -- and get J.J. Putz from Seattle to serve as a setup guy. It's got the chance to be the most dominant 1-2 punch since John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera led the Yankees to their Series title in 1996.

"All I kept on hearing in the streets of New York when you go get bagels in the morning was, 'Omar, please address the bullpen,' " Mets General Manager Omar Minaya told reporters in Vegas. "Well, all you Mets fans, we've addressed the bullpen. To get one closer like [Rodriguez] would have been a good winter. I think to get two guys like this is a great winter."

Putz, acquired in a three-team trade with Seattle and Cleveland, comes at the relatively cheap price of $5.3 million in 2009 and can easily spell K-Rod with ninth-inning duties from time to time. Somehow, I don't think the Mets will blow 29 saves next season like they did in 2008.

The Mets are thinner than the Yankees, however, in the rotation. In the Bronx, it will go Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and somebody (Phil Hughes? Ian Kennedy? Andy Pettitte?).

I don't think Yankees fans should be jumping for joy over their team's two big moves because they're rife with trouble.

There's Sabathia's weight, always an issue. The fact he's thrown more pitches than anyone in the game in recent years. And his inability to win in the postseason could make him an A-Rod type player on the mound in New York. Burnett was terrific in Toronto last season, largely because he knew he could opt out of his deal, and is also injury prone.

And we have no idea how either will react under the glare of the New York fans and media the first time they get into a bit of a slump or have to deal with an injury.

GM Brian Cashman left Vegas for a day to fly to San Francisco and meet with Sabathia and his wife. The Yankees upped their initial $140 million offer -- which no other team was within $40 million of -- and clearly got Mrs. Sabathia to sign off on playing in New York.

CC, frankly, was more comfortable in his native California and wanted to be on a National League team so he could hit. During the meetings, rumors were rife that he was pushing the Dodgers to get seriously involved so he could stay in the NL and pitch for Joe Torre.

When big-money guys have to be convinced to come to New York, that's often a recipe for trouble.

Other teams were quick to respond to the deal. Marlins President David Samson called it "laughable" that the Yankees were throwing that kind of money around and Oakland GM Billy Beane said the Yankees are in their own world and Sabathia's price tag shouldn't create a market for other players.

"That would be like saying Madonna sold her penthouse in Columbus Circle [in Manhattan] so therefore that may have an impact on whether my house would sell in Danville," Beane said, referring to an Oakland suburb.

The Yankees still have holes. They need a center fielder and hope a Mike Cameron-for-Melky Cabrera deal with the Brewers is the answer. The starting pitching quickly gets thin when Burnett has his inevitable injury or if anyone else goes down. What about the offense? Big question marks.

The Yankees finished third in the AL East. Yes, behind the Rays and Red Sox. The Mets barely missed the playoffs for the second straight year. As Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium get set to open, the boys in Queens are still well ahead of the Bronx Bombers.

***

Talent for hire

It's interesting how long the unemployment line remains after the meetings. Aside from Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez, there are plenty of other free agents still out there. Big ones include Trevor Hoffman, Milton Bradley, Randy Johnson, Brian Fuentes, Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi. The Rays have been courting Bradley and may look at Burrell. Giambi wants to return to Oakland but it's uncertain if interest is mutual.

The Nationals and Orioles are hotly in pursuit of Teixeira, a Baltimore native who could be a build-around player for those two sad-sack outfits. But the Angels still want to keep him and the Red Sox, whose lone splash last week was to announce new uniforms for '09, need to keep up with the Joneses, er, Yankees, and make a splash of their own.

I thought the Indians were going to make a big play for Hoffman, who nearly signed with Cleveland a couple of years ago. Instead, they got a deal done with ex-Cub Kerry Wood that should be a big boost to their pen.

***

Herd grapevine

*The Bisons will be unveiling their new logo and introducing new manager Ken Oberkfell to the media and public Tuesday in Pettibones Grille (the public session runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m.). It will be interesting to see what Oberkfell has to say after getting sent back to Triple-A after being a part of Jerry Manuel's staff in New York for the second half of last season. Oberkfell will certainly be able to relate to players on that front.

*The Bisons lost a potential power bat in the Mets' trade for Putz as first baseman/left fielder Mike Carp went to Seattle. The 22-year-old hit .299 with 17 homers and 72 RBIs last year at Double-A Binghamton.

*Color me unimpressed by the Mets' free agent signees to date. They announced nine minor-league deals last week and the only player who you might even recognize is former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitcher Nelson Figueroa, who has a 10-20 record in the big leagues but is 104-66 in the minors. He won 12 games for Nashville in both 2003 and '04.

***

Around the horn

*It's the economy, stupid. MLB.com laid off some senior writers from the game's highly profitable Intenet arm. The Blue Jays laid off 20 front office employees, most in the ticket/marketing areas, while the Diamondbacks' 31 layoffs were largely from their broadcast production arm. The Pirates are offering interest-free payment plans on season tickets for new and returning customers.

Only 12 teams are increasing ticket prices. The Athletics, Padres, Nationals and D'Backs are cutting prices on several thousand seats. The Red Sox announced a price freeze after 14 straight years of increases.

*You have to respect the way the Phillies trash talk and can then back it up. Jimmy Rollins became Public Enemy No. 1 with the way he thumbed his nose at the Mets since spring training last year and now World Series MVP Cole Hamels seems to be following suit.

In an interview Thursday on WFAN -- the sports radio giant of New York, no less -- Hamels agreed with a question that wondered if the Mets were "choke artists."

"That's kind of what we believed and I think we're always going to believe that until they prove us wrong," Hamels said. "For the past two years they've been choke artists."

*Deposed Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, a great guy with the media even though he had some issues in the clubhouse at times (see: Hillenbrand, Shea), has landed as the bench coach with the Royals. Just keep him away from powder keg Jose Guillen.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 16, 2008

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