Mets remain buyers after quiet Meetings
Team continues its hunt for an elusive frontline starting pitcher
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- General manager Omar Minaya and his staff left Music City and the Winter Meetings on Thursday afternoon in much the same way they had arrived Monday. They showed up at the country music capital singing, "We're itchin' for pitchin,'" and departed singing a few lines from, "It sure is something how much nothing I got."
The Mets went 0-for-four-days or 0-for-three-swings: no Johan Santana, no Dan Haren, no Erik Bedard. And worse, they appear to have little chance of acquiring any one of the three primary starting pitchers on their wish list.
Minaya acknowledged Thursday he was every bit as confident about making a deal as he had been when he arrived. And perhaps there is something positive in all that. No other club has persuaded the Twins, A's and Orioles.
"I think we're in the pack," Minaya said.
But unless the Red Sox were merely trying to obstruct the Yankees in their pursuit of Santana, the Mets are at best a distant second in that competition. And neither the A's nor the Orioles has been overwhelmed by what the Mets have to offer.
"Even if the Mets put together a four-man package, it's still not going to be enough. What they have isn't exciting anybody," a general manager from another club said Thursday. "These are pretty good pitchers everyone's going after. You've got to give up 'A' material. The Mets don't have that young player that every club wants."
And without that player, the Mets seem more destined to add Freddy Garcia or Livan Hernandez than they are to bring in a difference-maker.
Deals done: None at the Winter Meetings. Prior to Nashville, they acquired switch-hitting catcher Johnny Estrada from the Brewers for right-handed pitcher Guillermo Mota, re-signed switch-hitting second baseman Luis Castillo (four-years, $25 million), exercised the 2008 option on the contract of right-handed-hitting outfielder Moises Alou ($7.5 million), re-signed left-handed-hitting free agent Marlon Anderson (two years, $2.2 million), re-signed free-agent catcher Ramon Castro (two years, $4.6 million), and re-signed right-handed-hitting second baseman Damion Easley ($950,000).
Rule 5 activity: Mets selected 24-year-old right-handed reliever Steven Register from the roster of the Rockies' Triple-A Tulsa affiliate and 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Garry Bakker from the White Sox organization in the Triple-A phase of the draft.
Goals accomplished: None, really. Minaya says he has a better idea now than he had when he arrived in Nashville of what it will take to make a deal. But it doesn't appear that knowledge will be enough.
Unfinished business: Despite the Mets' assertions that they're comfortable going forward with their rotation as currently constituted -- Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez and Mike Pelfrey -- they still want a front-of-the rotation starter. If they are unable to fill that need, they probably will turn to a veteran innings-eater. They also would like to add all-purpose Alfredo Amezaga, who started games at shortstop, third base, second base and the outfield with the Marlins last season.
GM's bottom line: "We still have time and we still have premier young players. We consider ourselves still in the hunt in a few places." -- Minaya, on the Mets' pursuit of a starting pitcher
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.