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Hot Stove Daily: New York Mets

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports

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Smoltz

Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the New York Mets.

2007 record:88-74

Finish:Second place in the National League East

2007 Opening-day payroll:$116 million

Free agents:Marlon Anderson OF; Moises Alou OF; Ramon Castro C; Luis Castillo 2B; Damion Easley 2B; Paul Lo Duca C; Tom Glavine LHP; Shawn Green OF; Brian Lawrence RHP; Aaron Sele RHP; Jose Valentin 2B

WISH LIST

Omar Minaya already has picked up the option on Moises Alou and re-signed Marlon Anderson, Ramon Castro, Luis Castillo (four years, $25 million) and Damion Easley, then, as expected and not entirely regretted, lost Tom Glavine to the Atlanta Braves.

He also traded reliever Guillermo Mota to the Milwaukee Brewers for catcher Johnny Estrada days after negotiations with Yorvit Torrealba fell through. So, at the very least, credit Minaya with responding decisively in the wake of his team's September meltdown.

Next on the agenda is a No. 1 or 2 starter to lead a rotation of Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernandez/Mike Pelfrey/Phil Humber. The Mets also, believe it or not, held broad discussions about Andruw Jones, presumably in case Lastings Milledge and/or Carlos Gomez must be included for a frontline starter. That seems like a longshot.

Like most, the Mets aren't all that enthralled with the free-agent starters available. Minaya is more in the mood to make a deal, so is monitoring the relative availability of Johan Santana, Erik Bedard, Joe Blanton, Dan Haren, Ben Sheets, Matt Garza and Dontrelle Willis. For the first time, he appears willing to part with some previously protected prospects, such as outfielders Milledge, Gomez and Fernando Martinez, and he might even be talked into trading Aaron Heilman, Humber, Pelfrey or Kevin Mulvey, whom scouts love.

REALITY CHECK

Jones

Reyes

As an organization, the Mets are still mopping up the blood from one of the great stretch-drive hemorrhages in baseball history.

Manager Willie Randolph, who generally stood by as his seven-game lead was lost in 15 September days, is promising a harder tack next season. He could start with shortstop Jose Reyes, a special talent whose late-season disappearance coincided with the Mets'. He's just 24, and previously dealt easily with the big stage and bigger expectations.

Another potential issue is Carlos Delgado, the slugging first baseman who, at 35, stopped slugging. His .258 batting average, .333 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage were his lowest since becoming an everyday player in 1996.

Assuming they replace Glavine – from within the organization or by trade – the Mets have enough talent to retake their place at the top of the division, even as the Philadelphia Phillies and Braves improve. The chore will be burying the regret and apprehension that took root in September.

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