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Coleman’s Corner: A Quiet Start For Alderson

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(credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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By Ed Coleman
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As the winter meetings loom around the corner, many clubs around baseball have been busy . The Mets – not so much. But there have been developments in the off-season, so let’s get to them.

Durable lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano has declined the Mets’ arbitration offer and will continue to pursue free agency. It makes sense for the 34-year-old Feliciano, who made $2.9 million last season and would probably earn somewhere between $4-5 million on a one-year contract if he agreed to arbitration with the Mets. But the way the market has gone, Feliciano stands a pretty good chance of landing a 2-year deal worth somewhere between $7-8 million. If he goes elsewhere, the Mets will have a hard time replacing him. Feliciano increased his relief appearances in 3 straight seasons – 86, 88 and 92 from 2008-10 – and that’s 28 more appearances than any other reliever in baseball over the last three years. Feliciano’s workload always raised concerns, but the rubber-armed lefty was good-as-gold against the perennial N.L. East champion Phillies. He dominated their 3 prominent lefty swingers – Ryan Howard (1 HR – .196 BA – 36 AB), Chase Utley (2HR – .222 BA – 36 AB) and Raul Ibanez (1 HR – .154 BA – 13 AB). Meanwhile, the Mets may have made their arbitration offer to Feliciano in order to receive draft-pick compensation. If Feliciano does indeed sign elsewhere, the Mets will get a supplemental draft choice between the first and second rounds.

With Feliciano likely exiting, the Mets announced the re-signing of lefty Mike O’Connor to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. O’Connor pitched well at Triple AAA Buffalo this past season, going 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 6 saves in 51 games. He also averaged a strikeout per inning – 70 K’s in 70 2/3 innings. O’Connor was originally in the Washington system, and started 20 games for the Nationals back in 2006. He’s also pitching well this winter in the Dominican Republic, with an ERA under 2 for Licey.

Thursday will mark the nontender deadline when teams can cut loose arbitration-eligible players, and expect the Mets to do exactly that with oft-injured John Maine. Righty reliever Sean Green is another possible casualty, although the fact that he made under $1 million last season might spare him from that fate, at least until spring training.

How’s Ollie doing? Thought you’d never ask. Actually quite well, even if it is the Mexican League. The enigmatic southpaw is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 7 games thus far. Perez has made two starts and – hold your breath – has thrown 10 consecutive scoreless innings (4 & 6). In 15 innings of work for Tomateros de Culiacan, Perez has surrendered 12 hits and has shaken off a rough beginning out of the bullpen. The walks are still high (9) but he has struck out 14. Lefty out of the pen? Fifth starter? Not to worry – Ollie’s trying to find that magic.

Several Mets were in New York on Monday for checkups. Nick Evans has a labrum tear in his left non-throwing shoulder, but has been swinging a bat pain-free. Fernando Martinez experienced pain in his right knee while playing in the Dominican – he has a mild case of arthritis, and will wear a brace and strengthen it before resuming playing. And Daniel Murphy – remember him – has a mild hamstring strain. He will rehab and return to the Dominican shortly.

Murphy is interesting and he may resurface prominently in spring training, especially if the Mets hold firm on their no-frills budget. Things went from bad to worse last spring for Murphy. He suffered a knee injury during a spring training game and eventually lost the 1B job to Ike Davis. Then he further damaged the knee while playing 2B in the minors (an opponent took him out on a late hit while breaking up a double play) and he was done for the year. Murphy is playing and performing well for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican, playing 2B and also a little first and third. In 28 games, Murphy is batting .320 with 4 HR and 22 RBI. He also has 6 doubles, 13 walks, 5 stolen bases and a .395 OBP. It’s hard to envision a double-play combination of Murphy and Jose Reyes, but Murphy can and probably would put up impressive offensive numbers for a 2B if given the opportunity. I know Orlando Hudson is out there, but we’re talking reality – and limited resources.

As mentioned in this space previously, the Mets should have and indeed do have strong interest in signing righty starter Chris Young. Young is exactly the kind of pitcher the Mets are searching for at this time in their re-configuration. He has been much injured of late (shoulder problems) and would be receptive to a short-term, incentive-laden deal. Young has the temperment to pitch in New York, and he has ties with both Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta from his San Diego days. He’s extremely intelligent (Princeton grad) with a terrific personality and knows how to pitch – and CitiField would suit him perfectly. Sign him! Other pitchers the Mets should consider – Jeremy Bonderman and Brandon Webb, although both may end up being too rich for their taste.

The Mets need a veteran catcher to complement Josh Thole, and I thought the best one out there might be Yorvit Torrealba. But Torrealba just signed a 2-year deal worth $6.25 million with A.L. champion Texas. Also, Torrealba might not have even considered the Mets after the “he’s signed – no, he’s not signed” debacle under Omar Minaya from a few years back.

The world champion Giants needed a shortstop, so Jose Reyes’ name popped up in trade rumors. So Juan Uribe ended up signing with the division rival Dodgers, the Giants have brought in Miguel Tejada, and Reyes will be here. Look, the Mets will investigate Reyes’ trade value, they’d be crazy not to. But Reyes – now in his prime years – is not at his prime value at the moment, his game is made for CitiField, and you have to give him a chance to be healthy and happy, and maybe show the dynamic talent that he can be. We’re all waiting, and maybe 2011 is the year – finally.

Has any G.M. done a better job thus far than Ned Colletti of the Dodgers? He just signed Uribe, and while most teams are scuffling or searching for 4th and 5th starters, Colletti already has an entire rotation set. He re-signed both Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda to join Chad Billingsley and ace Clayton Kershaw, then went out and got free agent Jon Garland, a consistent 200 inning starter each year, to be their # 5. Pretty good work.

Are you kidding? Jamie Moyer just announced he hopes to pitch – not in 2011 – but rather in 2012 – after he undergoes Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.. Say what? The man has pitched 24 seasons and over 4000 innings. Hey Jamie, it’s time to be home with your kids – before they forget who you are.

C U soon
Eddie C.

pixy Coleman’s Corner: A Quiet Start For Alderson
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