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Fantasy Forecast: "The MLB Hot Stove 2"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

With spring training just 36 days away, Fantasy Forecast is spot-lighting the three teams that have been busiest during the Major League Baseball hot-

stove. Last week we looked at the Toronto Blue Jays, who were by far the busiest American League Organization.

This week, we are focusing in on the New York Mets, who can say without dispute that they had a more impressive off-season than any other team in the National League. Although Met General Manager Omar Minaya did not fulfill his dream of adding Boston's Manny Ramirez to his outfield, he was able to rebuild an underachieving Met roster that needed a much-needed boost.

The calendar had not even turned from October to November when Minaya declined club options to RHP Braden Looper and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz. The White Sox's World Series Championship Parade had not even come to a close and already the evolution had begun.

Minaya also went on to reinstate Mike Cameron from the disabled list, only to send Cameron packing for San Diego two weeks later. The Mets lose a potential 20/20 threat to the Padres, but rest assured his .249 career batting average will not be missed. It also would in no way benefit your fantasy squad either.

The Mets also bid farewell to two young prospects in a deal that brought them a legitimate cleanup hitter. C/1B Mike Jacobs and RHP Yusumeiro Petit are now Marlins and chances are they will succeed. Jacobs is a very talented power hitter from the left side. Petit is a highly-touted prospect that has shown brilliance at every level. He should compete for a starting rotation spot for the Marlins in 2006. Jacobs and Petit should both be seen as valuable players to have on a keeper league roster.

In a legal arms deal, RHP Jae Seo and LHP Tim Hamulack were then dealt to the Dodgers in an attempt to bolster the bullpen. Seo was 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA for the Mets last season, displaying ho-hum stuff. Hamulack is a 29-

year-old that will find himself pitching in middle-relief this season. The Dodgers saw them worthy of their roster, but you should look elsewhere for yours.

All in all the Mets lost very little through the hot-stove season, especially once you see the caliber of players they brought in to join Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and company.

The Mets sacrificed some of their young to acquire players with the ability to make the Mets solid World Series contenders in 2006. They got the ball rolling early in the off-season by making a trade with the Padres which landed them Xavier Nady. Nady leaves San Diego, where he failed to get the at-bats needed to become the solid all-around player many still feel he can become.

Thing is, the Mets made so many moves that his number of at-bats in New York will also come into question (poor guy). If you are looking for an impact outfielder, his limited at bats lead us to believe you should look somewhere else.

One week later Minaya struck the match that led to the Marlins fire sale. Minaya pulled one of the most brilliant deals of the off-season by acquiring 1B Carlos Delgado to bat cleanup behind Reyes, Beltran and Wright, giving the Mets one of the most feared lineups (one through four) in all of baseball. At this point, all four players are ranked very high on my draft list.

Within the next week, Minaya had landed LHP Billy Wagner and OF Tike Redman. Redman is nothing more than a bench outfielder, but Wagner was arguably the best closer on the market. In inking Wagner to a four year deal, the Mets questions at closer were quickly answered. You too can assure yourself one of the best closers in all of baseball by taking Wagner on draft day.

The Marlins fire sale drew more attention than day-after-Christmas sales, and Minaya must have thought, "What the heck?" and decided to take advantage once again; this time trading for Marlins catcher, Paul LoDuca. LoDuca's solid batting average and game calling skills makes him a solid catcher for any team, including your fantasy roster.

Minaya could have stopped there, but I fear that someone must have sprinkled something other than sugar on his Corn Flakes on New Years Day because he went nuts.

Just last week, Minaya signed 2B Brett Boone. For those of you that were living in a cave the last two seasons, Boone's production has fallen faster than the temperature did around here night before last.

Sure, he is a four-time Gold Glove winner and has been an All-Star on three different occasions, but if you pick him up to play second for your team, start building for '08.

The Mets then went on to sign Julio Franco, who is 97-years-old. Oh wait, I'm sorry. That's a mistake. He's just 47. That's right-- FORTY SEVEN! And the Mets did not sign him to a one year deal--oh no!--they signed him for TWO! He turns 48 in August, so this means he will turn 50 while signed with a major league organization. Incredible!

RHP Duaner Sanchez and RHP Steve Schmoll were also acquired last week in a swap with the Dodgers and other players have been acquired here and there along the way, but none of these transactions will have any effect on your fantasy squad.

The only thing I can see in the Mets future could be a trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Rumored for months the Mets could possibly acquire 1B/OF Aubrey Huff and RHP Danys Baez.

Both are solid major leaguers that would make the Mets even better than they already are.

Baez saved a career high 41 games last season and would add to a bullpen that is already anchored by Billy Wagner. Huff is a legit .300 hitter with some major pop. If the Mets pull this deal off or any deal like it, look out! That Braves streak of 14 straight division championships could definitely get snapped.

There really is just one battle out there for the Mets to determine. That battle will come at second base.

Brett Boone and Kaz Matsui seem to be the front-runners for the job, but for your own sake, DO NOT DRAFT A MET SECOND BASEMAN in 2006. If you get a chance, draft Delgado, Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Pedro, Wagner, LoDuca, and possibly Floyd. But know that anyone else is a high risk draft pick.

If you have any questions concerning keeper leagues, point leagues, auction leagues, prospects, sleepers, come-back players, etc, send me an email and I will address your question in print.

I appreciate and look forward to receiving your emails. Feel free to send any suggestions or comments you may have to John Ginther at cardfan_yak@yahoo.com.