Winter Meetings Notebook: Trying to Land Cameron

Since taking over the reigns as Mets general manager at the end of October, Jim Duquette has preached building a team based upon solid defense and above-average speed. This method particularly up the middle of the field. With that said, it would make sense then, as anticipated, that the Mets are heavily pursuing the services of free agent centerfielder Mike Cameron and Duquette confirmed that notion Friday night in New Orleans. Also: news on Pedro Martinez, Miguel Batista, and Reggie Sanders.

The GM said that Cameron is in town and that the club is extremely interested in bringing him on board to roam the outfield of Shea Stadium.

"I think we've done what we can in items of trying to educate him about the organization and convince him to sign here," Duquette said Friday to the Associated Press. "We had discussions about what our plan is for next year, how he fits in, how he can help us to turn around quickly."

Cameron, 30, captured his second Gold Glove in November and hit .253 with 18 homers, 31 doubles, 76 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 2003. A main concern is that he is tremendously strikeout prone, going down on strikes a total of 468 times over the past three seasons.

The Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres are also interested. It's worth noting though that Cameron lives in Atlanta and has mentioned a desire to play for an East Coast team.

"His defense is the thing that really stands out, one of the main reasons that he's a good fit here," Duquette continued to the Associated Press. He also added that he expected the centerfielder to make a decision within the next few days.

Also from New Orleans:
- According to a story in the New York Post, Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez told the Boston Herald that if he doesn't receive a contract extension by Opening Day 2004, he's eyeing the Mets in 2005.

"I've pitched well, really well, in New York all-time, in Shea Stadium," Martinez told the paper, "so I always have that team in mind."

- The Toronto Blue Jays finalized a deal with pitcher Miguel Batista on Friday morning, inking the right-handed starter to a three-year, $13.1-million contract. The Mets weren't interested in giving him the third year that he was requiring.

- Despite not making an offer, there's been some speculation of interest in Reggie Sanders to fill the vacancy in the right. According the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers have offered the thirty-six-year-old a two-year contract. The paper reports that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski has asked for a "yes" or a "no" from Sanders within the next few days.

You can e-mail baseball analyst Christopher Guy at CGGuy86@Yahoo.com


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