Notes & Quotes: Molina on center stage

Mets fans should keep a close eye on the American League Championship Series, if only because they may be catching a glimpse of their next catcher.

Los Angeles Angels backstop Bengie Molina has been mentioned numerous times as a possible candidate to take over the starting catching job from Mike Piazza.

Though he was banged and beaten during the ALDS against the Yankees, Molina hasn't yielded playing time, something that's sure to be catching the Mets' eyes.

"I've heard some pretty strong rumors that (the Mets) are trying to do something good," Molina told reporters in New York earlier this week. "We'll just have to wait and see after the whole thing is over here."

Molina was 1-for-4 in the Angels' Game 1 victory on Tuesday evening. San Diego Padres catcher Ramon Hernandez is considered a frontrunner with Molina to draw interest from the Mets.

  • Jim Duquette will be at the top of the Philadelphia Phillies' wishlist as the club searches for a replacement general manager, the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch reports.

    The Phillies officially said goodbye to longtime GM Ed Wade Monday, and it has been no secret Duquette is hoping to return to a general manager position. He served as the Mets' interim GM, and then their official GM, before being yanked from the role in favor of Omar Minaya after the 2004 season.

    Duquette has also been mntioned in connection with general manager positions for the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

  • A Binghamton Mets campaign that fostered the development of numerous top prospects wasn't enough to avoid a last-place finish in the Eastern League's Northern Division, costing manager Jack Lind his job.

    The Mets announced shortly after the season that Lind, 59, would not be offered a contract extension for 2006. Pitching coach Blaine Beatty, briefly a Met in 1989 and 1991, was also let go.

    An interesting cross-section of Mets prospects spent time in Binghamton this season, including organizational player of the year Mike Jacobs, who won Eastern League MVP honors by hitting .321 with 25 homers and 95 RBI before leaving Double-A for the majors.

    22-year-old switch-hitter Anderson Hernandez impressed with a solid stroke, batting .326 before promotion to Triple-A. The second wave of the B-Mets' offense included top prospect Lastings Milledge and first baseman Brett Harper, who hit 16 homers in 227 at-bats. The club finished the year leading the league in hitting with a .270 average.

    Binghamton's pitching was paced by the duo of Brian Bannister and Yusmeiro Petit, with both pitchers earning their first tastes of Triple-A after their good work for the B-Mets.

    Bannister, 24, went 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA in 18 starts and Petit, 20, was 9-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 21 starts, opening even more eyes and leaving open the possibility of big-league debuts in 2006.

    The rest of Binghamton's staff was largely unimpressive. The B-Mets used 13 different starting pitchers and finished next-to-last in the Eastern League with a 4.40 ERA, allowing 134 home runs. The B-Mets also lost Tim Hamulack to promotion and watched arm injuries befall pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Deaton and Ken Chenard.

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