Possible Deadline Deals

As the trade deadline approaches, the Mets have stormed back into contention, winning 10 of their last 15 and moving 4.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL Wildcard. Two weeks ago Phillips said that the two weeks leading up to the deadline would signify to him whether to be a buyer or seller in the trade market, that the team's play would dictate his course of action.

His options were, in the event of a losing two weeks, a club dismantling fire sale in which he would trade off such stars as Roberto Alomar and Al Leiter for younger, cheaper talent, while looking to build for the future. Winning ways would put his team back on the map and provoke him to add expensive talent to make a playoff push. This drastic turnaround has cemented in Mets' GM Steve Phillips mind that his $102 million ball club is a contender, not a pretender, and has forced him to look into adding talent to his team.

With the trading deadline approaching in a matter of hours, there are rumors abound about different players going different places. One rumor that had Al Leiter being sent to either St. Louis or Seattle was squashed Wednesday after he signed an extension with the Mets, a 2 year, 18 million dollar deal.

Another deal that is being discussed is a Jeromy Burnitz for Bobby Higginson swap with Detroit. While it may seem like a steal for the Mets at first, as Burnitz has struggled all season with a .207 and only 10 homeruns, the contracts must be compared. While Burnitz and Higginson make the same amount of money, $8.5 million this season and will again take home the same sum in 2003, $11.5 million, Burnitz's bad contract ends there, while Higginson is signed for two more years. While Higginson is two years younger than Jeromy, his age does not make up for the two years extra years on his deal.

One problem Steve Phillips has had in his tenure as Mets GM was his continuous string of bad contracts. He traded Todd Zeile's bad contract for Burnitz's this winter, but Zeile makes less money and his deal is over at the end of the season, while Burnitz will be making $11.5 million to hit .210. Phillips should just let Burnitz's deal run out, and then replace him in right field with a minor leaguer (possibly Prentice Redman of Double-A Binghamton and eventually Alhaji Turay of Single-A Brooklyn). Verdict: No go.

A deal that was discussed in Sunday's NY Post is a deal that would send either Shawn Estes or Jeff D'Amico to the Giants in return for Livan Hernandez. While the Giants prefer to reacquire Estes, they may accept D'Amico.

Livan Hernandez, while an inning eater, has become less and less effective as the years have gone on. He has a 4.36 ERA this year, and has lost a lot of pop on his fast ball, pushing it to 92 MPH max, but it usually clocks in at 87 MPH. He could rejuvenate his career with the Mets, but he isn't a very special pitcher at all.

If the Mets can trade D'Amico in the deal, it is a good one, if only because Hernandez eats innings and is his best when the pressure is on (5-0 career post-season record, NLCS and WS MVP in 1997). With D'Amico, you have a brittle arm who has never proven he can stay healthy. He doesn't throw hard either, and when his breaking stuff isn't on, he is very hittable.

If the deal involves Estes, I'd be more wary to do it. Estes has had 2 quality starts in a row and has shown flashes of brilliance this season for the Mets. He has been great in the past and, under the tutelage of Al Leiter, can possibly reach his great potential. He may even take the same path as Leiter, who blossomed and made us of all his promise later in his career. Despite the fact that Estes is still a question mark, he can't be any worse than Hernandez, and has a much higher ceiling. So, if it is Estes that the Giants demand, the Mets should not do this deal.



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