The Plan In Action (Part 1)

Hours after the Mets' exit from the National League Championship Series became finality, the sun came up over New York City once again, even though some fans might not have felt like it would.

In the executive offices of Shea Stadium, the Mets had been planning for the event for some time. No matter how far the team went into the playoffs, or even if they had won the third World Series title in franchise history, eventually it would become time to turn the page.

So as general manager Omar Minaya started his morning in a usual routine, sipping a steaming cup of coffee and leafing through a tabloid newspaper, Minaya did something different. He turned the calendar ahead to 2007, the season that the Mets will – to listen to Minaya speak – win the World Series.

But not before reflecting on the team's seven-game series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was an NLCS filled with heroic contributions from unlikely players — a series in which injuries finally caught up to a deep Mets club that had done a fine job finding replacements for vital contributors such as Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd and Duaner Sanchez and an event when finally, a National League pitching staff found a way to quiet New York's potent lineup … not completely, perhaps, but just enough so the Cardinals could squeak by and ultimately take the Detroit Tigers in five games.

"It's one of those that stays with you," Minaya said Oct. 20, the day after the Mets' season officially ended. "You wish you were playing. That's the way this game is, and this industry. It's a job that when you win, you feel great, and when you lose, you feel some emotional drain.

"Only one team can win the National League Championship, and the St. Louis Cardinals are the ones who won. You feel it, but you have to move on." So Minaya did, settling with his staff into what he calls "planning mode."

Truth be told, it wasn't that difficult a transition. The Mets' front office prepared for 2007 as the postseason progressed, with executives in Minaya's inner circle charting the team's priorities for the winter and the following season.

Minaya said he keeps the details of such items close to the vest, but circulating somewhere within his offices and his mind, the GM has a certain wish-list.

Not all of the Mets' free agents -- which include position players Cliff Floyd, Jose Valentin and Chris Woodward, as well as pitchers Chad Bradford, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Guillermo Mota, Darren Oliver and Steve Trachsel -- will be back.

It will be up to Minaya to help decide which players will return, and with whom to replace those who leave. The Mets quickly moved to contact the agents for Bradford and El Duque as the free agency period began, outlining some priorities.

"I do believe we have to address certain issues," Minaya said. "We do have a nucleus and we've signed certain guys as a core. I think we have some challenges in front of us. ... I think it's fair to say today we know what we want."

A major piece involves left-hander Tom Glavine, who has a mutual contract option with the Mets for the 2007 season. Glavine has entertained the idea of returning home to pitch for the Atlanta Braves (if they want him) near his Alpharetta, Ga. residence, but said there are also a lot of reasons he would like to stay for one more year in New York.

"We're respecting that part of the process [is] for him to get with his family and get back with us and find out which way he wants to go," Minaya said in early November.

Glavine, who will enter next season 10 wins shy of 300, had his contract restructured earlier this season to include a $7.5 million player option and a $14 million team option.

"I would hope that we would sign Glavine back," Mets manager Willie Randolph said in late October.

"I think that he's very important to our club. He had a nice year for me, he's one of the real leaders on my club, and … I think he's very important as far as the leadership of our staff, especially if you're not going to have someone like a Pedro [Martinez] until later on with some of the young players who might step in and maybe take over a spot in the rotation."

...


Part 2 of this article will be published at InsidePitchMagazine.com on Thursday, Nov. 9.

This article is a sneak preview of the expanded Mets content to be available in Inside Pitch's 64-page 2006 commemorative issue, set to be delivered to subscribers in late November.



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