The Plan In Action (Part 2)

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. (Continued from previous story)

The Mets' plans were altered somewhat by the revelation that free-agent pitcher Mota, who finished the year with New York, will serve a 50-game suspension beginning next season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Minaya said the Mets were happy with what Mota -- who posted a 1.00 ERA in 18 regular-season appearances with New York -- did down the stretch following an August acquisition from the Indians. But the latest news could derail his return.

"You have to step back, reassess what your goals were and how you were going to put the team together," Minaya said in early November. "We thought [Mota] did a good job for us. He was definitely under consideration for us as a potential guy going into next year, but now we have to reassess with the information we've got."

One of Minaya's top priorities is to sit down with the representatives for Randolph and discuss a contract extension, a reward after the second-year skipper took the Mets within one win of their first World Series since 2000.

"I told Willie that at the end of the year, we are definitely going to review his contract situation," Minaya said. "I plan on sitting down with Willie. ... It's fair to say we would like to sit down with him and hopefully address his contract this winter, rather than have him go out managing on the last year of his contract."

Randolph said an extension would be a nice gesture for a job well done, but it wouldn't necessarily be a necessity as 2007 approaches.

"I would love to be the leader of this ballclub for a long time, whatever that means. I'm just excited about the progress we've made moving forward," Randolph said. "Obviously when I came here last year, I had an idea, a philosophy that I tried to implement how I wanted the team to play, and we've come together a lot sooner than I thought we would, so that's exciting for me.

"When you start something, you want to be able to finish it in some way, and I still feel like we could be better. I would love to be a part of it. But I'm just a part of it."

Minaya said he also expects to invite all of Randolph's coaching staff back for 2007, although at least one member may be departing.

Highly-regarded third base coach Manny Acta was granted permission to interview a number of managerial vacancies in the majors, including the Diamondbacks, Giants, Nationals and Athletics, though it was uncertain at press time if Acta would land his first big-league managing job.

As far as players and potential free agents go, Minaya said the Mets would not make decisions based upon keeping their payroll low, but stressed that they would be financially responsible in the marketplace.

"We're going to be making decisions based upon who is the best guy who gives us an opportunity to win," Minaya said.

In charting a blueprint of the 2006 Mets, Minaya used numbers of pitchers as a primary foundation, and the mindset paid off.

Not only was the team's bullpen a huge strength of the club and a reason why it was able to weather a season-ending injury to top setup man Sanchez, but the Mets had plenty of choices to take the ball in the first inning as well -- 13 different pitchers started a game for New York in 2006.

Minaya believes that there is strength in numbers, and even though the Mets are months away from Florida sunshine and Spring Training, their pitching picture appears bright.

Young hurlers such as John Maine and Oliver Perez made significant contributions in the postseason, even though both were considered throw-ins to the respective trades that brought them to New York.

Likewise, the Mets are enamored with other pitching prospects that appeared this season, like Brian Bannister, Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey, but Minaya expects to add even more capable arms to the team's roster before February.

"I'm of the belief that you've got to have 10 to 12 to 14 [pitchers]," Minaya said. "As we put the team together for next year, we'll look at numbers as far as volume, because injuries do happen."

Despite 97 victories (plus six more in the playoffs) and a National League East title, Minaya said the Mets are hungry for more -- to the point that he refuses to qualify 2006 as a successful season.

It was a memorable and exciting one, and a step forward, Minaya said, just as 2005 – Randolph's first year at the helm and the beginning of a culture change in Queens – represented a major boost over Art Howe's frustrating and sleepy 2004 campaign.

The winter months will have Shea's inner gears churning toward the Mets' true goals.

"To me, a successful season is winning the World Series," Minaya said. "Anything that's not winning the World Series is, to me, not what I consider a successful season. Those are the standards we adhere to here. If you tell me you think the season made some progress, I think we made progress. But a successful season is winning the World Series."


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