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Jose Contreras a met?

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  • Jose Contreras a met?

    January 26, 2006 -- OMAR Minaya is not done. He scans the Mets landscape and sees at least two more trades he is aching to complete and, believe it or not, neither has anything to do with Manny Ramirez.
    The Mets GM remains committed to relocating Kaz Matsui, recognizing spring training may be the last, best shot to unload the disappointing infielder. More intriguing, however, is that after removing depth from the bottom of the rotation by dealing Jae Seo and Kris Benson earlier this month, Minaya has prioritized finding a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with Pedro Martinez.

    Minaya has confided to some folks that finding that starter between now and the July 31 trade deadline is integral to the Mets transforming from playoff threats to championship contenders. As is his wont, Minaya plans to be aggressive in pursuit, with a willingness to act well before July. Remember, as Expos GM in 2003, Minaya acted swiftly by obtaining Indians ace Bartolo Colon on June 27. It should be noted that deal ultimately favored Cleveland, which acquired Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee.

    The rotation name who will be most associated with the Mets, and any contender eyeing elite rotation help, is Oakland's Barry Zito. But Minaya likes Jose Contreras, as well, and don't discount the possibility of Minaya working to pry Contreras from the White Sox.

    For now, Oakland GM Billy Beane is telling suitors he is not interested in dealing Zito. But Zito is a free agent after the season, the A's are unlikely to be able to retain him, and Beane has shown a willingness to unload key players during the season even while his team is in contention.

    Like Zito, Contreras is entering his walk year and plays for a GM, Kenny Williams, with as much of a wheeler-dealer gene as Beane or Minaya. The White Sox recently traded for Javier Vazquez (whom Minaya tried to obtain, as well) and re-signed potential free agent Jon Garland long-term. Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia also are locked up through next year. The quartet of Garland, Vazquez, Buehrle and Garcia are due $40 million in 2007, so the White Sox may not be budgeted to add at least another $10 million for Contreras, especially because they have a ready-now piece, well-regarded prospect Brandon McCarthy.

    The Mets would be positioned to reverse the Yankees' trend of obtaining players with crosstown pedigree. Contreras stumbled for the Yanks before being dealt to the White Sox at the 2004 trade deadline. Last year, with his family having grown comfortable after defecting from Cuba, and with countryman and pal Orlando Hernandez on the same staff, Contreras went 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA in the second half. He then answered questions about withstanding pressure by going 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in the postseason as the White Sox won it all.
    Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.

    -Lou Brock-

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