02/03/09 10:08 PM EST
Minaya: No more big moves, no Manny
GM plans to head to Spring Training with the roster as is
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
Middle-of-the-rotation starter? Check. Defensive-minded middle infielder? Check. Closer and setup man? Check and check.
Future Hall of Fame left fielder? Not quite.
"There aren't going to be any more big moves," Minaya said, brushing aside any last thoughts of Manny Ramirez ending up as a Met. "We're going to go to Spring Training with this team."
And so Spring Training approaches, less than two weeks away, with Ramirez -- widely regarded as the biggest impact player available on the free-agent market -- still unsigned.
The Mets, despite their insistence to the contrary, were thought to be in the running for Ramirez's services throughout much of this winter. And while Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, was mum on the matter at a Tuesday news conference for Oliver Perez, both Minaya and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said that their team, essentially, is set.
Even Boras, without ruling out a deal to bring Ramirez to the Mets, said that the two sides had not had much discussion.
"You're always going to get the call, because it's just good business to 'walk the dog' in each situation," Boras said. "Those calls often bring about further discussion, and sometimes they don't. I think the thing about the Mets is that the bullpen and starting pitching is what they felt they had to address. And the focus of our discussions had been in those areas for the last five or six weeks. Now that that's completed, as to where they go and what they do, we're certainly open to the discussions."
Wilpon's initial estimate pegged his team's payroll at somewhere between $143 million and $145 million, a figure similar to that of the Mets a year ago. And that, to him, is enough.
"Omar went into the offseason with plans to do certain things," Wilpon said. "And I think we, as ownership, have given him the tools to go do that."
Boras wouldn't comment on his ongoing negotiations with the Dodgers, who seem by far the most likely to land Ramirez. But he did run down his list of reasons why any team might consider signing him. Increased attendance figures, merchandising dollars and postseason expectations, according to Boras, are part of his allure, not to mention part of Boras' sales pitch.
The agent, in short, implied that the benefits of signing Ramirez are so substantial that he's not worried over his client's current status.
"This is what I call a methodical market," Boras said. "With Oliver, with [Mark] Teixeira, with Derek Lowe, these players ended up with market contracts. But it's been something where there's been a greater examination and focus by the teams -- a little more patience before they acted."
The Mets exercised a bit of that, waiting until late in the offseason to acquire their chosen starter, Perez. They waited until mid-December to acquire their two new relievers, Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, and they waited until mid-January to add a relatively minor part, backup infielder Alex Cora.
But with all those pieces now in place, the Mets seem content to return to action with an offense almost identical to the one that ranked second in the National League last season, with 799 runs.
Their left-field solution is a platoon of the right-handed Fernando Tatis and the left-handed Daniel Murphy, a mix that proved more than adequate down the stretch last season. No, neither Tatis nor Murphy is similar to Ramirez, nor do they have the potential to come particularly close to his expected production. But the Mets are just fine with that.
"We like our team," Minaya said. "I'm ready to go with this team. We've focused, we've put priorities in place and we've addressed those priorities. Our team today is better than it was at the end of last year."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.