http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qst ... FlZUVFeXk2
Although reeling from the news that Vladimir Guerrero was in and out of their grasp in just 24 hours, apparently on his way to Anaheim, the Mets already are mulling their next target - Greg Maddux. Members of the organization believe Fred Wilpon could be convinced to use the $10 million to $11 million that was ticketed for Guerrero on Maddux.
Indeed, there were two lessons to be gleaned from the failed courtship of Guerrero. First, the Mets were blatantly used by agents Arn Tellem and Fern Cuza to secure a better offer from the Angels, who will announce today signing Guerrero to a five-year, $70 million contract. And second, the Guerrero-to-Shea fantasy, however short-lived, opened the Mets' eyes to the notion that they're one superstar away from becoming a 90-win team.
One major league official indicated late Saturday night the Mets would be in touch with Scott Boras, Maddux's agent, to measure his interest in playing in New York. The future Hall of Famer, although clearly past his Cy Young Award prime, "probably has one or two good years left" and would fit at the front of the Mets' rotation. After not being offered arbitration by the Braves, Maddux has been spurned by the Padres and Cardinals this winter. In theory, the Mets have a chance.
They thought they had a similar hope with Guerrero - only to discover from the right fielder's agents that a "mystery" team - which they later learned was the Angels — had entered the bidding Thursday night. The Mets admitted they were perplexed by Tellem's tactics, considering the agent had solicited an offer from them only 24 hours earlier.
Most disturbing to the Mets is that they were never given a counter-proposal from Guerrero's agents, and were never given the chance to fatten their initial offer.
No one at Shea has forgotten that Tellem used a similar tactic a year ago, soliciting an offer for Hideki Matsui from the Mets before the Japanese outfielder signed with the Yankees. Wilpon and GM Jim Duquette have every right to feel they'd been played for suckers. But Duquette said he had no regrets about the Mets' offer, worth up to $72 million over five years with incentives.
In retrospect, the Mets might've improved their chances by guaranteeing all five years, but members of the front office now say such a move would've been pointless. Guerrero wasn't coming to New York, no matter what. If so, the Mets emerged from this incident bruised and disappointed, but not embarrassed.
Without Guerrero, the Mets have completed a respectable, although not breathtaking, off-season rebuilding. Still, as one executive said the other day, "with Vlad, we go to 90 wins just like that."
Of course, there's no guarantee Wilpon has any further appetite to spend, even if he's one superstar from playoff contention. With the payroll already at $80 million, Wilpon might just as well be glad Guerrero chose the Angels, at least if the owner's intention is to save money.
But Wilpon no longer can pretend he's broke. Met employees now know there's a "special player" fund hidden in the owner's financial empire. That's why there's internal pressure to begin chasing Maddux. The Mets' off-season machinery may not be unplugged just yet
o boy .. another agin vet .. i really hope hes learned!!