NY Sports Day

The Race Is Wide Open In Indianapolis

Last year out in Sin City, the Mets knew what they wanted and in old Las Vegas style, they lined up the closers like a cattle call for showgirls.

But this year is different, with so many holes to fill, so the Mets, the field is wide open for the Amazin’s in Indianapolis, just like the race the city entertains every Memorial Day Weekend.

The Mets have a lot of holes to fill, after a 92-loss season. So this year, much maligned GM Omar Minaya has a handful to fill holes in left field, catcher, the rotation, and the bullpen.

So it stands to reason that the rumors were flying yesterday with a Philadelphia website reporting the Mets acquired former nemesis Pay Burrell for Luis Castillo and Detroit pitcher Edwin Jackson also coming to Queens for an unidentified player. Neither was true.

What we do know is that the Mets are trying to make a trade or two in Indy, forcing their way to improve the team even with a meager $25 million to spend on free agents.

“I don’t want to say I’m that close,” Minaya said to reporters in Indianapolis. “But closer than we were. I’m getting either an idea that we’re going to get it done or not get it done. Put it this way – I’m further along today than I was [Sunday] night.”

It looks like he is trying to trade Castillo, especially with the team looking at free agent second baseman Adam Kennedy. And this morning the NY Post is reporting Minaya is talking to Milwaukee about a John Maine for Corey Hart swap. (And no, Minaya was not seen wearing his sunglasses at night.)

Yet, that’s the insanity of the Winter Meetings, especially this season with the direct line to the event through programs like Twitter. In the past when a reporter would get a rumor, he or she would have some time to research it, but now once said it’s just a few taps on the Blackberry away from becoming public.

So expect the rumors to fly over the next three days, as the Mets desperately try to fill in their holes. With the Mets shopping Castillo, every bad contract out there will be rumored coming to New York, even if the fit isn’t there, while Minaya looks for bargains to fill his holes.

Oh, he will kick the tires on free agents as well. If the price is right for Bengie Molina, then he will be signed – look for a Castillo like 2-year, $12 million contract there – and of course, Minaya will look at John Lackey, although he may be out of the team’s price range.

Yet, Lackey’s price may come down and if a few smart trades do occur, then Minaya may have the money for a high price ticket like the Angels erstwhile ace. And if that happens, then the Mets may be able to salvage a very bumpy 2009.

One thing is for certain though – at these Winter Meetings, the race has just started.

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