Monday, June 16, 2008

Brian Fuentes?

The New York Mets are 33-35. The players on the major league roster are injured, under-performing or both. The minor league system is a mess, and nowhere is that more obvious than at Triple-A New Orleans, which boasts an embarrasingly unhelpful roster.

The manager is teetering on the brink of losing his job. The general manager has been hearing plenty of calls for his own head lately and be about to fire the manager and a few coaches as a way to appease the lions. The owner sits and fiddles while Mets Nation burns, content to dream dreams about a team that moved 50 years ago and play nice with the commissioner's office so that his shrine to that long-dead team can host an All-Star Game some day. The owner's son sits around the office Daddy gave him and takes up space, waiting for the next inopportune moment to meddle in the Mets' on-field affairs.

Yes, it is a sad state of affairs for this franchise, and the short success cycle that began in 2005 appears to be rapidly drawing to a close. Why, then, are there discussions about the Mets obtaining a 32-year-old lefthanded reliever who will hit the free agent market at the end of the year?

Don't get me wrong - I love Brian Fuentes, and he's one of the very few relievers in baseball I would actually commit a two- or three-year contract to in the off-season. He is a late bloomer that has survived and thrived pitching in Colorado for years, and would make a terrific set-up man or closer for just about any team in baseball.

So I can appreciate the Mets' interest in Fuentes, but I can't imagine how or why they plan to acquire him, as both the New York Daily News and Denver Post have reported in the last week. If the Rockies are dumping Fuentes with an eye for the future, I can't imagine what would be left in the Mets' farm system that would be of interest. The Mets probably aren't willing to put together a challenge trade for Fuentes, but even if there's a match on the major league roster, I'm struggling to see who that would be. The Rockies turned down an Aaron Heilman for Fuentes offer last winter, according to the Denver newspaper, so it's not like that's going to happen. (Just beating you to the punch, Tim!)

Perhaps the bigger question would be why, with the team struggling to reach .500 and already relying on far too many guys on the wrong side of 30, would the Mets be looking to pick up Fuentes in his walk year? Do they really think that a left-handed set-up man is the final piece to the playoff puzzle? Does Omar Minaya really think he has the prospects to acquire someone like Fuentes?

I'm sure if the Mets offered Fernando Martinez or Jon Niese, the Rockies would make the deal and run laughing all the way to home. Of course, the fan base would officially revolt and I would immediately start writing about the Dodgers. Otherwise, this barren farm system doesn't have anything Colorado would want for a top reliever like Fuentes, so from this perspective it seems to be an exercise in star-gazing for the Mets to be looking at acquiring his services.

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