November 09, 2006

Willis talk could be heating up

Tom Singer at, writes about the Mets and the Marlins in the Willis talks:

Approaching last July's non-waiver trading deadline with a gaping NL East lead and an aching starting rotation, the New York Mets enthusiastically inquired into the availability of Dontrelle Willis.

At that time, general manager Omar Minaya was turned off by what the Marlins sought in return for the mercurial left-hander. Now that another trading season is upon us, there is speculation that the D-Train-to-7-Train talks may be warming up again.

Why? What have the Mets learned since July 31?

a. That they still have the same needs. Then, Pedro Martinez was hobbled with hip and calf woes. Now, Pedro is recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

b. That they have other high-profile chase options, such as free agent Barry Zito or Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose rights-winning club will be identified next Tuesday.

c. That Willis, at 24 four years and 613 innings younger than Zito, may be worth another pursuit.

d. Most significantly, that some of the names raised 3 1/2 months ago by Florida may not be so untouchable after all. Like Lastings Milledge, who had a checkered big-league baptismal, or right-hander Brian Bannister, who had such a severe strain to his right hamstring that he missed nearly four months.

That the Mets need starting pitching to feel comfortable about defending their division title is obvious. Getting it out of Florida will not be easy. The Marlins hold all the cards in this deal, since Willis is still two-plus years removed from free agency.

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