Matthew Cerrone, author of MetsBlog.com, believes the race for free agent Barry Zito will come down to a sixth season. Do the Mets have what it takes, or are the Phillies in the clear?
We’re overdue for a peek at the Mets and their pursuit of Barry Zito. MetsBlog.com is my only daily non-Phillies read, and I know Cerrone checks in from time to time. It’s a superb site if you haven’t visited; it's inked on the right sidebar.
I’ve been following the Zito saga with trepidation, as the outcome has serious implications for the Phils. I have little desire to watch Zito face Ryan Howard and Chase Utley four or five times a season, for the next six seasons.
The Phillies were never in play for the free agent left-hander, but his situation could become one of the key offseason developments. With that in mind, it's probably time to turn our attention outward, rather than debate whether Chris Coste’s roster spot will be lost to a Rule 5 pick (it might).
If signed, Zito has one purpose: Steamroll the NL East and take care of unfinished business in the playoffs (technically two purposes). On Metsblog, they’re tracking his every move like paparazzi. The Mets, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, and as some have suggested, the Yankees, are reportedly in the hunt for the former Cy Young winner. This is more competition than expected. Frankly, I thought the Mets would have it wrapped up by now.
According to multiple reports, the Yankees are open to trading Randy Johnson, who is entering the final year of a three-year, $48 million contract. Several New York papers are suggesting the Yankees are making him available so they can pursue Zito, but I tend to think the spot could easily be reserved for Roger Clemens.
Either way, you can sense the fear on MetsBlog. Their lineup is complete, but the rotation is not. An offseason without Zito would be viewed as a failure, even though they’re still in the driver’s seat for the division ... but that could be it.
Texas has been their primary hot stove threat for Zito, but I don’t see a match, and neither does Cerrone. He passes word that the Rangers may prefer Mark Mulder "who, when coupled up with their recent acquisition of Brandon McCarthy, would allow them to officially pass on Zito."
Cerrone perceptively sums up the situation this way: The race for Zito may be more like a race to a six-year deal.
"… as a Mets fan, i still fear the Giants, since they are a national league team near zito’s home…the thing is, as i wrote on friday, it is pretty obvious that the Mets want zito and that he wants the Mets…with the Rangers pulling back a bit, be it realistically, or simply in confidence, this certainly puts the Mets, and Giants, though, in a better position…"