Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Finding a starting pitcher tops Minaya's to-do list

Mets general manager Omar Minaya, at the Citi Field news conference Tuesday to introduce Jason Bay, said, "If Opening Day were tomorrow, there's no doubt in my mind we can be a playoff contender."

One look at your home heating bill will tell you Opening Day is not tomorrow. The Mets remain an unfinished product and will likely make some more additions before spring training opens in five weeks.

They may not be the splashiest moves, but if the Mets can execute their current plan, it should get them closer to true playoff contender status.

The wish list goes like this: another starting pitcher, a No. 1 catcher, maybe a first baseman, a lefty for the bullpen and some bench help, according to a baseball executive familiar with the Mets' thinking.

The Mets are confident they can land one more starting pitcher from the free-agent group that includes Joel Piñeiro, Jon Garland and Doug Davis. They are looking for an innings-eater and are comfortable waiting for a pitcher's salary demands to fall back to what they want to pay.

They could also take a chance on a rehabbing hurler such as Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard or Chien-Ming Wang, but it's more likely they would go with a sure thing, especially since Johan Santana, Oliver Perez and John Maine are all coming off injuries.

At catcher, nothing has changed since the Mets first engaged free agent Bengie Molina. They are at one year and he is at three. The Mets don't seem inclined to give Molina even two guaranteed years. Other options include Rod Barajas and Yorvit Torrealba; of that trio, only Molina is a plus at the plate. The 35-year-old had 20 home runs and 80 RBIs for the Giants last season.

Minaya did mention catchers Omir Santos and Josh Thole, and new additions Henry Blanco and Chris Coste, but he'd like to upgrade. Chances are he will when Molina agrees to one year plus an option.

Carlos Delgado has begun to play winter ball, and the Mets are interested. Minaya said he isn't sure if he is going to see Delgado personally, but he did praise his power production.

The Mets could look to bring Delgado back on a cheap, one-year deal. That would be bad news for Daniel Murphy, the incumbent first baseman. The Mets have also spoken with the agent for Adam LaRoche; whatever they do at first is with an eye toward leaving the job open in 2011 for top prospect Ike Davis.

"I'm really comfortable with Daniel Murphy," Minaya said, "and I'm really excited with Ike Davis, what he did in the Arizona Fall League. We are going to look at Delgado, but I feel very comfortable if we have to go with Daniel Murphy also."

Finally, the Mets would love to unload Luis Castillo and sign Orlando Hudson for second base. Minaya laughed off a Twitter report that he was talking to the Red Sox about a Castillo-Mike Lowell swap.

"Rumors," Minaya said. "It's January hot stove rumors. That's all that is."

Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at

New York Sports