The buzz, it seemed, was everywhere else but Citi Field yesterday.
While the Braves and the Phillies, the top two teams in the National League East, have improved their rosters and the Yankees have stockpiled depth for their lineup, bullpen and bench, Mets general manager Omar Minaya came close to making a deal - "especially in that last half-hour" - but could not pull the trigger before yesterday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trading deadline.
There were no difference-making trades to announce in Flushing - nothing that could rival the news that Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood were coming to the Bronx, or that Roy Oswalt is pitching for Philadelphia.
But there still is time for the Mets, Minaya said.
"Let's just remember that we can still make trades tomorrow, we can still make trades after the trading deadline," he told reporters a couple of hours after the deadline. After July 31, however, players must go through the waiver process and trades can be blocked by teams that have worse records than the acquiring team.
"And the fact that other teams made moves in the division, that's fine,'' Minaya added. "But I still believe that we have a good team and I still believe that with the team we have here, we're still going to continue to win some games."
Citing the organization's unwillingness to part with youngsters Ike Davis and Jonathon Niese, who have drawn heavy interest from opposing teams, Minaya said he still has yet to find the right fit for his team.
"The good thing we found out about this process is that different organizations liked the young prospects that we have," he said. "But you have to be careful giving up blue-chip prospects."
Perhaps for that reason, big- name pitchers such as Cliff Lee, Oswalt, Dan Haren and Ted Lilly slipped through the Mets' grasp. But that's OK, Minaya said. "Did we talk to some of those clubs about those guys? Yes, we have," he said.
Minaya said there still is a possibility that the Mets, who entered yesterday's games trailing division-leading Atlanta by 7½ games, will acquire a fifth starter, allowing Hisanori Takahashi to return to the bullpen. He was adamant that the Mets' finances are not a roadblock.
As exciting as it might have been to see a new face or two in the clubhouse, Jeff Francoeur said he and his teammates are paying little attention to trade rumors.
"You hear all sorts of things," said the rightfielder, who might have been on the trading block before Jason Bay went on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion. "But I think as players, you try to get your mind out of it because we don't control it. It's up to them."
Minor-leaguers also could hold the key to a postseason push, Minaya said, referring to the success that Davis, Niese and Ruben Tejada have had.
"Every day as a general manager, you wake up with the idea of 'how can I upgrade my team?' " he said. "I would like to and I think opportunities will come . . . There will be guys getting through waivers. I guarantee you that."
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