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The State of the Union address and the Mets, and hunches on John Smoltz and Johnny Damon

Yes, I watched it, and my goodness, do I not want to get into a political debate. But what stood out to me was Barack Obama's plea to forego the usual politics and deploy "common sense."

It made me think of the Mets, because it seems as though they so often lack common sense in their operations.

Yes, in individual moves like re-signing Alex Cora and re-acquiring Gary Matthews, Jr. But also the general way they operate. Like the two-party system at its worst, they seem to create false choices. They appear to teeter from one extreme - working too quickly - to the other, working too slowly.

In the past, they have overvalued players like Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, moving too aggressively - and bidding too high - to acquire them. It has cost them, dearly.

Now? As we've discussed, this was the wrong winter to be looking for starting pitching. But the Mets clearly needed at least one established arm. They had to make sure they picked up someone, even if it meant overpaying by a touch.

Instead, the Mets have been the opposite of aggressive this winter. It's OK to be deliberate _ shoot, the Mets' deliberation paid off in a huge way two years ago, when they acquired Johan Santana _ but there's got to be an endgame with such a plan.

Now, that endgame has been reduced to John Smoltz (high upside, high health risk), Jarrod Washburn (low upside, low health risk) and...what? I don't see a trade coming.

Maybe we're underestimating what the Mets have. As Sam Page wrote, we know that Santana, Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine  - and Jon Niese, too - have upsides.

But given a) the Mets' financial resources, b) that this market turned out to be largely reasonable for starting pitchers and c) the urgency of the Mets to turn their fortunes around, they should've found someone to pair with Jason Bay as shiny new acquisitions.

Going too fast is definitely not common sense. But neither is going too slow.

--Now, having written all of that, my hunch - at this moment, subject to change, I want credit if it happens and no blame if it doesn't happen - is that the Mets and Smoltz will wind up getting together.

Smoltz's first choice, it's evident, is to return to the Cardinals, yet the feeling doesn't appear to be mutual. There doesn't appear to be a great deal of interest remaining in Smoltz, particularly in him to be a starter. The Mets visit Atlanta, where Smoltz lives, three times a year, and New York is close enough for him to fly home on off days.

And Smoltz does have a friendship with Jeff Francoeur, as David Waldstein reported.

Furthermore, Smoltz is probably confident enough in his abilities that he thinks he can help the Mets get to the playoffs, at which point he can try to get back his "most wins in the postseason" record back from Andy Pettitte.

--As for Johnny Damon, I don't think he'll wind up in Oakland. I think he'd rather a) play for a team closer to his Orlando home, or b) play for a team in better shape to contend, or ideally both.

The Rays would fit both qualifications, of course. I think, though, there's still another team in the mix. Trying to figure out which team it is. It's not the Mets.

Wally Matthews wrote that the Yankees actually have a budget. I know we all get caught up in the "Why do the Yankees need a budget?" talk. But as we've addressed here previously, for the most part, Brian Cashman has tried to operate with some logic.

Highly-financed logic, no doubt, but logic. And Cashman, this winter, valued a centerfielder (Curtis Granderson) and starting pitcher (Javier Vazquez) over Damon. I won't argue with that logic.





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