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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Mets Give Jae Hook

Dennis Cunningham, the longtime Channel 2 movie critic, reviewed St. Elmo's Fire as such:

It stars seven of Hollywood's freshest young faces. And if you don't like those, we've got seven more for you.

This is pretty much how teams build bullpens. Certainly it's how ours does. Closers are generally etched in stone and everything else takes a pencil.

When we approached 2005 in spring training, who were we looking at for those pesky innings between Pedro (who was going to be so decrepit he wouldn't see the sixth) and Looper?

Bell, Koo, DeJean. Something like that.

Where were we by year's end?

Padilla, Heilman, Hernandez.

In between, there was…oh, I don't need to run through them the way Randolph and Peterson did. Suffice it to say we won 83 games with a dinged-up fireman and a relief corps that was more vamped than revamped.

This is why I applaud Omar's recent efforts to bring in dependable bullpen guys. Or guys who could be dependable. Or guys who have been dependable somewhere. Or guys who weren't here a year ago at this time.

Duaner Sanchez, Steve Schmoll, Chad Bradford (he'd love your support, but requests you keep it to yourself)…sure, why not? They could be pretty darn good more often than they're not, and that's really all you can ask of middle and setup men.

I agree, to a point, with a friend who shakes his head at Minaya's latest trade by noting “setup men are almost a dime a dozen and finding really effective ones is a crapshoot.” By definition, every pitcher who isn't a starter or a closer is a setup man or one who would like to be so as to get out of being the Maytag long man. So yes, they are plentiful. And, yes, it is a crapshoot, judging by the dice we kept rolling on Matthews, Takatsu, Aybar, Hamulack, Ring, Santiago, Graves and all of the above last year.

Then why not try to reduce the odds and show up to camp with some guys in whom you have some confidence? That's hardly what was done in '05, a season in which the six games between us and the Wild Card may have been a matter of securing a better bullpen sooner than later. Seeing as how at least one relief pitcher and usually more are used in 154 or so games annually, the dime-a-dozen, bring 'em in, move 'em out philosophy should not be our default position.

I don't understand the outdated thinking that shudders at trading starters for relievers, no matter the pitchers in question. Early next week will likely bring a recurrence of perennial handwringing at the exclusion of Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage from the Hall of Fame. Those who take relief pitching seriously will lower their voices and decry the shame of it all. The rest will blindly go about ignoring how important the sixth, seventh and eighth are and dismiss the significance of the men entrusted more often than not with securing their outs.

I liked Jae Seo. Not as much as other people and not nearly enough to adopt the colorful nickname another chum gave the Mets' GM in response to the trade that sent him and Hamulack to the Dodgers for Sanchez and Schmoll. I will not call him Omoron Minaya for this. Seo pitched us some real nice games in 2005, sort of like he did in 2003 and not at all like he didn't in 2004. In August, he was marvelous. In September, he was more than adequate.

But, boy, I just never felt comfortable with him out there on a going basis. Consider me as unwilling to adjust my worldview on Jae Seo as some are on relievers. He just didn't convince me he was a long-term proposition. He tends to teeter on the edge of oblivion in any given game and I sense he may have used up his rabbits in hats last year.

I wouldn't have rushed to trade him, but I don't think bolstering the bullpen is exactly giving him away. And let's remember that rosters aren't frozen on January 5. The general manager's desire is to do Omore. It may result in another setup type, like the long-discussed Danys Baez. This may be a piling up of chip after chip, and when the chips fall, we could wind up with Manny Ramirez. Or it could just be Seo & Hamulack for Sanchez & Schmoll and I could live with that.

Pedro, Glavine, Benson, Zambrano, Trachsel, perhaps Heilman. Seo is younger than all of them except Heilman and we don't know if Heilman is a starter (I liked him fine in the ninth when tried, but that ship has sailed). On the other hand, Seo had been bouncing around the Mets' system for eight seasons, was given to mound snits and has not shown a propensity for consistency. Youth isn't everything.

We still need a lefty in the pen and none of the new guys (acquired after and projected to pitch before Wagner) is that. And we're still shy a second baseman, even with the minor league contract proffered to Bret Boone. Guys get minor league contracts all winter long, so I'm not ready to recalculate the lineup's average age upward just yet. We haven't had much luck with erstwhile All-Star second-sackers. Bret Boone wouldn't be my first option. I doubt he'll be Willie's.

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