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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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Zito or Our Wits

It's not exactly the Christmas Eve news to suit anybody who said all they wanted under the tree was Barry Zito, but the Brewers have signed Jeff Suppan. Many years, insane money, OK pitcher who had a couple of good games when it counted.

This means for us, besides not having Jeff Suppan (and not having to contort myself to root for a guy I wanted no part of), that Barry Zito stands alone as the pitching prize on the market. Mark Mulder's still floating about, but word is he won't be ready for the season to start and he's not a New York or Rick Peterson guy.

So, what happens next? Do we throw our first five years of CitiBucks at Zito in hopes of luring him away from his lifelong dream of becoming a Texa$ Ranger? Or do we set a price, stand by it and let the chips fall where they may because even if he's twice the pitcher Suppan is, it will take more than twice Suppan's $42 mil over four years to secure him?

In Love Actually it was said that at Christmas you tell the truth. In that spirit, I have to be honest: I don't really want Barry Zito all that badly. Not for bankbreaking numbers and, in a touch of psychobabble, not on principle.

It has not so much to do with him as it does us and me. I don't really like us being the fans who expect our management to ante up above all others at this time of year just because we can. I don't want to sit in expectation that “we're the Mets, we buy who we want.” It was necessary to loosen the pursestrings in the previous two winters, necessary and wise given the players available and where we stood. But just paying and paying to outbid a joke like Tom Hicks because we're the big, bad team from New York? It doesn't rub me the right way. Maybe if I felt more confident in Zito's long-term prospects I'd jump on the “it's not my money” express, but that's secondary at the moment. I just don't like the Mets operating like…well, I'm not going to name names, but I'd just as soon we go after the guys we really and truly need.

I still trust our general manager to figure something out if we don't wind up with the main guy. I like the idea that Omar Minaya will think of something besides cash. And I like the New York Mets going with their young pitchers because that's what the New York Mets do. If we're sitting here in six months slapping our collective palms to our collective forehead because nobody can go five innings, well, I'm an idiot.

Besides, if he wanted to be here, he'd be here by now.

7 comments to Zito or Our Wits

  • Anonymous

    Amen to all that.
    Beltran, Pedro and Wagner are franchise players, the kind you build long term success around.
    We needed each of them to fill a specific need and to gain credibility (Beltran led to Pedro, who led to Wagner, Delgado, etc.). They are the core of the “New Mets.”
    I can't put Zito into that category.
    He's been pretty impressive, but not sell-the-farm impressive.
    Just cause he's the best pitcher out there, does not make him worth the kind of numbers we've heard being thrown around.
    I, too, don't want my team to be the guys that “buy championships.”
    I agree with Greg – it's sorta a Karma thing. Any championship would be sweet, but winning without automatically signing every Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, etc. etc. that comes along each winter is something to be prouder of.
    Having said that, if we can get this guy at a reasonable price, I wouldn't mind seeing him out there every fifth day.

  • Anonymous

    I'll quote Zito from a recent San Francisco Chronicle story: “They're all good teams, and they're all good locations…but what I'm looking for is an owner who sees eye-to-eye with me in my goal to lead a team to multiple World Series championships.”
    Even the most objecftive observer can pick from among the teams still in the hunt, and come up with the Mets.
    Scott Boras and Santa Claus both have ten-letter names that begin and end with an S – although Boras uses dollar signs instead. Another thing they have in common is, you have to wait a maddeningly long time for them to get around to going what we pay them to do – deliver the goods.
    That said, if we don't get Zito, we'll still be very good next year.
    By the way, to Greg, Jason, and all us FAFIF fans, have a wonderful Christmas and an Amazin' 2007!

  • Anonymous

    I'm just thrilled to bits not to find the repulsive Jeff Suppan under my tree. After that gift, anything else is gravy.

  • Anonymous

    I agree 100%. If we have to go into the season w/Glavine, El Duque, Maine, Perez and Williams it won't thrill me but it won't leave me grasping, yankee-like, for the first ridiculously misgided trade of the season. If we're .500 in August I may be cranky but this team will live and die on being able to knock in 4-7 runs a game, not by shutting everyone out every night. And if one of those guys goes on to make the all-star team at $400K-$2mil a year instead of at $15mil+ it'll be that much sweeter. We can always get Zito in 18 months when Hicks is offering to pay $8mil of his $18mil contract and take a prospect in return. I'd rather see if we make a Dontrelle deal when the Fish decide that they want to pay the whole team Mussina money…
    Let's Go Omar

  • Anonymous

    Besides, if he wanted to be here, he'd be here by now.
    Not so fast, Colonel Hogan.
    If he'd followed his head (if not his heart) and come to the team in the other league (where that switch alone will probably produce more wins, fewer runs and more performance bonuses), but done it before Meche and Lilly established the exchange rate on their much lower-value currency, he'd be much poorer for his logic.
    We, on the other hand, will be the poorer ones now if we now have to pay more on account of midwestern stupidity. Somehow, I think we'll be able to afford it.
    PS to Greg and Jessica and anyone else interested: if he does sign with the Mets, or even if he doesn't, that Saturday A's game in June is looking like a definite for my one-day Met Bloggers conference. Watch my space (which is not on MySpace) for further details.

  • Anonymous

    I'll be the one to piss in the punch and note that I think Zito is the best fit out there for the Mets' needs.
    More than anything, the Mets need a front-of-the-rotation pitcher they can pencil in for 200 innings and 15 wins. I don't see anyone available who fits that description, except for Zito. The Mets can either overpay in cash to get him, or overpay in talent to acquire a lesser talent — but it doesn't appear that anyone better (e.g., Dontrelle, Oswalt) is going to be available this off-season.
    The other thing Zito could provide is a bridge from our 40-something starters to the Pelfrey-Humber Era. And that would be a nice security blanket to have around during this transition.
    Everyone seems to be hung up on the money and the inevitable question of whether Zito is a true ace who warrants a $100-million commitment. I think that question is a distraction from the real issue: He's the tonic, the missing piece to the current puzzle. When you get a flat tire in St. Joseph, Louisiana, you really don't care how much it costs to get it changed, as your greater goal is bigger than saving a few dollars.

  • Anonymous

    Benny,
    I second that emotion. A bridge from Shea to CitiField would be a perfect role for Zito.
    Glavine/Zito/Duque/Maine/Perez or Williams sounds so nice.
    And who's that guy coming back in mid-season? Pablo? Pedro? We can fit him in there somewhere when he's ready.