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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 [1]. 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.