Omar Minaya was strutting around like peacock after the Francisco Rodriguez signing. He'd waited out the closer like a fighter pilot waiting for his enemy to make a mistake, until finally K-Rod stumbled into his crosshairs. He pulled the trigger, got his target and got the full Iceman/Maverick treatment on the deck of the aircraft carrier.
The thing about dogfighting is that the same move rarely works twice. Negotiating with free agents is kinda the same way. Minaya threw a lowball offer on the table to Derek Lowe, in hopes that he'd tire of floundering around in a slow baseball economy and ink a three-year, $36 million deal to join the Mets. Lowe balked at the offer, Minaya balked at offering the fourth year he demanded and both sides settled in for a long standoff.
The standoff ended yesterday when the Braves scooped up Lowe for $60 million over four years, leaving the Mets holding the bag while a division rival improved themselves. Minaya's response will be interesting as his team still badly needs help in the rotation. There are conflicting reports about an offer to Oliver Perez, purported interest in the talented but injury-prone Ben Sheets and Randy Wolf stands in the background as he has since free agency started.
None of them will help the Mets as much as Lowe. Perez has talent but lacks consistency and if reports of $30 million over three years for him are true, it's hard to imagine why the Mets wouldn't dig a little deeper for a pitcher who offered them more. Sheets is a complete wild card, neither he nor Wolf would do much to turn this rotation into something other than Johan Santana and the question marks.
The Mets have said, time and again, that the money lost in the Bernard Madoff scandal hasn't affected thir baseball operations. The clear drop from Lowe to everyone else, though, made signing him an imperative if they wanted to improve their rotation. Now they'll come back for another try with a slight variation on last year's group.
Unlike dogfighting and negotiating with free agents, fielding mediocre starting rotations usually works out the same way twice.