Meet the Mets
Jon Niese's name has certainly become a popular one this offseason, as the 25-year old lefty continues to be talked about as possible trade bait. The first "rumor" of Friday was that the Mets had been discussing Niese with the Blue Jays, with catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud a target for New York. D'Arnaud, a very talented 22-year old catching prospect, would be a major coup for the Mets if they could wrangle him away from the Jays. Of course, it would probably be too much of a steal, as prospect gurus Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law emphatically put it. The second rumor of the day was that the Rockies might try to acquire Niese for a package headed up by 29-year old platoon outfielder Seth Smith. Yikes. No thanks.
Outside of Niese, there were more Gio Gonzalez to the Mets rumors, which continue to seem incredibly far-fetched. Especially since Jon Heyman reported on Friday that Niese, Ike Davis, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia or Jenrry Mejia are off limits to the A's in a Gonzalez deal. So exactly does this leave for the Mets and A's to match up on? Hmm. Regardless, Patrick Flood compared Niese to Gonzalez and the numbers are almost overwhelmingly in favor of the A's lefty.
Whitestone's Own Mike Baxter has re-signed with the Mets as expected, to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Meanwhile, the Mets have had talks with Jack Wilson and Ronny Cedeno. I'm hoping that this is how those "talks" went.
Over at the SNY Why Guys, Mike Salfino tries to project a potential path for Lucas Duda, whose offensive production could range anywhere from Ryan Howard to Chris Shelton.
Howard Megdal's book "Wilpon's Folly" came out on Friday and the big bombshell, as reported by the Post, was that Fred Wilpon asked his friend Bud Selig to essentially play the role of the "bad cop" by denying David Einhorn's partial ownership bid, as he got cold feet and feared losing control of the team. The Mets, in reaction to the release of the book, vehemently denied the claims but at this point, should we really believe the claims of ownership after they've backtracked on their financial status multiple times?
Finally, it looks as if Howie Rose will in fact have a new partner in the WFAN booth in 2012. Wayne Hagin's contract was not renewed and WFAN has apparently been interviewing replacements.
Around the Majors
Barry Bonds was sentenced to two years' probation and 30 days house arrest for his conviction on one count of obstruction of justice.
Michael Cuddyer agreed to a 3-year, $31.5 million contract with the Rockies on Friday. I understand Cuddyer is very versatile in that he can stand at multiple positions on the infield/in the outfield and not make a fool of himself, but $31.5 million seems ridiculous, especially considering a better hitter named Carlos Beltran is still on the free agent market.
The Cubs, Rangers and Blue Jays are among the bidders for Yu Darvish and the Jays are rumored to have placed the high bid. The deadline for the Nippon Ham Fighters to accept the top bid is Tuesday, so it may still be a few days before we find out gets the right to negotiate with him.
Since they let SS Alex Gonzalez walk, it looks as if the Braves will let 22-year old rookie Tyler Pastornicky start at short come opening day. Could the Braves' youth movement negatively affect their 2012 season?
Finally, the Orioles did something interesting as they moved six of their pro scouts to the amateur scouting side, leaving an unprecedented two pro scouts. They will utilize more video and statistical analysis as a means of pro scouting. It's a bold strategy. Let's see if it pays off for them.