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Friday grab-bag: Mets, Phillies, Cabreras

Look, we're not trying to pick on the Mets here, despite appearances. It's just that their off-season seems to get worse by the day. Even when they do nothing, they sink a little lower. On Wednesday night, their top free-agent pitching target, Joel Pineiro, spurned them for what has been described as a similar offer (two years, $16 million) from the Angels. Yet another free agent who found a reason to go elsewhere.

Then on Thursday, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com in Boston dropped this fascinating piece about the collapse of the Red Sox's negotiations with Jason Bay -- who ultimately signed a four-year $66 million deal with the Mets last month. In the piece, which details the Red Sox's concerns about Bay's knees and shoulder, Bradford reports the Red Sox not only insisted upon protections in the contract against possible health issues, but they also wanted Bay to have surgery this offseason.

Perhaps the Mets' doctors, who examined Bay prior to the completion of the contract, are right about Bay's health, and the Red Sox were wrong. But Carlos Beltran probably wouldn't bet on it.

(And just before I posted, news of the Mets' trade for Gary Matthews Jr. broke, courtesy of SI.com's Jon Heyman. Depending on how much money came the Mets' way in the deal to cover Matthews' outrageous contract, it could be a decent move, with Matthews serving as a stop-gap until Beltran returns. But it doesn't exactly push the Mets over the top, does it?)

*Meantime, this also qualifies as bad news for the Mets: The Phillies have inked two more core performers, pitcher Joe Blanton and center fielder Shane Victorino, to long-term deals. For those of you scoring at home, here is an updated list of core Phillies, along with the year through which they are signed:

RHP Joe Blanton, 2012.
RHP Roy Halladay, 2013. (Plus vesting option for 2014.)
LHP Cole Hamels, 2011. (Under team control through 2012.)
1B Ryan Howard, 2011.
LF Raul Ibanez, 2011.
CL Brad Lidge, 2011.
3B Placido Polanco, 2012. (Plus mutual option for 2013.)
SS Jimm Rollins, 2010. (Plus club option for 2011.)
2B Chase Utley, 2013.
CF Shane Victorino, 2012.
RF Jayson Werth, 2010.

And that's not to mention their "zero-to-three" players (J.A. Happ, Antonio Bastardo, et al.) who are under team control for years to come. Awhile back, I asked whether the Phillies are building a mini-dynasty in the NL (or at least what qualifies as one these days). I certainly haven't seen anything this winter that would make me say, "No."

*I once had a long conversation with a veteran player who was teammates at the time with Miguel Cabrera, the immensely talented but questionably focused first baseman now with the Detroit Tigers. The veteran told me about some of Cabrera's conditioning issues and clubhouse problems, and concluded, "Imagine what he could do if he cared."

Now comes word that Cabrera has finally taken significant steps to change his life for the better. And maybe we won't have to wonder anymore what he can do when he cares.

*Finally, in case you missed it, old pal Daniel Cabrera (no relation to Miguel) has signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox. Hey, Ozzie, let me be among the first to say: Good luck with that.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 22, 2010; 11:09 AM ET
 
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Next: Champions of the Off-season

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