Mets' Randolph, Wright dream about Zito
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Willie Randolph would love to see Barry Zito pitching for his team next season.
Barry Zito has won at least 10 games and pitched at least 200 innings for six consecutive seasons. Only one active pitcher has a longer active streak:
"I like what we have, but Barry's one of the best pitchers in the game, and if the organization sees fit that we can fit him into our budget, then we'd love to have him," Randolph said Wednesday at the Mets' annual holiday party.
"He's the best pitcher on the market right now, and I think he could help our ball club. It would be nice to have him under our tree," he said.
Randolph, who led the Mets to their first NL East title since 1988, is entering his third season as manager and the final year of his contract. General manager Omar Minaya wants to sign him to an extension.
"We are talking to his agent. They have expressed to us that this is going to take some time," Minaya said. "He's still under contract for another year. There is no timeframe for doing these things. We would like to be able to get something done."
Kris Benson was Santa at last year's party and his wife, Anna, showed up in a low-cut Santa costume, a move that upset some in the organization. About a month later, Benson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
This year's Santa was All-Star third baseman David Wright.
"I didn't have quite as good-looking helpers as Kris had last year," Wright said. "No Mrs. Claus. Mrs. Claus was a little too sexy last year and I think from now on we'll have Santa's Helpers help out."
Randolph and utilityman Julio Franco served as elves this time, handing out presents to over 100 children from the city's public schools.
Zito also has been sought after by the Texas Rangers. His agent, Scott Boras, has said he envisions a six- or seven-year contract.
"We said that we are going to look at free agents to try and improve our pitching," Minaya said. "He is one of the guys we are still considering. He's a proven winner, he's given innings. But we feel that our pitching staff, the way it is right now, is similar to the second half of last year and in some way might be better."
New York currently has a projected rotation that includes Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, with John Maine, Dave Williams, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber competing for the other three spots at the start of the season.
Pedro Martinez, coming off rotator cuff surgery, hopes to return during the second half of the season. Minaya said Mets trainers planned to visit Martinez in the Dominican Republic next week to track his progress.
As for Zito, the Mets appear uncomfortable with a six- or seven-year deal.
"If doesn't make sense, were comfortable with our starting pitching and our overall pitching," Minaya said.
Wright is willing to help recruit Zito.
"If we get that far and Barry decides to come and visit New York, I'd be more than open to showing Barry around and trying to sell him on New York," Wright said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press