So with the 4 p.m. ET trading deadline less than 24 hours away, the Mets were left to consider what if, and decide whether they were disappointed or relieved by the breakdown in talks. They knew that Ramirez would have arrived in Queens with baggage other than his Red Sox bag. And including Milledge in the offer to the Sox hadn't been easy to agree to. Milledge is a highly regarded five-tool player whom general manager Omar Minaya had identified in the winter as "probably part of our future core of players."
But Ramirez is a special talent, and even at age 33 with a $64 million obligation attached to him, he still was attractive to a club trying win a place in the postseason for the first time since 2000 and make itself as attractive as possible for next year when it is to launch its own cable network. The money owed Ramirez was not an issue to owner Fred Wilpon, a person familiar with the owner's thinking said on Friday. Wilpon had approved the move, if it could be arranged.
There were issues, though, in the clubhouse. Players desperately don't want to lose Cameron, and Cliff Floyd wasn't delighted with the prospect of shifting from left field to right to accommodate Ramirez, hardly a skilled outfielder. Not that Floyd wouldn't have made the move, though -- he kiddingly said he would move to first base "for $20 million" and later said a shift to right would cost only $2 million more.
But Willie Randolph said he hadn't considered moving Floyd from the position he had played so well this season.
Good Wil hitting: The Mets did acquire one veteran right-handed hitter with left field experience at Fenway Park. They signed infielder Wil Cordero to a Minor League contract and assigned him to their Triple-A Norfolk affiliate. Cordero, 33, batted .118 (6-for-51) with two doubles and two RBIs in 29 games with the Nationals before being released on July 25th.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder hit .197 (13-for-66) with three doubles, one home run and six RBIs in 27 contests for the Marlins in 2004. He was also 4-for-8 (.500) with two home runs and five RBIs in three games for Class A Jupiter of the Florida State League.
Mets history -- July 31: Bob Shaw beat the Cubs, 2-1, at Shea Stadium on this date in 1966 to complete the first winning month in club history (18-14). ... Tommie Agee stole home for the fourth time in less than two years as the Mets beat the Cubs, 5-2, on this date in 1971. ... Jesse Orosco won both games in a doubleheader against the Pirates in 1983. He emerged as the winner in two 12-inning games. The scores were 7-6 and 1-0.
The results of an internet vote were announced on this date in 2000, months before the Subway Series. The Mets' 1986 season was elected the No. 1 "moment" in franchise history. The "Miracle Mets" season of 1969 was runner-up, and the grand-slam single by Robin Ventura that ended Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS was third.
On deck: Roger Clemens, the only Astros starter the Mets missed in this series, is in the midst of a Bob Gibson season. And right now, he's not even the Astros' best starter. Roy Oswalt has been for the last 10 days, according to members of the Astros staff. And Oswalt (14-8) is whom the Mets face on Sunday. Kaz Ishii starts opposite Oswalt. He has a 3-9 record.
In the National League, only Clemens' preposterous 1.46 ERA is lower than Oswalt's 2.33. Oswalt has more strikeouts (15) than hits allowed (14) in his last two starts. He has allowed one run in 17 innings and won both games.
But the Mets are responsible for one of Oswalt's eight losses. With Pedro Martinez pitching a complete game, they beat Oswalt, scoring three runs against him in 6 2/3 innings. Oswalt hit Floyd with a pitch in that game for the second time in two seasons, an event Floyd remembers well.