Should we expect Duaner Sanchez to come back 100 percent and be the solid reliever we saw before his accident? -- Rich L., Upper Saddle River, N.J.
I don't think you could expect that even if he never had been injured. Nothing in the game is more fickle that the performance levels of setup relievers from one season to the next.
What is general manager Omar Minaya thinking? How could he not give Paul Lo Duca another chance to come back to the Mets next season? It just seems like he didn't even consider him at all. Lo Duca gave us his all this year, and he was definitely the best choice for catcher. It was great to have someone who could speak their mind, with honesty, especially since he was right about mostly everything he said. -- Jane M., address withheld
I understand how you feel. You won't be the only one who senses Lo Duca's absence. He was approachable, insightful and candid.
Why are the Mets letting Lo Duca go? His numbers and Johnny Estrada's numbers are almost identical. Lo Duca threw out a higher percentage of runners than Estrada and has had more seasons hitting .300 or better. It seems to be a big secret why they're not re-signing him. Is it because of his temper? If that's it, then they should sign him for that reason. Who's going to be the player to get in somebody's face if they're not producing? I think it's a mistake to let him go. -- Bob A., East Meadow, N.Y.
I believe Lo Duca was important to the team dynamic because of his fire. And when he was rested, he appeared to be as productive as he had been in 2006. I also understand the Mets' need to get younger -- when Estrada turns 32 in June, Lo Duca willl be 36 -- and that whatever salary Estrada gains via his salary arbitration eligibility is likely to be at least $1 million less than what Lo Duca earned last season.
If the Mets got nothing in return for Guillermo Mota, it would be a great deal, as good as it was bad when Minaya re-signed him last year. He gets all kinds of credit for deals that have more to do with the other club's budgets than anything else, getting Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado and Estrada. Minaya shouldn't have given away Brian Bannister and Xavier Nady and getting three useless relievers, Ambiorix Burgos, Roberto Hernandez and Mota. -- Neal F., Syracuse, N.Y.
Well, I understand your feeling about Mota. That half of the deal for Estrada does seem like addition by subtraction. And neither Burgos nor Hernandez served much purpose, while what Bannister and Nady provided their teams in 2007 precisely what the Mets lacked. Bannister pitched 165 innings, produced a winning record (12-9) for a losing team and an ERA lower than 4.00 in the American League. Nady, whose departure in 2006 coincided with the Mets inability to beat left-handed pitching, batted .295 against southpaws and .313 with runners in scoring position for the Pirates.
But the irony of Hernandez situation in 2006 was that the acquisition -- and performance -- of Mota is what reduced the reliance on Hernandez.
Neither you nor I have ever understood Minaya's signing Mota to a two-year contract. The recent trade, however, knocks that one blemish of his otherwise stellar record. Do you think Estrada and Ramon Castro will be a good enough catching duo to attract Johan Santana? Also, given Estrada's 13 percent rate of throwing out baserunners, could the Mets see an increase in stolen-base attempts against them that will rival the end of Mike Piazza's time with the team? -- Glenn B., Wilmington, N.C.
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I suspect the skills of the catchers will not be foremost in the mind of Santana if the Mets can persuade the Twins to deal. And if they were, Estrada and Castro would be no problem. Estrada's throwing might be a problem in general. The Mets can hope the surgeries Estrada underwent last month -- left knee, right elbow -- will free him to improve his throwing. His numbers were poor, and sometimes that can be at least partially the responsibility of the pitchers. But while would-be basestealers were successful in 73 of 84 attempts while Estrada was catching, they were caught 12 times in 24 attempts when Damian Miller was the catcher.
Baseball contracts are out of control. I don't understand why a player who is making $2 million, $4 million or $10 million a year needs an incentive bonus in his contract. Isn't making that much money enough of an incentive? Would players agree to a contract that reduced payments if they were unable to produce to expected levels? Do the fans realize how these enormous contracts affect the average laborer? This cost is placed on the average fan. When is enough enough? -- Gary S., Flushing, N.Y.
I can understand your rage. But the clubs make more money than the players. It always strikes me that no one is upset when the Rolling Stones make millions during a concert tour or when Sylvester Stallone is paid more to make one movie than Justin Morneau earns in a season. Capitalism doesn't treat everyone equally.
Players with the extraordinary skills needed to play the game at the highest levels are well compensated because some owner is willing to pay them and because demand often exceeds supply. Would you expect a player to reject a contract because it was too lucrative? That said, I do find an occasional contract so outside the norm that it offends me as much as $5 popcorn at the movies does. I do respect the player and his agent for their ability to get what they can while it can be had.
I know players earn enough now to set up their families for 45 lifetimes these days, and the argument that players have a limited shelf life doesn't seem right when $10 million is awarded in a salary arbitration case. But that's the way it is. So too with incentive clauses.
When all is said and done, one conclusion is undeniable: The work of Marvin Miller on behalf of the players was the work of a genius.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.