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Mets Loss Marlins Gain


Fish Tank Frenzy
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February 24, 2005 -- JUPITER, Fla. ? There was the one who was sent away, Al Leiter, and the one who got away, Carlos Delgado. The Mets' loss is Florida's gain.

 

In Delgado's first spring session with the Marlins against live pitching, he took a low and away pitch over the screen in centerfield, a monster shot.

 

"The wind was blowing out," the engaging Delgado said yesterday with a smile.

 

Here's another first impression. As I walked into the Marlins' clubhouse there was Leiter in the corner, sitting with young flame-thrower Josh Beckett.

 

The two looked like they were part of a college study group. Leiter had a thick, three-ring manual on his lap, breaking down pitchers vs. hitters.

 

Beckett, who has already nicknamed Leiter, "The Senator," listened intently to the veteran lefty, asking questions, getting the kind of feedback that one usually gets from a pitching coach. Soon, youngster A.J. Burnett joined the conversation and Dontrelle Willis was next in line.

 

Leiter is already helping the young Marlin pitchers get their heads together and that could prove invaluable. Leiter sees the Marlins as a first-place team. So do I.

 

click here

 

"I think they have dominant pitching and superior defense," Leiter said, still not comfortable enough to refer to the Marlins as "We."

 

Leiter does have a round of golf scheduled with Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel, but insisted, "The proverbial change of scenery is a good thing."

 

Asked if he is over his messy Met divorce, Leiter, who spent seven years at Shea, said, "Yeah. It was a great experience. I love New York, the Mets are my team, I understood the history and the tradition. That was my stadium. That's where my dad took me when I was a kid."

 

Leiter, 39, is not pleased with the way the parting took place under GM Omar Minaya.

 

"He could have spoken to me in a way that he knew me, as opposed to he was on some sort of grand jury doing a deposition," said Leiter, who signed a one-year $8 million deal with the Marlins, with $1 million going to charity.

 

As for dealing with Beckett & Co., Leiter said, "They are special talented guys. It's exciting to watch because potentially every night you can see greatness.

 

"When we talk, it's not about me knowing more or me being a know-it-all, it's about engaging these guys to communicate and talk about situations," Leiter explained.

 

In Delgado, the Marlins have the lefty power hitter manager Jack McKeon craved.

 

"It gives us more balance," McKeon said. "They can't pitch around [Mike] Lowell or [Miguel] Cabrera."

 

Delgado will have plenty of chances to drive in runs with Juan Pierre, Alex Gonzalez and Cabrera, who combined for 528 hits last season, batting ahead of him. "If he just does what he's done in the past, he's sitting on top of a gold mine," notes hitting coach Bill Robinson.

 

Delgado has averaged 38 home runs over the last seven years.

 

"When you're a predominantly right-hand hitting ballclub," Robinson said, "and now you insert Delgado, pitchers have to change their game plan."

 

Delgado, who often takes 20-30 mile bike rides, owns natural power.

 

"They can test me every day (for steroids)," he said.

 

In his heart, Delgado, who signed a four-year deal worth $52 million, with an option for a fifth year, said he didn't think he was that close to becoming a Met.

 

"They showed a lot of interest," he explained, "but I think there was a lot more written in the paper than what actually happened. I know people were excited but you've got to get the deal done first."

 

The deal is done now with the Marlins. And that's the Mets' loss.

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Delgado will have plenty of chances to drive in runs with Juan Pierre, Alex Gonzalez and Cabrera, who combined for 528 hits last season, batting ahead of him. "If he just does what he's done in the past, he's sitting on top of a gold mine," notes hitting coach Bill Robinson.

 

Hmm, no love for Luis? Alex in the 2 slot?

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