As noted previously, Wilpon Inc. is still on the hook for Billy Wagner‘s 2009 salary, and as such, writes Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, the Mets are likely to seek a cheaper closer option than free agent Francisco Rodriguez.

Omar Minaya is intrigued by the idea of trading young talent to Chicago for Bobby Jenks. An official from an American League club – not the Angels or White Sox – opines that the Mets would be better off giving up high-level prospects for Jenks than throwing big dollars at K-Rod.

Jenks’ strikeout numbers have gone down the last couple of years, from 80 in 69 2/3 innings in 2006 to 56 in 65 innings in 2007 to 38 in 61 2/3 innings in 2008. But the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those numbers actually reflected a change for the better in Jenks.

“I think it’s made him a more effective pitcher,” the official said. “He’s throwing a little cutter-slider thing now. It breaks really late, and he uses it off his fastball. His fastball velocity is down a little bit [between 92 and 95 mph], but he’s pitching more. He’s not just raring back and firing.

Before, you could go out and take a pitch, take two pitches, and you knew he would throw fastballs – at 100, but fastballs. Now you have to be ready to swing from pitch one. When he wants to elevate, he can still go get it. He also has a top-to-bottom curveball that he shows early in counts, but if he doesn’t show it, he might use it at the back end. I don’t think looking at his strikeouts to walks is showing his effectiveness.”

In the wake of Hankenstein promising the Yankees would pursue CC Sabathia, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett this offseason, It’s Mets For Me‘s I.M. Forme applauds the news, insisting, “sometimes we have to welcome the Evil Empire back with open arms, just to right the balance of hate.”

Although it will drive up the price of mediocre starters and add needless years onto their bloated contracts, this is a good thing. Mets fans need the cartoonish Yankers to fill that hated enemy #1 or 2 role that the Spankers relinquished when they enabled the Mets, by passing on first Beltran and then Santana, and then of course when they started playing themselves into the 3rd place AL East also-ran role they currently fill. Having the Phillies as an enemy is just lame. From the Spankers perspective, trusting CC’s legs to support that body for much longer is a fool’s game. Just for fun, I’d like to see the Mets make an offer for CC slightly higher than the Yanks to get the ball rolling. Then crazy Art Moreno of the Angels might get interested.