’s Jon Heyman is at the Winter Meetings and I’m gonna presume he’s left his room, despite the availability of the Spice Channel.

The Mets are expected to make their push here for Barry Zito. But if they can’t sign him, they are expected to turn to the White Sox, who have an excess of starting pitching and have been in talks with the Mets already about Freddy Garcia or possibly Javier Vazquez (above). Jon Garland is another White Sox right-hander who could interest the Mets.

The general perception is that the Zito Derby could come down to the Rangers and Mets, with Texas possibly offering more years/money and the chance to stay in the AL, and the Mets offering a better chance to win sooner and New York, a city friends say intrigues Zito. However, the Mets could actually wind up in a battle with three AL West teams.The Angels and Mariners are also believed to have expressed interest.

Mets officials are sending out signals that they don’t intend to meet the asking price, which is believed to be $105 million over seven years, and are concerned about giving any pitcher more than five years, even one with no history of injuries such as Zito. While some might question whether Zito would consider a hitters haven such as Ameriquest Field, Zito is 11-1 lifetime there with a very palatable 3.75 ERA, and he’s 41-16 lifetime vs. the AL West.

Some don’t envision Zito choosing Texas when he’ll have a chance to go to New York (or probably also to stay in the Los Angeles area). The Mets, for one, won’t be surprised if they are outbid by the Rangers, who have a history of winning bidding wars for Scott Boras clients (i.e. Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park five years ago), but a couple of Mets officials questioned whether Zito would opt for Arlington over New York City.

The Journal News’ John Delcos reports that Boston are demanding too much from the Dodgers (Jonathon Broxton, Matt Kemp, and perhaps James Loney or Andy LaRoche) in exchange for Manny Ramirez. While the Globe’s Gordon Edes concurs, colleague Nick Cafardo writes there’s been talk between the Brewers and Red Sox regarding reliever Derek Turnbow.

Giants GM Brian Sabean is denying earlier reports that San Francisco was no longer interested in bringing back Barry Bonds in 2007. Apparently, the club’s pursuit of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee was all about nudging Barry into trying a new position next spring, say, first base, or catcher.

Despite the fact the NY Post has Joel Sherman and George King on the scene at the Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, the paper also has Mike Forde, carefully hyperlinking to all interweb scoops his colleagues are missing while they’re having actual human conversations. Sherman, perhaps aware that Brian Cashman’s Monday consisted of hanging with Oriole-killer Jeffrey Maier and throwing a football around, makes the following projection for the Yankees’ week.

The Yankees™ silence is speaking loudly. Officials from throughout the sport are stunned by the Yanks™ passivity and inactivity. Brian Cashman is essentially following through on his pledge not to get overly involved in this costly market place. He badly wants to drop payroll over the next several years while increasing flexibility and options. It seems the only other big-ticket piece the Yanks would jump on this offseason is Andy Pettitte and more and more, I am coming to believe Pettitte will shun his retirement plans and his Houston roots to return to the Yankees. If that happens, the Yanks would have had a very good winter.

Gotham Baseball
solicits the opinion of a trusted coward anonymous source on the winter strategy of the Cincinnati Reds.

œI have no clue what (Wayne Krivsky) he’s trying to accomplish, to tell you the truth, said one baseball official, who spoke with Gotham Baseball Magazine on condition of anonymity. œHe gave two-year contracts to guys nobody wants, and increased his payroll in the process.

œHe™s still trying to get (Detroit Tigers™ right-hander Jeremy) Bonderman, but the Tigers are telling him that they™re not interested in dealing him anymore, said one baseball official. œI really don™t see the Reds doing much of anything, to be honest.