(we’ve had too many photos of Barry Zito recently, so you’ll have to settle for one of Chuck, instead)

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman claims there are those within the Mets organization who consider Barry Zito to be “not a true ace and worth nowhere near the $73 million over five years received by Roy Oswalt,” but goes on to explain why the club is still likely to make an offer.

Right now, they have a $100 million-plus payroll and just one pitcher who has exceeded 200 innings this decade: Tom Glavine, who turns 41 in March. Orlando Hernandez always needed a few in-season sabbaticals even when he was lying about how young he was. The Mets are basing an awful lot on how well John Maine and Oliver Perez handled NLCS Games 6 and 7, but that does not tell us much about their ability to thrive over 30-plus starts.

In Perez, the Mets really do believe they have reversed the Scott Kazmir trade, finding a young, high-ceiling lefty for a small price (Xavier Nady). Perez is tremendously talented. He also has the majors’ fourth-worst ERA (6.22) over the past two seasons (minimum 200 innings). Is he a star or a tease?

The Mets are not some experimental, rebuilding squad. They need 200 sure innings. They hate the rest of
the free-agent market (think Ted Lilly and Gil Meche) and are loathe to part with Pelfrey, Humber, Aaron Heilman or Lastings Milledge in a mostly unappealing trade market.

Which is where Zito comes back in. You might not love him. But he is as close to 200 sure innings and 15 wins as the Mets can get. They know this and, unfortunately for them, so does Scott Boras.

Keep in mind, by the way, this is the same Joel Sherman who doubted the Mets would make a play for Zito back in September.

Sherman’s Post colleague George King suggests — despite neither Brian Cashman nor Scott Boras confirming his suspicions — the Yankees are poised to make a last minute offer for Zito.