While “Pedro Martinez and Zito and even Jeff Suppan, (the Plan B who shocked everyone by signing with the Brewers) are just vapor in the Mets’ once-lofty plans,” the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch wonders just what sort of starting rotation the Mets’ Omar Minaya will cobble together.

The options are limited, unless you’re intrigued by free agent Jeff Weaver, who already failed once in New York, or a trade for Javier Vazquez (ditto) or think it’s worth being fleeced by Billy Beane just to pry Rich Harden away from the A’s.

Minaya has been sweet-talking Beane in recent weeks. Give him credit for at least trying. The two spoke 10 days ago, when Minaya again tried to persuade the A’s to take Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge for Harden. Beane wouldn’t budge. By telephone Thursday, the GM said, “We have some personnel here that would be difficult for us to consider moving.” In not so many words, Beane told the Mets it would take Milledge, Philip Humber (above) or Mike Pelfrey and Carlos Gomez, a 20-year-old can’t-miss prospect, to complete a deal for Harden or even Dan Haren.

The Mets knew there was no competing with the Giants’ cash, not at $18 million a year. The Wilpon family and Minaya decided Zito simply wasn’t worth that much. One GM said, “This is one time Omar realized something we all try to remember in this business, there’s always another star who’ll be available. It’s never about one guy.”

But will that restraint mean anything next summer, when half the rotation is decomposing, and the bullpen is burned out by July? The Mets have every right to feel good about the money they saved Thursday, but in the heat of a pennant race, cash is no substitute for wins. The scouting report for the ’07 Mets is already in: They had better hit.

Always Amazin’s Ryan McConnell is pretty satisfied that long-term, the Mets have dodged a bullet.

I’m appreciative that Omar Minaya isn’t Steve Phillips. Much like Bobby Bonilla’s deal with the Mets in ’92, Zito’s deal with the Giants is astoundingly bad; it’s the type of contract that not only throws the market completely out of whack, but cripples a team’s financial flexibility for years to come. While Zito’s a solid pitcher and I’m disappointed he won’t be playing for the Mets, I have little doubt that passing on him will be the right decision for the future of the franchise. Resisting the “win now” mentality isn’t easy, especially in New York. But it’s these kinds of decisions that make a decade-long dynasty more possible.

Much as it pains me to write the following, the notion of bring Steve Traschel back to the Mets is not only inoffensive in light of recent events, it might even be downright prudent (assuming Traschel isn’t looking for Jeff Suppan money, and if he was, we’d have probably heard about it by now). The single/seperated life led to a career year in ’06 for Paul Lo Duca, so perhaps Traschel and Captain Red Ass can room together?

SI.com’s Jon Heyman casts an obstinate no way (Jose) vote against Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame candidacy (“With eight years to learn and reflect, there’s almost no doubt in my mind McGwire was not only artificially enhanced but that he was more enhanced than just about anyone else,”), and I for one, am completely stunned. How did Heyman get a ballot?

I don’t know when or if the former Pride Of Peabody, MA, Jeff Allison will be making his Yard Work debut. But he’ll have to try pretty hard to live up to the standard set by Shea Hillenbrand.