Inside Pitch: Glavine's status uncertain

The Mets tied for the major league lead with 97 victories and lost the NLCS with the winning run on base in the ninth inning of Game 7, so it is more a matter of fine-tuning than a complete overhaul.

Most of that tuning, of course, will be with the pitching, a combination of getting younger in the rotation and bringing back the bullpen.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The biggest need is to stabilize the rotation with RHP Pedro Martinez out until the All-Star break following shoulder surgery and LHP Tom Glavine's status up in the air. Glavine is expected back, but if not they figure to go in deep into the free agent market. Even with Glavine coming back, a veteran presence is needed because there will be a surplus of young arms with LHP Oliver Perez and RHPs Brian Bannister, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey.

FREE AGENTS: LHPs Tom Glavine and Darren Oliver; RHPs Orlando Hernandez, Steve Trachsel, Guillermo Mota, Chad Bradford and Roberto Hernandez; LF Cliff Floyd; INFs Jose Valentin and Chris Woodward.

If Glavine submits to family pressure, he could return to Atlanta. With the youth at the back end of the rotation and RHP Pedro Martinez out until midseason following shoulder surgery, he's their top priority. The Mets are also expected to retain Orlando Hernandez but not Steve Trachsel. The bullpen was the National League's best, and four relievers could be on the market.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: C Ramon Castro, OF Endy Chavez, LHP Oliver Perez, RHP Duaner Sanchez, LHP Dave Williams, RHP Victor Zambrano.

The only player the Mets will probably ignore is Zambrano, who is recovering from elbow surgery. The Mets want to bring back the other five.

IN LIMBO: LF Cliff Floyd, RHP Aaron Heilman.

The Mets will assume they won't have Floyd, which is the thing to do considering he won't be ready until February following surgery on his left Achilles tendon. Heilman was supposed to be a starter but was put into the bullpen, where he pitched well. He still wants to start, but the Mets are in no hurry to give him that chance. The thing to do might be to trade him while there is value.

PROSPECT WATCH: The Mets eschewed several opportunities over the last two seasons to trade OF Lastings Milledge but might be less reluctant to deal him this winter now that he has not made the splash expected of him. RHP Mike Pelfrey will go to the fall instructional league and will have a chance to make the rotation next year out of spring training.

MEDICAL WATCH:

LF Cliff Floyd will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a strained left Achilles tendon and won't be ready until mid-February.

RHP Roberto Hernandez is scheduled for right knee surgery Wednesday and is expected to be ready for spring training.

C Paul Lo Duca had surgery to repair ligament damage in his left thumb but should be ready for spring training.

INF Chris Woodward underwent shoulder surgery but should be ready for spring training.

1B Carlos Delgado had surgery on his right wrist and has another procedure scheduled for his right elbow, but he should be ready for spring training.

RHP Pedro Martinez already had rotator cuff surgery and won't be ready until at least the All-Star break.

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