Mets, Mariners among Smoltz's early suitors

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A source told FOXSports.com that the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Mariners, Astros, Rangers and Orioles have expressed early interest in free agent John Smoltz.
That there are three AL clubs in the group of seven teams is a bit of a surprise. It figured that the interest in Smoltz would be mostly concentrated among NL teams, given that Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox last season. He was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts for St. Louis.
The report indicates that Smoltz is open to the possibility of returning to closing duties next year. That may just be an effort to give him more bargaining power, though. Smoltz has always preferred starting, and he seems more likely to hold up physically working every five or six days than he would given a reliever’s workload. Plus, it’s a lot easier to sneak in a round of golf when you know exactly when you’ll be pitching.
So, while Smoltz will weigh all offers, his best chance of adding to his Cooperstown resume would come as a starter in the National League. A return to St. Louis would make a lot of sense, given pitching coach Dave Duncan’s track record with veteran starters. The Dodgers, Cubs and Brewers could use him as well.

The Mets expect Tim Tebow to come back next year

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Mets assistant general manager John Ricco told Newsday today that he expects minor league outfielder Tim Tebow to return for a third season in professional baseball.

Tebow, 31, broke the hamate bone in his right hand while swinging a bat in late July, ending his season. It was a fairly successful season for him all things considered. After being promoted to Double-A Binghamton to start the year he hit .273/.336/.399 with six home runs, a stolen base and a .734 OPS in 298 plate appearances and made the Double-A All-Star team. That’s not the stuff of a top prospect — he strikes out far too much and the power numbers aren’t fantastic given that power would figure to be his strongest tool — but it’s pretty respectable for a guy his age and with his relative lack of baseball experience. As I said back in July, you can believe the Mets’ interest in Tebow is more marketing than baseball, but that does not preclude you from giving the guy a deserved tip of the cap for working hard and sticking it out in the bush leagues.

Assuming he does come back, the Mets are likely to start him at Triple-A Syracuse in the hopes that he’d eventually get to the bigs as a late season callup if the Mets aren’t in contention. Indeed, many believed that was the plan for him this year had he not been injured.