As was expected, the Mets declined Al Leiter's $10.2 million option in favor of a $2.1 million buyout. While the Mets have expressed interest in re-signing Leiter for a final year at a lower price, there's already speculation that the Yankees may snatch him up.
To which I say, let them do it. Leiter's been an unquestionable bright spot on the Mets for the past seven years, and with his numerous contributions to charity, would actually appear to be a decent human being (Republican support aside); something you find all too seldom in the majors nowadays. How much influence he did or did not have in the ill-fated Kazmir trade is up for debate, but considering the ungodly mess which constituted the Mets front office circa '04, it would be foolish to place too much accountability on one pitcher.
That said, while he could have benefitted from a little more run support in the second half of last season, when I think of Leiter '04, the phrase 'smoke and mirrors' comes to mind. Never has a pitcher with a 3.21 ERA gotten himself into more onbase trouble than Leiter did in the second half of the season. Nicknamed 'MacGyver' by his team for his uncanny ability to escape the protoypical bases-loaded jam; I'd be more apt to call him the 'King of the 4 and 2/3rds inning.' He's 39 years old, spent a good portion of last season injured, and suffers from high pitch counts; something which the Mets bullpen most certainly can not afford. Put simply, his control and velocity are a far cry from what they were in '98-'00. He relies on his breaking stuff more so than ever, and on the rare occasions that his fastball isn't way outside, it usually tops out at 88.
The Yankees have a dire need for a left-handed starter, and are far more likely to put up the run support that Leiter would have appreciated over last season. They'll pay him more too. While I personally have no desire to see the Yankees improve by filling a void, if disposing of Leiter creates an avenue for Barry Zito becoming reunited with Peterson, I'll gladly get my #22 jersey re-lettered.