NEW YORK -- The Mets remember Jeff Suppan the way Captain Hook remembered the crocodile. When the World Series was within their reach, they found their reach wasn't quite long enough because of what he had done. Suppan pitched the Cardinals to a victory in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series and moved them to the threshold of the World Series in Game 7.
Evidently, the Mets didn't take it personally, though. Indeed, they may ask him drop over for a season or two.
A step below Barry Zito in the free-agent class of 2006, Suppan became a second stop in the Mets' pre-Christmas rush. The same four-man contingent that dined with Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday met Wednesday with Suppan and his representatives, also in Southern California.
And, as was the case Tuesday, the Mets said nothing publicly that even acknowledged their pursuit or that chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, general manager Omar Minaya, assistant general manager John Ricco and vice president Tony Bernazard were in the Los Angeles area.
Even with his postseason success and his 44 victories in the three most recent seasons -- three more than Zito -- Suppan clearly is on the second tier of free agents in the Mets' view. They regard him as a step up from Steve Trachsel, the departed free agent Suppan outpitched -- he hit a home run, too -- in Game 2 of the NLCS, a step up from journeyman, but not a No. 1 starter.
Were he to become a member of the Mets' rotation, Suppan, who was named the NLCS MVP, would slide in behind Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez or between them, though his record from 2004 through 2006 -- 44-26 -- is superior to Glavine's and Hernandez's records, 39-34 and 28-22 respectively.
Suppan's presence would leave two vacancies in the Mets' rotation, two for a field that will include John Maine, Oliver Perez, Dave Williams, Jason Vargas, Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber.
Suppan, 32 next month, would be a primary fallback alternative for the Mets if they became convinced Zito would command too lucrative a contract or that he just wouldn't play for the National League franchise in New York.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.