Part of the unusual nature of the Mets' offseason has been the fact that general manager Omar Minaya has never been given a budget. As the baseball operations powers have been evaluating possible strategies, the executives haven't been able to cast these choices against the context of how much money is available. On almost all teams, the talent evaluators are given a budget and then paint within those lines, dispersing the dollars according to the needs. The Mets' front office, on the other hand, is making its recommendations to Jeff Wilpon on a case-by-case basis, without knowing whether it is yet bumping up against a financial ceiling, or knowing how to prioritize the current needs for pitching or catching. "You need to start with a budget," said one talent evaluator. "And then you work from there. This really makes it much more difficult." In many cases, Wilpon has been the lead negotiator for the Mets this offseason, and not Omar Minaya, which has reinforced the belief in some corners of the organization that Minaya is one extended losing streak removed from being fired.