Here’s some video from ESPN of Johan Santana throwing off the mound for the first time since his elbow surgery in September. With Ben Sheets and Jon Garland going off the market today, the Mets need a healthy Santana more than ever.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Nick Migliore. Nick is a big-time Mets fan and frequent commenter here and on other Mets fan sites. It’s great to have him making a contribution that should add some diversity to the perspective on the Mets from other posts that are on this site. You can follow Nick on Twitter.
First and foremost, I’m glad to be part of The Mets Report! Thanks again to Dave Doyle for the opportunity to write for this site. I’m a huge Mets fan, and to give you a heads up about my writings, I tend to rely on more in-depth stats than just the standard ERA, win-loss records, batting average, etc. I hope everyone enjoys my contributions. If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop a comment below and I will do my best to reply.
Now, on topic: John Smoltz. Yes, he pitched to a 6.35 ERA and a lousy 3-8 record last year. Yes, he was extremely hittable (95 hits in 78 IP), and yes, he’s 42 years old and will turn 43 about a month and a half into the season. But I really think this guy can help the Mets in 2010. Why? I’ll try my best to explain. Continue reading
Many were clamoring for John Lackey when the free agent signings started. He ended up in Boston and the drop off to the next level of free agent is huge. I never thought that the Mets would end up with Lackey, nor do I think they need another starter with #1 type of stuff.
I’d like to know of the remaining free agents, which players do you think that the Mets should be after? Be wary of the injured former stars like Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard. That kind of signing could really blow up in the Mets face if they rely on a player with a terrible injury history. It probably wouldn’t blow up as badly as the Oliver Perez contract did though.
The poll is after the break.
Image by ddoyle1112 via Flickr
There’s only one certainty when it comes to the Mets starting pitchers for 2010: Johan Santana. As long as he’s healthy, there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s had some minor injury problems but I don’t expect to see any decline in his performance. After Santana, the situation gets very murky, very quickly. This is about to get ugly, so Mets fans hold onto your hats.
Mike Pelfrey– In 31 starts Pelfrey finished the season at 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA. 2009 was a serious regression for him from his 2008 line of 32 starts 13-11 and 3.72 ERA. Pelfrey had some disgusting performances like June 4th in Pittsburgh giving up 8 runs in 3.2 innings and giving up 9 runs in 4.1 innings in Atlanta on July 17th. There were other ugly games but you get the idea. Often Pelfrey looked uncomfortable and frustrated, but who wouldn’t be while pitching poorly? He had a bad year but the Mets have too much invested in him for him not to be back in the rotation. He’ll be there. You can bank on it. But I doubt that he’ll be considered the #2 starter. He should be demoted in the rotation. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have a bounce-back year in 2010.
There were media reports that the Mets wanted to get a deal done with Oliver Perez by today. We haven’t received word from the Mets or Scott Boras that anything has been settled yet. So, we keep waiting.
This whole off-season has been so strange for free agents. I’ve said this before, but there are a lot of free agents right now that should sign one year contracts and hope for a better economic environment next year. Ben Sheets is definitely one of them.
Jack Curry of the New York Times is reporting today that the Mets made an offer to Derek Lowe. It’s no surpise that he’s the pitcher the Mets are after right now. Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, and Randy Wolf are still available as free agents as well. But Lowe is the best starting pitcher on the market.
Curry reports that the offer is a 3-year/$36 million contract. Lowe will be 36 years old next season so it makes sense to keep the contract to three years or fewer.
Lowe is reported to be seeking a 5-year/$90 million contract. So the Mets are pretty far from Lowe’s desired deal. The Red Sox and Phillies are also reported to be interested in Lowe. But it’s difficult to tell how interested they are. The Red Sox just signed Brad Penny to a one year deal. So they may not go after another starter.
I’m completely on board with this signing, especially if Omar Minaya can keep the contract to just three years. I would even go to four years, but there’s no way that I’d go to five. Lowe is probably going to get closer to the $50 million range than the $90 million that he’s seeking.
It isn’t news to a fan of the New York Mets that they have at least one hole to fill in the rotation. The Mets have a solid three starters in Johan Santana, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey. Jon Niese offers a possible alternative as a fifth starter as well.
Niese went 1-1 in three starts last season including a brilliant eight-inning start against the Braves on September 13th, giving up no runs. But he did get hit hard in his two other starts against the Brewers and Cubs resulting in a 7.07 ERA. He’s got potential but it wouldn’t be wise to bank on him to hold down a spot in the rotation.
The top of the Mets shopping list has to be Derek Lowe. But Oliver Perez and Ben Sheets offer interesting alternatives. We know all about the inconsistent Perez. But he did seem to fare well under the tuteledge of pitching coach Dan Warthen last season.
Lowe and Sheets are both Type A free agents and were offered arbitration by their teams. So the Mets will have to give up draft picks to sign them. The Mets already gave up draft picks to sign Francisco Rodriguez, so that will make it tougher to stomach signing Lowe or Sheets.
Jon Garland is an interesting option. He’s a Type B free agent that was offered arbitration by the Angels. He’s an innings-eater and a consistent performer. Tim Redding and Brad Penny are available as well and wouldn’t cost any draft picks.
Randy Wolf has been rumored to be flirting with the Mets. But he’s wanted to stay on the West Coast for several years. He’s even taken one year deals to stay in Los Angeles and San Diego. I think he’s using the Mets to get a better offer out west.
The list of starters available to vie for the fifth spot in the rotation is pretty long. It includes names like Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. The Mets may sign Pedro to a one year deal. But for anyone else it’ll be a race to see who the Mets can get to accept a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. They can have a competition in spring training with Niese.
Although the Mets seem to be moving slowly to shore up the rotation, there are plenty of options to fill the one or two spots available. I expect the Mets to announce a signing soon after the new year.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
You probably thought my next off-season needs post would be the bullpen. Yes, that post is coming soon. It’s almost too much to think about though. So for now, let’s talk about the starting pitching situation.
Returning starters Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine will be in the rotation. Santana is a shut-down ace and really requires no further discussion. He’ll be starting on opening day in Cincinnati, period. Pelfrey had a break out season in 2008 and should be the #2 behind Santana. He seemed to run out of gas a bit in September but really found himself in May.
John Maine is coming off shoulder surgery to address a bone spur. He’s cleared to start throwing again in December and should be fine for spring training. I really thought he was going to have a break out season after being nearly unhittable in spring training. But the injuries really damaged his season.
Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez will both be free agents after the World Series ends. I don’t expect to see Pedro back again. And Ollie will probably get a better offer than he’s worth from someone other than the Mets. If Omar Minaya can make a decent deal with Ollie and Scott Boras (doubtful) in the neighborhood of 3-years/$27 million, he should take it. But I think some team out there will go to four or five years for Ollie because he’s only going to be 27 years old during the 2009 season.
That leaves two openings to be filled in the rotation. Expect Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell to get a shot to compete for one of those spots in spring training. One of those two promising minor leaguers should get a chance to occupy the #5 spot in the rotation.
The Mets will probably look to fill a #4 spot from free agency and take a chance on a “project” starter as insurance in case Niese and Parnell aren’t ready for the majors yet. You can see the complete list of starters that will be free agents next month at MLB Trade Rumors. Beyond CC Sabathia (17-10 2.70) and Ben Sheets (13-9 3.09), the list isn’t really that impressive. Don’t expect the Mets to splurge on another ace like those two. They got Johan Santana last off-season. So I don’t see the Mets making another huge financial commitment to a starter.
A.J. Burnett (18-10 4.07) will probably opt out of his Blue Jays contract. But he’ll be looking for a long-term deal and I don’t expect the Mets to get into a 4+ year deal with any pitchers at this point.
There are several guys that could fit nicely into the middle of the rotation like Derek Lowe (14-11 3.24). Despite the rumors that he doesn’t want to be on the east coast again, he’ll go where the money is. He’ll be 36 years old next season but he could certainly fill the spot in the middle of the rotation. Jon Garland (14-8 4.90) and Ryan Dempster (17-6 4.51) are certainly worth talking to about a three year contract as well.
The “project” pitcher that the Mets pick up on a one-year deal could be anyone from Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, or Sidney Ponson. The tricky part will be finding a pitcher that will agree to a minor league contract so the Mets can give Parnell and Niese a legitimate shot at the fifth spot in the rotation. Colon and Clement seem the most likely candidates to agree to start the season in the minors.
Even with Pedro and Ollie probably leaving there are plenty of free agent options available this off-season. I certainly wouldn’t like to see the Mets get into a contract longer than three years for a middle of the rotation starter. That should be the key criteria, even if the contract has to get into the $33 million plus range. Gil Meche and Ted Lilly both got five year deals, so that throws off the market. But the Mets really need to keep their contracts to as short a term as possible.
Add a comment below with your thoughts.