With rumors flying over who the Mets might be signing to fill out their rotation for 2009, I thought it would be a good time to look at what each man out there brings to the table. Here is a list of guys who have been linked to the Mets offseason plans in some form or another over the past few weeks.
Pros: Sinker ball pitcher, does not allow many home runs, shoulders heavy workload year after year (having thrown 180 or more innings a season the past seven years), a solid but unspectacular six strikeouts per nine innings, low walk rates, sinkerballers tend to age well, probably the best pitcher remaining on the market right now.
Cons: Scott Boras client, currently about $12-16 million difference between perceived value and the contract offer made by the Mets, seeking contract that will pay him until he turns 40, Type A free agent will require first round compensation pick to whomever signs him (which will actually be a second round pick, meaning the Mets won’t pick until the third round of the draft)
Lowe has dominated the headlines for the Mets ever since the J.J. Putz trade was consummated, as he has become their main target. Most of the concerns surrounding Lowe center around his age and his contract demands, as right now the two sides seem to be $4 million apart per season, and the Mets seem unwilling to go beyond three years. He is probably the most likely option for the Mets, and I suspect a 3 year/$42 million plus an option year which could be obtained through reaching innings pitched minimums would be the likely ending point should the Mets sign Lowe.
Pros: Youngest pitcher on the market, offers the upside of a #1/#2 starter, high strikeout totals, left-handed in a division with big left-handed bats
Cons: Also a Scott Boras client, looking for a long term deal, has been extremely erratic (to say the least), even in good seasons, will walk a bunch and allow a lot of home runs, does not eat up a lot of innings due to early exits, which are a big part of the Oliver Perez Experience, a Type A free agent who would net the team two high draft picks if he signed elsewhere
That last point might be the most important; had Oliver Perez only been a Type B free agent, I think the Mets might be making more of an attempt to resign him, since he would only net the team a sandwich pick if he signed elsewhere. But with the Mets having already lost a draft pick for signing K-Rod, allowing Perez to sign elsewhere would bring back two high draft picks in return. That is the reason why the Mets haven’t aggresively tried to bring back Perez. Then there is the massive inconsistency from start to start, and Perez’s general flakiness, and it would seem to make more sense to let another team deal with all of this, even acknowledging that he could emerge as a #1 starter elsewhere.
Pros: Not a Scott Boras client, left-handed, good strikeout pitcher
Cons: Last year was the first time since 2004 where Wolf had even as many as 136 IP, moderately high walk rate, high home run rate (which could be depressed greatly at Citi Field)
Randy Wolf would be a decent option for the Mets as their #5 starter. Unfortunately, he was just good enough last year to where he seems to be establishing a market above that of a low end starter, despite years of injury problems. At one point, Wolf looked like a safe bet to emerge as a very good pitcher, but injuries have kept him from realizing that potential. I’d like him more if the Mets sign either Lowe or Perez, but not as a fallback option if they fail to sign either. But as I said, his good few months in Houston have likely priced him out of that market.
Pros: Would be cheap filler for the back of the rotation, solid strikeout rate, ate 182 IP for the Nationals last year, would keep Jon Niese in Buffalo for a little while longer
Cons: High number of home runs allowed last season while pitching half of his games at Nationals Park, high walk rate, wants a two year contract (and might get it)
Tim Redding is not a good pitcher, but for a #5 pitcher, you could certainly do worse. He was underqualified to be a #1 or 2 in Washington, but slotted against lesser pitchers with a good offense behind him, he would probably have a nice year in New York. Personally, if I were his agent, I’d want him to sign a one year deal with the Mets, where a good offense and defense behind him will artificially inflate his win totals, making him a good bet to get a 2-3 year deal worth more money next year, where the free agent crop is thinner. Redding ultimately isn’t anything to get excited about, but would be a good option to fill out the rotation.
Pros: Mets fans still love the guy
Cons: He was really, REALLY bad last year, and is not at all durable
I think a lot of Mets fans would love to see Pedro back in blue and orange, and hell, if he learns to adjust his approach to match his current skillset, he could still be an effective pitcher. But I think at some point, it’s time to move on. We are now three full seasons removed from Pedro’s last good season, and expecting him to be that Pedro at this point simply is not realistic. With Pedro, it’s always a major question of whether he’ll be healthy enough to get through another season, and I don’t really care to go through that again. I love Pedro, I love his personality and I love what he brought to the 2005 Mets. But it’s time to move on.
Pros: Has pitched very well in the minors, will be a future solid starter for the Mets
Cons: He isn’t ready to be that in 2009
The Mets made a mistake in hoping Mike Pelfrey would be ready to give the Mets good innings in 2007, and paid for it with growing pains. He didn’t really fully develop until the middle of last year. The team likes to rush their prospects along, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Niese pushed as a potential low end starter next year, but he isn’t ready for the role and would be better off spending the year in Buffalo honing his pitches a little more, and only pitching in Queens if there is an injury to another starter. Eventually, I think Niese is going to be a part of what the Mets want to do, but he isn’t ready yet.