Now that the Mets have signed K-Rod, is it time to pack up and get ready for next year? Of course not. The Mets have a lot of work to do before Spring Training opens in Port St. Lucie next February. Right now, the starting rotation goes 3 deep. Much of last year’s bullpen is still on the roster. Luis Castillo remains, as does the catching platoon that never got going last year. There are still things to do. Let’s take a look at what else they might be thinking about
Ken Rosenthal from FoxSports.com is saying that the Aaron Heilman for Huston Street trade is off the table for now. This is disappointing to me – I was really hoping the Mets could figure out a way to make this one work. Street would be the perfect set-up man, and would be valuable insurance in case the drop in velocity does mean K-Rod is hurting. Another potential option is Matt Capps of the Pirates, but the Mets are balking at adding Jonathan Niese, and rightfully so – even if his ceiling isn’t particularly high, he should be a good, cheap mid-rotation starter no later than 2010, and Omar Minaya has shown in the past how much he values cheap starting pitching.
I do think at some point, Heilman is going to get moved, and he’s either going to bring back another reliever from a team that wants him to start, or a starting pitcher from a team that wants him to setup. My gut tells me the former is more likely in this case, I just don’t know what his value is by himself. I do think the Mets may have made a mistake in balking at including Feliciano in a trade for Street; Feliciano isn’t particularly young and is likely working his way into strict lefty specialist territory. With Scott Schoeneweis already on the roster and likely untradeable, the Mets should have acted on that one when they had the chance. Too bad.
This one is tricky. The Mets obviously weren’t getting CC Sabathia. At this point, AJ Burnett has probably priced himself out of their grasp, and Derek Lowe is on his way, though the Mets are talking to Boras today. Who does that leave as the best starting pitcher in their price range? It might wind up with the Mets bringing back Oliver Perez. I will admit, at first I wasn’t a huge fan of bringing back Ollie, but with the way the market is going, it might not be a bad gamble. Sure, he will continue to drive Mets fans crazy, and he had periods where he flat-out stunk in 2008, but who else is out there? Jon Garland? Randy Wolf? Ben Sheets, who will spend a good chunk of his next contract on the DL? There are no easy answers here, and the Mets need somebody halfway decent in case Maine isn’t healthy.
Jon Niese is right now nominally the Mets’ #5 starter, but to say I don’t think he’s ready is an understatement. Until he pitches in AAA, and shows he can get AAA hitters out, I think the Mets need to look at him as a contingency plan in case one of their other starters gets hurt. The thing about Omar Minaya, though, is that he has shown a reluctance to overpay for low-end rotation help, so don’t expect a Wolf or even perhaps a Brad Penny here – expect either a trade or a minor league deal for somebody who can compete with Niese for the last spot in the rotation. Personally, I’d like to see a more established, good pitcher in camp, but payroll simply may not allow for that.
I think the Mets are stuck with Castillo here. I wish it weren’t true, even if I’m not personally a huge Orlando Hudson guy, but I don’t see how the Mets could get out from under the Castillo contract. Incidentally…who do you think would blink first on a Castillo for Andruw Jones trade request? Right now they are paying Castillo $18 over 3 years. Andruw would require one year at $18 million, and if nothing else, would give the Mets right-handed power in the lower part of the lineup and good outfield defense. Both could use a change of scenery. I know most Mets fans have no love for Andruw, but as a #6 hitter and left fielder, he might not be a bad option. Then the Mets could sign Hudson to play second and use Tatis and Murphy as super subs. I think it’s not a bad idea.
Not a lot of movement here. There are some interesting options available, but most of them are defensive nightmares, and it appears that Omar Minaya covets good defense, particularly since it is unsure how Citi Field will play defensively. If he wants power, there’s plenty out there; Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, and the big name of course is Manny Ramirez. I wonder if the Mets will continue to steer clear of Manny even as other teams show little interest. If they could do this one short-term, 2-3 years, it might not be a bad gamble. Alas, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
Ever since early talk had the Mets interested in trading Brian Schneider to the Red Sox and signing Jason Varitek, there hasn’t been much talk about the Mets and the catcher position. That trade might have caused me to heave something out a window, so much would I hate it – Varitek is utterly finished. I don’t expect the Mets to do anything at catcher before opening day, but a transaction wouldn’t catch me totally off-guard either – there just isn’t much out there.
So what’s actually going to happen? Heck if I know. They have to get another starting pitcher. Oliver Perez makes the most sense, even if 4-5 more years of wavering between Good Ollie and Bad Ollie is enough to cause me to break out into hives. Aaron Heilman will probably be moved, likely to a team that wants him to start and can spare a setup guy. Luis Castillo will likely be back to torture Mets fans, as will the catching platoon. Mets fans might dream of seeing Manny Ramirez in Blue And Orange, but it likely won’t happen. Keep an eye out on pitching the next few weeks, and don’t be too shocked if the Mets figure out a way to get another decent bat over here. The Winter Meetings may be over, but the Mets roster reshuffling continues.