This week as I conclude this short series I wanted to focus on the pitching. This is probably the one area that Omar Minaya will have to concentrate most of his efforts this off-season. The Mets starting pitching and bullpen both failed to meet expectations in 2007 and barring some significant changes, it may be in for a repeat performance if things remain unchanged.
On the starting pitching side, don’t expect much help from free agency. Sure there may be one or two pitchers you might want to take a flier on, but the fact is that there are no top of the rotation candidates among them. Some fans have suggested signing guys like Carlos Silva, Bartolo Colon, Livan Hernandez, and even David Wells… you can keep them as far as I’m concerned. Truth be told, Tom Glavine is better than any of them and we cut him, so why would we want to tangle with any of those guys?
If we are going to improve our starting pitching than it will have to be via a trade. Now I know how great it would be to sign Johan Santana who the Twins are willing to trade, especially after overtures from Santana that he would waive his no trade clause for any team that gives him an extension… But realistically the Mets have nothing to offer that will not be beat by about another half dozen or so other clubs.
The Mets need to tone down the high expectations and revisit past negotiations for Dan Haren, Rich Harden and Joe Blanton. The A’s are loaded with top of the rotation starters, but they are not loaded with the cash necessary to sign and keep them all. It’s an opportunity the Mets can take full advantage of. Last season the Mets turned down the A’s offer of Dan Haren for Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey. I’m sure the Mets would do that in a heartbeat now, but I’m sure it would be the A’s turning down the offer this time around. Regardless, both teams have the resources to get something done that would benefit both teams. The Mets should make a big push for Blanton or Haren before one of them ends up in the hands of another NL East rival.
The bullpen needs some help too, but considering that almost all of them are under contract except for Jorge Sosa, it poses a bit of a dilemma. May I suggest that the Mets cut their losses and release Guillermo Mota for starters. We can then use that spot to sign a guy like Scott Linebrink who has long been considered one of the leagues top setup men until an off year in which he posted an ERA of 3.71, which still was infinitely better than half the guys on the Mets. All the Mets need to do is find one decent arm to join Heilman, Feliciano and Wagner, and they will then have a solid nucleus in the pen. If the Mets do add another starter and add El Duque to that nucleus, the bullpen becomes significantly better than last year. The Mets need to make some room on their 40 man roster to pull this off, and like I said they can start by cutting bait with Mota.