It’s time to face the facts. The Mets are not going to land themselves a starter who is not named Livan Hernandez or Bartolo Colon.
After seeing what the Detroit Tigers gave up for Dontrelle Willis, and even worse, what the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up for Dan Haren, I am completely convinced that the Mets not only are out of the game, but I don’t believe they were ever in the game to begin with.
If the Diamondbacks can give up six players including four of their organization’s top ten prospects for Dan Haren, than what would the price tag be on pitchers like Johan Santana and Erik Bedard who I believe are infinitely better than Dan Haren, or even Dontrelle Willis for that matter?
Matt over at MetsBlog had earlier suggested that his sources reported to him that the Mets were still in the Santana sweepstakes and that Johan preferred the Mets over some of the other teams that were being mentioned. I don’t know if his sources still feel that way, but I want to know how the Mets could have any chance of getting Santana when they are reluctant to either part with Jose Reyes in the deal, or not include BOTH Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez in any package? Of course I would never advocate moving Jose Reyes, but I am simply wondering how anyone could really believe that the Mets have a shot at Santana without one of those two things happening.
I think it was good for Omar to repeatedly say that starting pitching was his main priority and that he was involved in discussions regarding all the available top pitchers. He had to say that regardless of whether it was true or not. I think it was more a case of wishful thinking and putting a positive spin on a gloomy reality.
So now the question is, do the Mets really have five starters who can help the team win 90 or more games in 2008?
Much is riding on the return of a healthy Pedro Martinez who is not only coming off arm surgery, but even before that, was dealing with a major toe problem as well as hamstring and back problems. The Mets are counting on him to replace Glavine’s 200 innings pitched. Considering he is now a year older at 36, is it a reasonable expectation or just some more wishful thinking?
The Mets are also counting on 30 starts from the ageless Orlando Hernandez who is at least 38 years old and maybe even 45. Nobody really knows how old El Duque is, but we can safely admit that he has not pitched more than 25 games since 2000. That is over seven years ago. In fact in his last five seasons he has averaged only 18 starts per season.
The Mets have some very high hopes for our aging veterans, and I hope they can pitch us to the promised land, but if this is Plan A, then what is Plan B?
Besides El Duque and Pedro, it’s looking more likely that Mike Pelfrey will be the team’s number five starter and could be pegged for 22-25 starts. Some say he should have never been pitching in the majors last season and that the Mets rushed him and thwarted his development. Even in a best case scenario he is a work in progress. Can the Mets afford to throw a young 24-year old Pelfrey into the mix of heated pennant race with so much riding on the futures of Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph? Apparently that is exactly what they will do. We all know how Pelfrey got off to the horrendous 0-7 start, but I was hoping by years end it would have made him a better pitcher. The fact that he allowed 6 earned runs and walked 5 batters in 5.2 innings in his last start of the season was very frustrating. Especially when you consider it was a banged up Nationals team.
So now all of the weight of the world falls on the shoulders of Oliver Perez and John Maine. I love the makeup of both these guys. They are young, talented, and have a penchant for turning it up a notch when they have to. I will go as far as saying that I think they are the two best pitchers in the rotation. I will even go as far as saying that by the middle of the year, they will be firmly entrenched as the Mets numbers one and two starters, barring a trade of course. I do think it is very unfair to place all these high expectations on pitchers who are still young and trying to become more confident in themselves. The Mets have no choice. Maine and Perez will have to grow up fast, stop experimenting, be more consistent, and they better do it fast if the Mets are to have any chance.
I think Omar was smart to focus on defense so far this off season. The additions of Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, as well as having Luis Castillo for a full season, can only help our pitching and that’s not to be taken lightly.
Of course luck has a lot do with it. Maybe the Mets get lucky and do get 200 innings from Pedro. Maybe El Duque does give them 25 solid starts. Maybe Mike Pelfrey evolves into the phenom he was hyped to be and wins 15 games, strikes out 200 batters and contends for the ERA title. Maybe all these things can and will happen. Right now that’s the best the Mets have to offer, so let’s go with it.
"With A Little Luck, We Can Help It Out. We Can Make This Whole Damn Thing Work Out." – Paul McCartney