Pitching Market: The Best Of The Rest

An article by posted on January 22, 2010

In the wake of the Angels signing Joel Pineiro to a two year deal, and Doug Davis inking a contract with the Brewers, it is probably a good time to look to the remaining free agent pitchers and determine who is the best fit for the Mets.

The biggest name left on the market is Ben Sheets. But is he the best fit for the Mets?

Sheets last pitched in 2008 when he won 13 games and posted an ERA of 3.09. He has been considered a top notch pitcher for most of his career, a career that has been ravaged by injuries. The Mets are coming off a season that was dominated by injuries. This has to make you wonder if it is smart for the Mets to guarantee over seven million dollars to an injury prone starter. The same can be said for Eric Bedard who has only made 15 starts in each of the last two seasons.

Jarrod Washburn is a decent pitcher, who is left on the market. Washburn posted a 3.74 ERA in a season split between the Mariners and Tigers. Washburn is an average pitcher, who may not even be interested in pitching on the east coast from what I hear. He is also said to have rejected a one year deal from the Twins in the five to six million range. I’m not sure he’s worth much more than that, especially if he doesn’t even want to pitch in New York.

John Smoltz is another interesting option. Smoltz has spent most of his career on the Atlanta Braves, one of the Mets’ biggest rivals. Smoltz struggled after signing with the Red Sox, posting an 8.32 ERA in eight starts. After being released from Boston, Smoltz signed with the Cardinals. With the Cardinals he posted a 4.26 ERA in seven starts. I think Smoltz is an interesting option for the Mets, but more as a bullpen option. Smoltz is more of a bullpen arm at this point of his career, and if disaster strikes, it wouldn’t be all lost if Smoltz made a few starts for the Mets. I think he would be a wise signing for the Mets, but not if he is the their major pitching addition.

That leaves who I think should be the primary pitching target for the Mets at this point, Jon Garland. Garland is in no way a big, flashy name like Ben Sheets. But Garland is as durable and reliable as they come. Garland has made 32 starts in each of the last nine seasons, that is pretty impressive. Garland is also a fly ball pitcher, who would likely benefit from spacious Citi Field. Another factor, that plays in Garland’s favor is that he pitched most of his career, with the exception of 2009, in the tougher American League. Considering those two factors, I’d bet money that he would post an ERA much lower than his career ERA of 4.42, if pitching for the Mets.

It remains to be seen what the Mets strategy for pitching is, as we have watched pitcher after pitcher sign. All we can do as fans, is hope that something is cooking, and that they are working as hard as they can to improve the pitching staff.

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