The Mets’ Start to a Finish

The Mets at the time of this post will be a games away from the All Star break and five games back of the NL East leading Braves. The focus has been on starting pitching and with the apparent signing of Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers, the Mets will clearly be looking elsewhere for starting pitching. This decision is a deal-breaker in more ways than one: The Mets have a chance to lock up their division and have a real run at the playoffs but not without starting pitching and a solid back end. (an 8th inning reliever too).

Names such as Ted Lilly, Fausto Carmona (nix), Carlos Zambrano (nix) and Roy Oswalt are being tossed around like the nightly Powerball number but there are some great reasons to NOT add any of these arms to the rotation. What I’ll attempt to do is offer some ideas on the starting pitching situation and maybe even offer some new suggestions. At the very least, provoke some thought.

Lilly seems to be a front runner to join the team as the Cubs are chomping at the bit to make some moves sooner than later. His recent drop in velocity could be a problem down the line as his fastball topped off recently at 86 mph. Can’t say I know why for sure as I didn’t hear about any arm problems. He does have the potential to develop as “that” pitcher who learns how to make adjustments and actually pitches rather than throws. He has a 3-7 rec with a 3.76 ERA in 14 starts. In his 93 innings pitched, he walked 22 and struck out 64 and has 1.1 WHIP. His being left handed and a flyball pitcher plays well in Citi. Is Ted Lilly a long term solution? On the plus side, Lilly is owed $12M (Mets would only pay $6M) on the final year of his four year contact, after which he is expected to be a type A free agent. If the Mets offer him arbitration and don’t re-sign him, they would get two top draft picks for him. 

Oswalt is an interesting choice if he avoids health issues and consistently pitches the way he could. The ‘Stros would like the team that takes Roy off their hands to give three to four top prospects, most of which would be ML-ready and they would have to shoulder most of his remaining contract. If you don’t meet his demands, he will hold the team ransom for….. 25 million dollars. Mets officials continue to say that Houston will only pay a small amount of the $15 million Oswalt is due in ’10, the $16M in ’11 or the $2M buyout on a $16M option in ’12. I’m getting dizzy. Is Roy worth what we would have to give up in raw dollars and prospects?

Dan Haren? Remember him? A solid #2 starter that has high strikeout numbers. In that scenario, a deal for Thole, Mejia, F-Mart should get the deal done. He’s 29 yrs old, 7-6 with a 4.56 ERA, 22 BBs and 115 SOs. He has a manageable contract: (Haren’s deal is worth a guaranteed $41.25 million through 2012 and includes a $15.5 million club option for 2013, with a $3.5 million buyout) Throw in John Maine or Dillon Gee in separate deals or even involving a third team and we have an arm that helps for years to come. Adding Oliver Perez to any of these potential deals (especially the Houston deal) is always an option.

Bullpen Thoughts: How about Kerry Wood? The 33–year-old Wood is 1–3 with a 5.95 ERA, with 18 strike outs in 19 innings pitched. He has not allowed a run in 16 of his 22 appearances this season. Injury risk perhaps but I bet you would breathe a little easier late in games than you have been with K-Rod. Or Octavio Dotel? He signed a one year deal with Pitt. He is 2-1 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.307 WHIP, 19 SVs, 17 BBs, and 41 SOs. Wouldn’t mind having him back to be quite honest. It would solve the 8th inning issue and give K-Rod a breather more often. Like you wouldn’t want that.

At some point, the Mets have to make a “DECISION”. I just couldn’t resist.