The free agent class for pitchers this off-season is simple. There’s Cliff Lee and there’s everyone else. That being said (sorry if I just brought back bad memories of Omar Minaya), since the Mets do not appear to be contestants on “Who Wants To Be A Lee-lionaire?”, there is one member of “everyone else” that the Mets should consider signing. How does Jorge de la Rosa sound to you?
De la Rosa might not be the sexiest name out there. Heck, just writing his name is difficult enough. (Upper case “D”, lower case “d”, make up your mind!) But George, George, George of the Rose (Jorge de la Rosa translates into “George of the Rose”) has left the jungle that is home to below-average pitchers and has become a respectable major league pitcher.
The Rockies pitcher has improved in each of the last five seasons. Here are Jorge de la Rosa’s numbers since 2006, which was the first season in which he started more than ten games:
- 2006: 13 starts, 6.49 ERA, 1.71 WHIP
- 2007: 23 starts, 5.82 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
- 2008: 23 starts, 4.92 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
- 2009: 32 starts, 4.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
- 2010: 20 starts, 4.22 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
No other pitcher in the major leagues with at least 10 starts in each of the past five seasons has improved every season in both ERA and WHIP.
Since becoming a Colorado Rockie prior to the 2008 season, de la Rosa has become increasingly harder to hit. In 2008, he held hitters to a .262 batting average (.349 on-base percentage). That went down to .249 (.335 OBP) in 2009, followed by a career-low .235 (.324 OBP) in 2010.
In addition to allowing fewer baserunners, de la Rosa has also become an elite strikeout pitcher, averaging nearly one punchout per inning as a Rockie (434 Ks in 436.2 innings).
Did I mention that de la Rosa is a lefty? A left-handed starter is just what the Mets need now that Johan Santana might not be available for the beginning of the 2011 season and Oliver Perez shouldn’t be available…ever.
Let’s face it. Jorge de la Rosa is not going to contend for the Cy Young Award, and any team acquiring him shouldn’t expect him to. However, whoever signs de la Rosa should expect a quality starter who will eat up innings (he averaged over six innings per start in 2010, and pitched at least six innings in each of his last nine starts), send many batters back to their respective dugouts without putting the ball in play, and will keep his team in the ballgame.
As a 29-year-old (he will turn 30 shortly after Opening Day), the best may be yet to come for George, George, George of the Rose. The Mets are going to be shopping for a quality arm to help their questionable rotation. De la Rosa made $5.6 million in 2010. He’s already a better pitcher than Oliver Perez was when the Mets re-signed him two years ago, but will probably not be seeking a three-year, $36 million deal like the one given to Ollie.
De la Rosa is probably worth between $8 million and $10 million per year. Shouldn’t the Mets take a chance on this improving pitcher rather than try to patch their staff together, hoping to find another R.A. Dickey where one might not exist?
Many teams are looking to sign Jorge de la Rosa this off-season. The Mets should be one of them.