Jon Lieber Signs with Cubs

According to Ken Rosenthal, Jon Lieber has signed a one-year deal with the Cubs. So much for the earlier post … guess we’ll have to get back to the drawing board on finding a veteran to provide competition for the #5 spot.

My guess is that Livan Hernandez will require too long a commitment and too much money — though I wouldn’t mind him coming in. But I get the feeling the Mets would have signed him a long time ago if they were seriously interested.

Bartolo Colon scares me the more I think about him. Josh Fogg is scarier, because he’s bound to remain healthy and hog up a spot on the roster (see: Brian Lawrence). With Colon, at least, there’s a fine chance he’ll go on the 60-day DL and we’ll forget about him. Freddy Garcia is unusable until at least July. Anna Benson will not be brought back to Flushing, so we can forget about her husband Kris — and he’s not healthy anyway. Shawn Chacon looks like a better option for the bullpen, though he might be able to pull off a Jorge Sosa. Kyle Lohse will be more expensive than Livan.

Jason Jennings? Brett Tomko?

Any other ideas ?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. skibolton January 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm
    I’m not too upset to see leiber go to the cubs. I don’t think too highly of him, even though he has had some nice seasons in the past. I could live with any of colon, lohse, jennings, or garcia on a 1 year deal…I’d even go as far as 2 for lohse or livan. I’d hope we don’t go any further than that for any of those guys. Realistically though, I think a pitcher will need to be acquired through a trade at this point. I just don’t see any of those guys as a lock for a rotation spot, and can’t see them choosing NY and it’s pressure to win because of that. I have to think that most of these guys end up elsewhere. If the big name starter isn’t acquired before spring training, I think that we’ll see omar stand pat. I honestly don’t disagree with that at this point. I really think a combo of pelfrey and mulvey in the 5 spot will give just as many quality innings as livan or lieber will. Omar may be more willing to part with some of his prospects after the draft if things fall well for the mets. I just don’t see any guys out there right now in free agency that I would rather have in the rotation than the guys we have.
  2. whatdatmean January 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm
    There really just arent many good options out there. Leiber looked to be the last of them.

    I am one of the few that like our rotation as is. I think there is a huge improvement with the front 4, compared to last year. Pedro >Glavine, and maine + OP have 1 more years experience. Duq is a very good SP, when healthy. The problem is health and depth.
    If we are walking into the season as is..IMO, there should be an open competition for the 5 spot between pelfrey, humber, vargas, and sosa [they would never let heilman, ugh], even giving mulvey a look. hoping that someone other than Sosa takes that spot, while also hoping Sosa looks good.
    I dont mind Sosa seeing extended time if duq or pedro get hurt, but if both go down, we may not have a legit answer to cover for 2. With 1 kid at #5, we need to have enough depth to cover for up to 2 injuries at a time bc of the ficklenss of el duque and pedro rehabbing, and a question mark at 5. we may need a vet that can hold his own, not named lawerence, gonzalez, or park[still having nightmares]!!!
    Chacon & Affeldt may be worth a serious look for their long relief prowess, and ability to spot start, especially if we feel we may only have 1 legit in-house candidate for the 5 spot.
    leiber would have been nice.
    Lets hope Pelfrey stays the course, while humber & vargas fully recover from surgery, and mulvey matures quickly, otherwise, we could be in big trouble, barring any additions.

  3. Micalpalyn January 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm
    Ski and Whatdatmean: Great points.
    Joe: you missed some points:

    A. available pitchers: SP- Freddy Garcia/Livian/Lohse/Fogg
    RP: affeldt/chacon/dotel

    What do we need: A frontline starter and possibly a BP arm

    1. I agree that sanchez and Wise in tandem with heilman, Sho (as a LOOGY), wagner and Sosa could represent a shutdown bullpen. not having mota is a plus. Although the real BP problem is Willie.

    2. I agree that Omar has a luxury in that El Duque SHOULD be good for 2 months, and I EXPECT Maine and Ollie to elevate. Frankly I see Ollie getting to a #2 and at least is in the Zito neighborhood. He is 25-26, 3yrs younger than Santana and entering his FA year. subtract his meltdown moments and he could be a 20-game winner.

    3. I divorced Paulie in the 2006 playoffs watching his pitch calling…I am intrigued to see how Schneider does. WHAT i do know is that he did miracles with a really bad starting group last yr. I hope he IS as good as the hype because so far Omar has spent Milledge& Gabby-to get a catcher.

    4. NOW: We are in late Jan, a month away from Spr tng, with the above still FA. What will it take just to add Lohse? 2yrs/14-16M? I like him as #4. Remember our depth is erradicated if we do trade for Santana or Beddard.

    5. BP: Its not that I WANT to give up on Heilman, but I see him as a valuable asset in a trade package. as such I might add options (Dotel/Affeldft) in case heilman is traded. also I’m intrigued with the prospect of Pelfrey as a new Papelbon..(see arguement at Metsblog).

  4. joe January 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm
    Ski, I’m hesitant to put Lieber and Livan in the same class. While
    I believe that Livan will regress somewhat next year, I’m not sure his regression will meet the progression of Mulvey / Pelfrey. First, I don’t see either of those two youngsters throwing 180+ innings and holding an ERA around 5.00 — which I project as the worst Livan will do. But then, that’s all sheer guesswork with no stats behind my opinion … I could be wrong.

    Lieber was a nice fit because of the cost and commitment. He may or may not match the output of a Pelfrey — it’s a crapshoot. But considering that his poor performance the last two years was due to non-arm injuries, I thought he’d be a good risk.

    I’m still worried about that fifth starter. If Pedro returns to be an ace, we should be OK, but if not, we’re really gambling that one of the youngins is ready to take the next step AND that there is enough depth to cover an injury. To me, being covered in case of injuries is the biggest issue.

    Mic – I’d put Heilman in the rotation before trading him. But the Mets probably don’t see it my way.

  5. isuzudude January 16, 2008 at 2:52 pm
    If I were to rank the remaining free agents who I would like brought in on a major league deal to compete for the #5 spot, I’d go…

    1. Mark Hendrickson
    2. Brett Tomko
    3. Livan Hernandez
    4. Ramon Ortiz
    5. Kyle Lohse

    Hendrickson’s a lefty and, after losing Glavine, that’s a plus in my mind. I also think it’s wise to compile the LHP’s with the Phillies in the division. If he doesn’t pan out as a starter, he could relieve, as he had a 3.69 ERA as a reliever last year with the Dodgers with 41 K’s in 46 innings. Tomko’s WHIP is generally around 1.35, and looked strong finishing last season with the Padres. Livan is close to a lock for 200 innings, although he may no longer be able to keep his ERA under 5. Not sure if that constitutes giving him a multi-year deal in upwards of $20-mil. Ortiz interests me in that he keeps his walks down and could benefit from pitching at Shea, opposed to the bandboxes of Colorado, Minnesota, and Cincinnati (3 of his last 4 stops). I’m not a fan of Lohse, but after him I don’t see anybody remotely interesting (including Chacon, Jennings, and Colon). And I’d also sign Garcia to a minor league deal with a 2009 option to see if he can come back strong from surgery.

  6. Walnutz15 January 16, 2008 at 2:54 pm
    Wanna talk about options?

    Here’s one that hasn’t been mentioned — and while I can almost hear some of you say “and with good reason!”

    Here goes: My former arch-enemy….Tottenville High School’s own, Jason Marquis.

    Rosenthal states:

    The signing of Lieber could signal a trade of right-hander Jason Marquis or the return of righty Ryan Dempster to the bullpen. Lieber will be in the Cubs’ rotation, sources say; otherwise, he would have signed with another club.

    Speculation here from Rosenthal is that the Lieber signing could be a pre-cursor to a Jay Marquis trade. I wonder if that rumored deal from last month (Endy Chavez for Marquis) held any weight whatsoever?

    If so, then you can sign me up.

    Only thing that sucks….Endy hurt his hammy again in winter ball — and I’m not so sure that the Cubbies would be looking at this as all that great of a return for a serviceable starting pitcher.

    Granted, Marquis isn’t the sexiest option out there, but he is a guy who can take the ball every 5th day, a’la Steve Trachsel.

    Aside from a god-awful 2006 — he’s around a 4.60 ERA — and in the 5th spot in the rotation, that’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s league-average.

    Not what anyone wants to hear, especially with talk of Johan Santana and Erik Bedard….but really….Marquis is 29, and would be coming to a pitcher’s ballpark at Shea. He’s also a (very head-strong) local-boy, so the extra motivation to impress his family and friends would be there.

    He’s also durable —

    32 starts in ’04 (201.1 IP) and ’05 (207 IP)
    33 starts in ’06 (194.1 IP) and ’07 (191.2 IP).

    ERA’s of 3.71 in 2004, 4.13 in 2005, 6.02 in 2006 and back to 4.60 in 2007.

    Wanna talk about replacing Glavine’s innings? This wouldn’t be a bad start….

    I like Endy, but really — let’s come off “The Catch” already. Angel Pagan can play the role of Endy Chavez in 2008 if the Mets let him.

    If you’re not going to sign Livan Hernandez or Kyle Lohse…I’d try to pick up Marquis on the cheap in a salary-dump type deal. Hell, Matt Morris is another option that’d cost only money from Pittsburgh. They can’t be serious about wanting anything back for his $10MM/per contract. I’d take that for a low level minor leaguer for 1-year of Morris.

    Dammit — do something already!

  7. skibolton January 16, 2008 at 4:41 pm
    I don’t think you’d have to give up endy to get marquis…just taking his contract should do it. I wouldn’t give up a useful part for jason marquis. I think they’d take just about anything, as marquis probably has 0 trade value due to his contract. You could probably get livan for exactly the same as what’s left on marquis’ deal.
  8. isuzudude January 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm
    OK, so Hendrickson signed a 1 year deal with the Marlins today. They’re starting to drop like flies.

    Walnutz: you make a very compelling argument for Marquis, and I think you’re right in that he’d pretty much mirror the stats of Glavine from 2007. But I think my problem with acquiring him, or Marquis, Livan, or Lohse for that matter, is what can they bring to the table for all that money that a combination of Pelfrey/Humber/Vargas/Mulvey cannot? Why waste a roster spot and over $10-mil on a #5 starter when we have all these youngsters ready to inherit that role for cheap? And say you acquire a guy like Marquis and he stinks up the joint, what do you do with him? You can’t demote him without going thru waivers, and you can’t trade him cause no one wants his contract. You’re stuck with him on the 25-man roster, while perhaps someone like Pelfrey or Humber or Mulvey is tearing it up in AAA with no room to move up to the big club. Really, at this point, I think it’s either Johan, Bedard, Blanton, or bust. I really think we are good enough to win as is if no further blockbuster trades take place.

  9. joe January 17, 2008 at 12:43 am
    Isuzu, I like your top 5 … though now it’s four with Hendrickson gone. I agree Hendrickson would have been a good idea — if he didn’t win the #5 spot, he could have fallen into a more useful Sele role.

    Walnutz, I like the suggestions of Marquis and Morris (Morris was MY arch enemy at SHU, but luckily I owned him). With Endy injured, maybe the Cubs will take Pagan back in return for Marquis. 😉

    Tomko might be a good plan, since with his hard stuff he could potentially transition into a middle reliever if one of the youngsters step up.

    But I think Omar and Mets don’t want to rush into anything … it may make sense for them to sit back and wait a while longer before making a pickup. Heck, there’s at least 29 days before pitchers and catchers report — plenty of time to get a gem. (NOT!)

  10. murph January 17, 2008 at 2:15 am
    The Mets still have question marks all the way from top to bottom of their starting rotation, #1 through #5.
    They HOPE Maine & Perez can achieve the consistency of the level of their rotation spot (Maine at #2, Perez at #3)
    They HOPE Martinez & Hernandez can stay healthy enough to maintain the level of their rotation spot
    (Martinez #1 & Hernandez #4).
    #5 is still up in the air. They HOPE one of the guys
    (Pelfrey, Humbrey, Vargas, Mulvey, Sosa, etc.) can fill that spot.
    Still too many question marks for a contending team.

    One of the keys to a having a World Series worthy starting pitching staff is to have your #2 – #5 starters over-achieving or under employed.
    For example:

    2007 Red Sox:
    Tim Wakefield (17-12) at #4 behind Beckett, Schilling & Matsuzaka

    2005 White Sox: El Duque (9-9) was #5 behind Garland, Garcia, Buhrle & Contreras.

    2004 Red Sox: Pedro or Schilling as #2. Both would have been #1 on almost every other team in the league.

    Closer to home:

    1998 Yankees
    They had Andy Pettite #2, David Wells #3 behind David Cone.
    Those guys would have been #1 on most of the league’s staffs.
    (El Duque was #5 on that rotation.)

    1986 Mets
    Bob Ojeda (18-5) as #4 behind Gooden, Darling & Fernandez

    In my opinion, The Mets are not in that position right now.
    Their rotation is good enough for second place, but if they seriously expect to contend in 2008, they still need a top of the line starter to push down the expectations of #2-5, enabling some of them to over achieve versus their rotation position.

    Otherwise, they are building for 2009.

  11. joe January 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm
    murph, interesting point. Maybe that’s why Omar is trying so hard to get Johan … if Johan is #1, then suddenly Pedro is an exciting option as a #2, Maine and Perez have lower expectations, etc.

    Bringing in a Blanton could ease the pressure on Maine and Perez, but the Mets would still have a rotation made up of mostly #3s. That means the defense needs to be excellent, the bullpen must be closer to 2006 performance and the offense needs to score a bit more than last year.

    If no one is added, then I agree — there is a lot of hoping going on.