Where Dillon Gee Will Be
Loyal MetsToday reader and commenter “David” posed this question in the comments recently:
Ok Joe, Super Bowl is over and Spring Training is on the horizon so I was wondering what your views are about Dillon Gee going to the bullpen. A lot has been written about Sandy not dealing him.
Could it be Sandy believes Gee will either start while Harvey rehabs April / May in Fla. or, alternatively, Gee can be an asset in the Ã¢Â?Â?pen?
I reckon he could be as asset in the pen, although the Mets donÃ¢Â?Â?t pay $5m to middle relievers / swing men. Still, why not do it with Gee as he is a good pitcher. Not great, but sound and a heady ballplayer as well. I would be confident seeing him come in with a crisis and having him defuse it. At least until they can deal him mid-season or next offseason.
Finally, if they dump him for nothing then it is another sign of a poorly managed team interested only in saving pennies at the cost of wins and fan support.
First off, David, thanks for slogging though this long, cold, lonely winter with us at MetsToday, and for asking a thought-provoking question.
Dillon Gee didn’t get dealt (yet) because no MLB team was willing to part with something to get something that was readily available at the same or cheaper cost on the free agent market. As for the teams that did upgrade the back of their rotation via trade, they did so by obtaining a pitcher who, again, was either a) less costly; b) perceived to be a better pitcher; c) perceived to be a better value; and/or d) was less of a health risk.
That last point is a big reason that Gee was tough to move — and one that seems to have been swept under the rug. Everyone knows that Gee suffered a torn labrum in 2009 that never was treated with surgery. It’s quite possible that the labrum healed itself over the last half-decade, but every GM in baseball adheres to the the laughable theory that a pitcher has “only so many bullets in his arm” before breaking down, and thus they’ll always look at Gee’s labrum — healed or not — as more risky than others’. Further, in 2012 there was the numbness in his fingers that signaled a blood clot in his shoulder. Finally, Gee suffered a mysterious injury to his latissimus dorsi in May that included a serious setback in June. After returning to action, Gee posted a 5.10 ERA and allowing opponents a .787 OPS including 12 HR in 13 starts covering 77 innings. Considering the multiple issues involving his arm, the terrible performance after his most recent DL stint, the fact he’s turning 29 shortly after opening day, and just received a raise to $5.3M … well, would YOU be banging down the Mets’ door making trade offers for Gee?
So now the question is, will Gee find a role in the Mets bullpen? I don’t think so. First off, I don’t know if his daily routine will allow for the inconsistency of relief work. Gee claims not to do anything special for his shoulder, but whatever he’s been doing has kept the labrum from getting worse — can he change the routine and keep it that way? I have no idea. With the right direction, sure, but we don’t know if Gee has access to people who can properly guide him. But beyond his ability to pitch in relief is my feeling that he won’t due to other circumstances. If you’ve been following MetsToday for a while, you know I’m pessimistic about the health of many Mets pitchers (and most MLB pitchers in general). I think there’s a darn good chance that Gee starts the 2015 season in SOMEONE’s rotation, if not the Mets, due to an injury or injuries to other starting pitchers.
Sandy Alderson’s PR spin on jettisoning Gee is that room needs to be made in the rotation for Matt Harvey. That’s ludicrous, of course, because we know the REAL reason is that Alderson needs to shave as much off the books as possible, and Gee’s $5M is the easiest to shed — from both a practical and PR angle. At least, he THOUGHT it was a practical angle; it just didn’t work out that way, yet. Dumping Gee’s salary and one-year commitment was presumably easier than the soon-to-be 42-year-old Bartolo Colon‘s $11M and chronically injured Jon Niese‘s two years / $16.5M. Beyond the salary dump, it’s further ludicrous to assume Matt Harvey can be penciled into the 2015 rotation when the Mets never allowed Harvey to go beyond a 50-pitch bullpen session during his post-Tommy John surgery rehab (most post-operative issues will not rear their ugly head until after that milestone is surpassed).
But let’s forget about those two points, as well as the possibility that someone expected to be in the rotation other than Matt Harvey may be unable to start the season due to an injury. Let’s pretend that the Mets are incredibly lucky, and have a surplus of starting pitchers come late March. Such a situation would be a blessing, and put the Mets in a very good situation, because there will be at least one, if not six, teams looking for a veteran starting pitcher just prior to Opening Day. How can I be so sure? Because every year we see more pitchers go down between March and June than at any other time. Some team, somewhere, will be in the market for a veteran starter like Gee, and with a little luck, the Mets will be sitting in the catbird seat (thank you Red Barber and James Thurber).
To summarize these past 900+ words, if all goes perfectly in Port St. Lucie, Dillon Gee will be traded prior to Opening Day to a club that needs him in their starting rotation. If there’s a problem in PSL, Gee will be in the starting rotation for the Mets. Either way, he’s not pitching out of the bullpen.