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.
For those like me who were a bit unhappy the Mets didn’t get anything from the Yankees for Gonzalez Germen other than cash, it appears that if this guy turns out to be good a number of other teams will have egg on their face in addition to the Mets.
So even if Gee had no health concerns, and had a huge amounts of “bullets in his arm”, he isn’t going to be the sixth starter and long reliever out of the bullpen for the Mets when the misers known as the Wilpons are the team owners.
That sixth starter / long reliever role will be filled by Carlos Torrez and/or Rafael Montero, guys who are making major league minimum.
This is the Ike Davis situation all over again: Alderson has a player he doesn’t want, but he isn’t happy with what other teams are offering. So Alderson stands pat with the player all offseason, and will stand pat through spring training if he still hasn’t found an offer he likes, and ultimately he will trade the player for the best offer at or around Opening Day.
This is exactly what happened with Ike.
So maybe Gee “will be in the starting rotation for the Mets” but it won’t be for more than one week maximum in my opinion unless Harvey or another Mets starter is injured in spring training. Again, this is the Ike Davis deal all over again.
What Alderson is hoping for is that some team loses a starting pitcher to injury, and calls him and says “You know, I changed my mind. I’m okay with moving forward with one of the guys you asked for.”
After all those big names were thrown around for Ike – and by “big” I mean guys relatively high on the other teams prospect lists – Ike was ultimately traded for a AAAA reliever and a 17 year old project lefthander who I think the Pirates soured on quickly after drafting him in the second round of the previous year’s draft.
The same thing is going to happen here, and unless multiple teams suffer injuries and demand for 5th starter types suddenly exceeds supply, then Alderson will be lucky to get a decent deal for Gee, who Janish correctly describes as a 5th starter type who is no longer cheap and who is an injury risk.
On an ancillary note in a perfect world, Syndergaard and Matz put pressure on Alderson to deal Colon and Niese sometime after June. I’m not so sure the Mets will be in the playoff hunt this year despite what all of their management and players are saying; if they are out of the race come late July, then expect to see Colon, Niese, and Murphy all dealt as the Mets add Syndergaard and Matz to the rotation and re-position for 2016. If Colon isn’t hurt and pitches decently in 2015, he’ll become more attractive as the season goes on and Colon has less and less money remaining on the last year of his contract.
“..if they are out of the race come late July, then expect to see Colon, Niese, and Murphy all dealt as the Mets add Syndergaard and Matz to the rotation AND HERRERA AT 2B and re-position for 2016.”
The Mets infield defense won’t be nearly as bad if they have a “real” 2B to pair with Flores’ below average defense. Right now, with Murphy at 2B and Flores at SS, the Mets are extremely porous up the middle but again I think Flores at SS isn’t nearly as big a problem if a “real” (maybe better written “natural”) 2Bman such as Herrera replaces Murphy.
Mets: Montero in April, Sydergaard thereafter.
Everyone else: Chris Young, Roberto-Fausto Carmona-Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Joe Saunders and maybe Franklin Morales.
There’s no guarantee that the Mets get good value for Dillon Gee, starting pitcher.
At the same time, the Mets project to feature a below-average bullpen. Although all starting pitchers are much more effective the first and second time through a lineup, that’s been especially true for Gee. Throwing 15 pitches every day probably isn’t in his best interests, but he could be a very effective 3-inning guy to use when starters get knock around early, or to save the rest of the ‘pen guys when they’ve been worked heavily. If the Mets have any creativity at all, this might eventually occur to them.
If the Mets do trade a starting pitcher, I suspect Colon would be the smarter bet. Just eat the difference between his and Gee’s salary. Some team out there surely wants Colon for $5.3 mil — he is probably the safest bet to not be terrible of anyone I’ve listed.
I am not saying Gee can be the second coming of Dennis Eckersley or Adam Wainwright, but he sure as heck can be the second coming of Darren Oliver, Roger McDowell, or any other number of handy guys the Mets have used out of the pen over the years.
That, and the fact we have a bunch of flame throwers (except for Mejia, who I love), makes me wonder. Probably a waste to even do that but we have to live in hope, right?