Chance of Lowe is Low

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Derek Lowe would prefer to stay on the West Coast, and “…teammates say he has little interest in playing for the Mets or Yankees.”

(Hat tips to ‘Ropolitans and Isuzudude for the link)

Of course, money can change most people’s minds about geography. Everyone has their price.

But, I don’t think the Mets are willing to overpay for Lowe, and doubt they were going to make a big run for him anyway. Lowe might demand a 4-year, $50M deal or larger, and for that kind of dough and term length the Mets might prefer to keep the more youthful Oliver Perez around, or sign the 28-year-old Jon Garland.

As mentioned on MLB Trade Rumors (hat tip to Micalpalyn), the Mets will have a payroll around $110M after arbitration. If they plan to stick to the $138M payroll they operated under in this past year, that means they’ll have about $30M to play with. But that’s a big “if”. For all we know, the Wilpons may want to stay around $120M. Certainly, there’s no reason for them to expand their budget with Citi Field a guarantee to be a profit center regardless of the team’s success or failure. They have at least two years to coast on the “honeymoon effect” of the new ballpark.

We’ve already heard hints that the Mets won’t go after K-Rod, so the highest-priced closer they might sign would be Brian Fuentes, who will probably cost in the $7-10M per year range. It’s a good bet the Mets won’t make a big splash and sign a big-name — i.e., CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez — but instead sign a few a second-level veterans and pick a few projects off the scrap heap.

There’s also the consideration of Perez — at 26, is he worth locking up long term? — and Pedro Martinez. From a performance standpoint, Pedro has been a bust, but behind the scenes, a leader and an unofficial pitching coach. Might the Mets give him an incentive-laden, one-year deal to come back as a fifth starter? If so, then they probably don’t need to sign a Lowe or Perez or any other expensive starter, but make a competition among Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Aaron Heilman for the #4. Niese and Parnell, after all, are the untouchables who couldn’t be included in a deal for innings-eater Joe Blanton, so they must be considered serious candidates for the 2009 team. I threw Heilman into the mix as wishful thinking.

Personally, I do think the Mets need to sign someone as a potential #2 or #3 — be it Ollie, Lowe, Garland, Ryan Dempster, or Brad Penny. But I get the feeling that Perez and/or Garland will be the targets, rather than Lowe.

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. Andrew Vazzano October 15, 2008 at 4:49 pm
    $$$ changes everything.

    When he sees what the Yanks and Mets have to offer. He’ll be whistling a different tune.

    But yeah, OllieP is probably the better bet. He’s just inconsistent.

  2. joe October 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm
    Ollie’s inconsistency is maddening, but he’s not much different from AJ Burnett at the same age. Now is that a good thing or a bad thing? If anything, it’s a cheaper thing, I think. What scares me more about Ollie is his potential for a shoulder injury, as his mechanics are a mess. I think he threw 95-96 MPH consistently a few years back and is now down in the 92-93 range — to me that indicates the possibility of the shoulder wearing down. However, it could also be all the mechanical changes that he’s made since 2005.

    Mechanical issues aside, I like Ollie’s toughness when he’s going well — he’s a Game 7 guy. It’s those days he’s not ….

  3. Schmidtxc October 16, 2008 at 9:23 am
    If it’s true that derek lowe would rather stay on the west coast, I hope we stay away from jon garland. He’s young, but he seems to be a decent #4 or 5 type to me, who will probably be grossly overpaid. I really think you could get the same type of performance out of pedro as you can out of garland. At least pedro would only get one year in all likelyhood.
  4. wohjr October 16, 2008 at 10:16 am
    At a reasonable deal I might prefer Garland over a more expensive Ollie. At a certain discount that makes sense in my mind, plus Garland would be switching into the NL. I think Pedro is done, but wouldn’t be opposed to the player/pitching coach role for him, again, if the price is right.
  5. joe October 16, 2008 at 10:43 am
    What I like about Garland is that he’s more of pitch-to-contact, ground ball pitcher. I know most people disagree with liking that type of pitcher — everyone prefers pitchers who go for the swings and misses — but really good, consistent strikeout pitchers are next to impossible to find, and very expensive. Garland may give up a ton of hits, but he walks very few and throws a lot of ground balls. Pitchers like that tend to give their team a chance to win more consistently, and throw less pitches which means more innings. The Mets need more pitchers like that.

    But looking at what Carlos Silva received last winter, Garland won’t come cheap.

  6. Micalpalyn October 16, 2008 at 11:57 am
    Great Post. and thanks for the hat tip. Cerrone also did a great job in his interview with Minaya. another peripheral: The Mets chased the Phils and had them dead to right but for some bullpen issues…now seeing the Phils in the WS my take to Minaya is gee…we are this close….despite having essentially a seven inning pitching staff.

    1.- bullpen: Minaya has been outbid in the past and overpayed for wagner. He wont tip his hand. what we DO know is he has asked for Fuentes before…so why not when he is a FA.

    2. – I think Schneider did well. But I also think minaya did a Minaya-esque job in bringing in Molina, Casanova AND cancel. I think changes will be made here. possibly the ramon hernandez or benji Molina fetish is culminated.

    3.- I think orlando hudson is likely. BUT i think the Yanks likewise lust for him too. I think the castillo-Byrnes trade too is very logical…with some other pieces thrown in. I can see Sho traded. I am 50/50 on Heilman (I think a change does him good).

    4. Vargas is doing fine in the AFL. I think he is 1/2 of the 5th starter slot and direct competition for Niese.
    5. I think Olllie is gone for 2 reasons: his stuff is too similar to santana, and we get 2 picks. #rd reason is why have 4 lefties. We NEED a power righty. (AJ Burnett-).

    Minaya made the statement that the FA market is thin now with young stars being locked up EEVERYWHERE. The only exception is the re-builders. (I think the brews will go into re-build and focus on braun, Parra and Gallardo and let Gagne, sabathia, Sheets et al go), as such the bids for FA have to be well scoped out. I think the Mets have MORE money, but i think on opening day we might be at 135M. I think Castillo and Sho are gone too.

  7. joe October 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm
    The bullpen would have been fine if it were managed properly. And the Mets collapsed in September more because they didn’t hit. Had Manny been around, the collapse wouldn’t have happened.

    I’m a huge fan of Jason Vargas, but every time I write about him he either craps the bed or injures himself. I’m going to try to be quiet so as not to jinx him.

    Ollie’s stuff is nothing like Johan’s in my opinion … maybe I’m missing your point. Johan is efficient with his pitches, throws lots of strikes, gets a good mix of ground balls, Ks, and fly balls, and relies specifically on a changeup and fastball, mixing in a slider once in a while. Ollie’s game is fly balls and strikeouts, he wastes too many pitches trying to avoid contact, and relies heavily on the slider and fastball.

    I don’t think the Mets necessarily need a power righty. They need someone who can take his turn every five days and consistently pitch into and through the 7th inning. AJ Burnett is one of the greatest enigmas of all time, and his timing is amazing. With those 18 wins he’s looking at a 5-year / $100M deal. Mets ain’t paying that, and good thing too because he’ll never pitch as well again.

    I’d be fine with 10 lefties if they were all good. The Angels have consistently had all righties and are regular attendees of the postseason.

    There are solid FAs available, but their prices will be astronomical. That said, I’d rather they spend a ton of loot on one superstar (CC) than overpay slugs like Raul Ibanez. We’ll examine the FA pool when the time comes.

  8. isuzudude October 20, 2008 at 7:38 am
    From Ken Rosenthal’s latest column:
    “In a recent item, I started (it should say ‘stated,’ but the column contains the typo – typical) that the Yankees shouldn’t be confident of landing right-hander Derek Lowe in free agency, saying that some rival clubs believe that Lowe wants to stay on the west coast. Lowe told me that my information was wrong, that he actually wanted to go east. He backed up that remark by telling the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that the Red Sox were his first choice …”

    This re-affirms a few things:
    1. Rosenthal is the least trustowrthy source when it comes to hot stove information. Anything he says from here on out should be considered either as speculation or as false;
    2. Again, these offseason rumors should never be counted on as factual, ever. More times than not the reporter is quoting some anonymous or unreliable source, and the information is vague or incorrect. Giving creedance to each and every report only creates a more chaotic situation.
    3. Looks like Lowe is once again an option for 2009 and beyond. I think he’d be a great addition to the rotation, but I guess that’s all depending on whether we can trust old Kenny boy again.

  9. joe October 20, 2008 at 8:12 am
    I don’t trust Rosenthal for hot stove info, but at the same time, consider that Lowe’s agent is Scott Boras, and Boras most likely said “hey, Derek, the buzz is that you won’t go to the East Coast … if the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets aren’t in the bidding to drive up the price, we’re not going to get the 4-year / $60M deal we’re envisioning.”
  10. Micalpalyn October 20, 2008 at 11:09 am

    As usual this is one of the first sites i check daily. Obviously the list is very nice. But at MLB rumors is the chatter about the pending Luis Castillo offload. The rumored Byrnes to Arz deal has died as Arz wont take Castillo, now Jose Guillen is rumored. Interesting that guillen can play left or right field.

    Also consider the comment on catchers.

  11. joe October 20, 2008 at 11:49 am
    If there is any truth to the Russell Martin rumor, I’d start talks right away …. and involve Beltran as a centerpiece to a monster deal.

    What is it with the Dodgers and their catchers? They didn’t like Piazza, they didn’t like LoDuca, and now they don’t like Martin. The only catcher they DID like was Charles Johnson — the one guy who didn’t want to stay in LA.

  12. isuzudude October 20, 2008 at 2:20 pm
    I didn’t see any mention of a Russell Martin trade in that link. Still, with how tough good catchers like that are to come by, I doubt the Dodgers seriously consider trading him. Joe, I also think you need to quit the infatuation with trading Beltran. You and I both know he’s not going anywhere. Why are you so quick to ship out a perennial .270-.280, 30 HR, 100 RBI, Gold Glove CF? Who else do you envision in CF in 2009? FMart? Juan Pierre? Mike Cameron? I don’t see many better options than Beltran.

    Allow me to get crazy for a moment, now. If the Byrnes-for-Castillo swap is really dead, then I can understand the Mets contemplating a Castillo-for-Guillen trade instead. Guillen is due to make a ton of money, but I’d rather pay him for the next 2 years to hit 20 homers and play very good LF defense than Castillo 3 years to be injured half the time and play mediocre 2B. That would allow Murphy to play 2B and bat 2nd, but I’m thinking we need Orlando Hudson. Make a big run at him to get that clubhouse leadership and chippiness the team lacks. So what to do with Murphy? I say his 2008, though very inspiring and encouraging, is not reflective on his true productivity. So I say trade him now while his value is highest, and pair him up with, say, Heilman and Kunz, for Huston Street and maybe someone else useful from Oakland. And if not Street than some other closer, as I think KRod and Fuentes are going to demand way too much money. Fill out the Johan-Pelfrey-Maine-Neise rotation with Lowe if you want to be conservative, or Sabathia if you want to go for broke. The Mets have the wherewithal to make the moves, and SHOULD be desperate enough to make it back to the postseason to go on such a binge. I’m not saying all this will happen, I’m just saying this is one plan to get the Mets back on the quick track to success without having to give up a ton to get there or wait another 3-4 years for the farm to develop.

    I welcome any and all criticism.

  13. joe October 20, 2008 at 2:42 pm
    Wow … you want to trade Murphy? Mets fans are certain he’s the second coming of Wade Boggs — they’d revolt!

    My infatuation with trading Beltran is based on Branch Rickey’s theory that “it’s always better to trade a ballplayer a year too early rather than a year too late”. Like Murphy, Beltran’s value will never be higher, and if you can get a 25-year-old, two-way catcher in return, I say do it — especially if you can get another gold glove, MVP caliber centerfielder in return — wait a few minutes, as my next post goes into a proposed mega deal that you can rip apart as you see fit.

    And btw the Martin thing was on the SECOND page of Sherman’s column. You may not have realized there was a second page (I didn’t either, the first time I read it).

  14. Micalpalyn October 20, 2008 at 4:40 pm
    Actually to me Ryan Church is odd man out. Guillen could play RF/LF and murph and Tatis (et al) rotate in. church is being hyped as being someone who would play better outside NY.
  15. Micalpalyn October 20, 2008 at 4:42 pm
    BTW…keep CB and you do have GG defense all the way up the middle.
  16. joe October 20, 2008 at 8:44 pm
    Do the Phillies or Rays have GG defense all the way up the middle? The Dodgers? The Cubs? The Red Sox?

    The Mets can continue to collect all-stars and personal achievement award winners all they want …. what they need to do is start adding a few players who have been to, and through, the postseason. It would also help to obtain players who want to play in NYC, rather than throwing money at guys who really don’t want to be on the big stage, but will begrudgingly do so in the name of cash (and keeping the MLBPA happy).

  17. isuzudude October 21, 2008 at 5:35 am
    Maybe not GG caliber, but Rollins, Utley, and Victorino are no combination to scoff at. Neither is Iwamura, Bartlett, and Upton defensively. I think Mic has a solid point. Teams shouldn’t solely be built around having strong defense up the middle, but keeping Beltran allows the Mets to hold on to more than just a gold glove centerfielder. He’s not the leader of the clubhouse, but that’s why Orlando Hudson and Derek Lowe would be wise acquisitions. And nobody questions Hudson’s ability to go get it at 2B. A Beltran, Hudson, Reyes middle-defense would be as strong as the Phillies on either side of the ball.
  18. joe October 21, 2008 at 9:21 am
    I really hope Hudson is the tremendous leader and personality everyone thinks he is, and I hope he’s as much of a slam-dunk to be a Met as everyone in NY believes.

    It would be nice to see another fresh and happy face in the clubhouse.

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