Options Dwindling

Last night the Boston Red Sox came to terms with Joel Pineiro on a 1-year, $4M deal. Pineiro was perhaps the most talented, currently healthy, starting pitcher left on the market, and apparently the Mets didn’t fit into his needs. Pineiro would have been a nice addition, certainly a comparable option to Joe Blanton and — despite his current status as an enigma — light years ahead of Tony Armas Jr., Tomo Ohka, and Jeff Weaver. However, signing with the Bosox may turn out to be the best move for Jo-el, as he may very well end up as their closer. The guy has wicked stuff, yet unable to put together any kind of consistency since going 16-11 in 2003.

As much as I like Pineiro’s talent, I’m understanding why the Mets didn’t go hard after him. Rick Peterson already has enough projects on the plate when spring training breaks. There’s the health of Duaner Sanchez, the advanced development of Oliver Perez and John Maine into middle-of-the rotation guys, the nurturing of Mike Pelfrey, Jason Vargas, and Philip Humber, the Ambiorix Burgos Project (similar to last year’s Jorge Julio Project), and what to do with the sudden plethora of middle relievers (Jon Adkins, Jason Standridge, etc.). Who knows, maybe changing Aaron Heilman back to a starter is on the to-do list as well. Adding what looks to be another time-intensive project in Joel Pineiro, and at a fairly high price for a guy with a 6.36 ERA and a history of arm troubles — even in this insane market.

With Pineiro about to sign, David Wells staying on the West Coast, and Mark Mulder supposedly deciding between two teams not in New York, we’re left with Ohka, Weaver, Armas Jr., maybe Mark Redman, though there hasn’t even been a whisper on him. I keep looking at the available free agents, and it’s like when you’re not sure what you want to eat, but you keep getting up and opening the refrigerator door every ten minutes, as if something different will suddenly appear, or maybe you’ve missed a jar of olives behind the leftovers.

All that’s behind the previously mentioned meatloaves are a menagerie of lost causes — Rick Helling, Bruce Chen, Ramon Ortiz, Shawn Estes, Jamey Wright, Brian Moehler, Aaron Sele, Chan Ho Park, Russ Ortiz, Jason Johnson, and Jerome Williams. (I’ve left out John Thomson, who’s supposedly agreed with the Mariners, the two 2006 Mets unmentionables, and Roger Clemens.) If those names were the leftovers in my fridge, I’d call for take-out.

The one seemingly ideal platoon partner for Jose Valentin — Mark Loretta — is also apparently about to sign with the Astros. Good for him. He’ll be a good bat and solid player for Houston, stealing at-bats from the anemic-hitting Adam Everett, former-slugging Morgan Ensberg, and aging Craig Biggio. So there goes the idea that Stache would have a strong bat to rest him. Unless they’re crazy enough to sign Ronny Belliard, the Mets will probably gamble that Damion Easley will be Valentin of 2007, Anderson Hernandez can bat his weight, or Ruben Gotay can recapture the skills that once made him a prospect.

Hopefully, the Mets talks with Ohka break down, as he’s supposedly looking for a 3-year deal. Sorry, but the guy is 48-58 lifetime, and coming off a rotator cuff tear. Even if he’s healthy, I’d rather take my chances with any of the internal options.

Furthermore, I doubt there’s any real interest in Jeff Weaver, who’s also looking for a 3-year deal. His agent is Scott Boras, so he’ll probably get such a deal — assuming Boras uses his hypnotic skills or serves the mysterious stupid potion that worked on the San Francisco Giants.

Assuming the Mets balk on Ohka and Weaver, there’s a good chance they’ll throw a flyer to Armas Jr., who should come cheaper and at only a one-year commitment. Armas might not be anything special himself, and he has health issues, but at least — it appears anyway — we won’t be stuck with a multi-year deal for a guy who is as much a gamble as anyone else currently available.

Juiced Balls

As if the Hot Stove weren’t pathetic enough this week, there’s a report that the baseballs in 1998 were juiced. Yeah, right. Where did this come out of? Left field?

Anyone who remembers 1998 will recall that everyone and his brother (and every MLB pitcher) was slicing up, unraveling, and otherwise dismantling baseballs, trying to figure out why the spheres were flying out of parks. Now, we know that those experiments were done to take our eyes off the bulging muscles ripping through hitters’ uniform sleeves. Despite all of those baseball dismemberments in 1998, some medical company came to this “juicing” conclusion based on “CT images” taken of balls. Sounds to me like a company with some fancy equipment has an ignorant PR team looking for some press. How a “CT image” does a better job of sizing the rubber inside than slicing a ball in half is beyond my comprehension.

But then, that’s why I’m wasting my time writing a blog for free and they’re making a bundle as this story rips through the media.

42 days till pitchers and catchers report to spring training …

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.