With just three days before Opening Day, all teams are making tough decisions in regard to their rosters and starting lineups. The Mets, obviously, are trolling the waiver wire for an arm to put into the bullpen, but there are other players to consider as well. Here are three players that are currently on the “bubble” and could be helpful to the Mets.
1. Joel Pineiro, Boston Red Sox
Pineiro was brought in to convert from starter to closer, and allow Jonathan Papelbon to enter the rotation. However, Pineiro didn’t quite work out in that role, and Papelbon has officially returned to his job as closer. With Brendan Donnelly, JC Romero in the setup role, the possibility of Julian Taveras returning to the ‘pen when Jon Lester or Matt Clement is ready, and the eventual returns of Mike Timlin, Manny Delcarmen, and Craig Hansen, it would seem that Pineiro is a man without a significant role. While he didn’t impress as a potential AL East closer, he’d likely be a better option for NL setup than Chan Ho Park. In fact, I’d rather have Pineiro over Park — or Aaron Sele — as a spot starter. He’s only 28 and has electric stuff; you can say he’s a righthanded Oliver Perez. The Red Sox might be willing to take in return a righthanded hitting outfielder who can provide insurance at AAA (Ben Johnson?).
2. Jorge Cantu, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The Rays are bulldozing B.J. Upton into the starting lineup, and have soured so much on Cantu that they’re considering sending him down to AAA to start the season. Granted, he had a weak spring training, was disappointing last year, and is not the greatest of glove men, but the guy is only 25 and can rake. He’s very similar to Jeff Kent at the same age — and we all remember the Mets giving up on Kent perhaps a year too soon. Though Jose Valentin has had a great spring, and it appears Damion Easley will be his backup, the Mets would have to jump on an opportunity to grab a 25-year-old second baseman with Cantu’s talent. The problem, of course, is that the Rays won’t make a deal unless it is obscenely in their favor — so they’d probably demand a package including Philip Humber and Lastings Milledge.
3. Scott Strickland, San Diego Padres
Strickland has been released by the Padres, so it would cost the Mets nothing to obtain him. It seemed so long ago that the Mets’ closer role was between him and Armando Benitez, until injuries sidetracked his career. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2005, when he appeared in only five games. His last full season, in fact, was 2002 with the Mets.
While he hasn’t pitched much in the bigs in a long time, and has had several injuries, Strickland had a strong spring and is a fierce competitor — the ideal bulldog personality you like to see in a closer or setup guy. I’d personally rather take a flyer on him — a guy who wants the ball out of the pen — than have to beg Chan Ho Park.
Strickland would appear to be the most likely of the group to acquire, as the cost would be nothing. The Mets have an opening on their 40-man roster, so could slide him in very easily. Additionally, more spots could open up when Pedro Martinez and Duaner Sanchez are placed on the 60-day disabled list (though Joe Smith would likely eat one of those spots).
As we get closer to Opening Day, more possibilities will turn up. I’m betting that Omar makes some kind of move by Sunday.