2009 Analysis: Tim Redding
When the Mets signed Tim Redding in the second week of January 2009, he immediately assumed the #4 spot in the starting rotation. Saying that now seems preposterous, but at the time, that’s where he fit in — even if it was by default.
Because at the time — January 9th to be exact — the Mets were still scrambling to fill out their rotation behind Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and an injured John Maine. The Redding signing came two weeks before Freddy Garcia (!) was inked to an incentive-based deal and almost a month before Oliver Perez realized no one else was going to sign him (though the Mets were happy to bid against themselves in the process).
Sit back and think about that for a moment: as of Groundhog Day, and 11 days before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Tim Redding was the Mets’ #3 starter (or #4 if you assumed John Maine would return at 100% health).
And people point to the injuries as the reason this team finished in second-to-last place.
But back to Redding.
The Rochester Rifle suffered several injuries in spring training (a sign of things to come?) and began the year on the DL with a shoulder injury. He made his first start as a Met on May 18th and held the Dodgers to 2 hits and 2 runs in 6 innings, surprising everyone and giving hope that he would be a solid replacement for Oliver Perez. However, he gave up 16 hits and 13 runs in his next two starts, unable to get out of the fourth inning of either contest. And that’s pretty much the way Redding’s season went: one surprisingly good start for every two awful starts.
By July he was relegated to long relief, but returned to the rotation in late August when the Mets ran out of Major League pitchers. He shut out the Phillies through five innings before the bullpen blew the game, then flipped his pattern to two good starts for every bad start. He finished with a flourish, going 6 or more innings in 6 of his last 7 starts, posting a 3.19 ERA and holding batters to a .216 AVG. in September.
So the question is, now what? Before Redding plowed through September, it seemed a no-brainer that he’d be allowed to walk come winter. But after that finish — which included 7 starts against three NL East rivals — the Mets have to spend a few minutes thinking about Tim Redding.
Here’s my thought: Tim Redding is not someone you plan to have as part of your 2010 rotation. But, he is someone you consider as backup depth when the inevitable occurs. You do not offer him another guaranteed $2.25M contract. You do offer him a minor league deal loaded with incentives and invite him to spring training. If he takes it, great — pencil him in for the Buffalo rotation, because he won’t be taking that spot from any up-and-coming pitching prospects anyway, he’s a decent insurance policy, and he’s only an hour away from his hometown. If he declines the offer, no problem; wish him the best of luck and hope he doesn’t sign with an NL East rival (though, my guess is he’d return to the Nationals), because you know he’ll come back and bite you.