Rundown On Remaining Free Agents: Pitchers

With only a few weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Port St. Lucie, the Mets still have some holes to fill.

Conveniently, there are still several free agents available, many of whom have some type of skill or value to offer. Let’s do a quick rundown on the pitchers who are still available and how they might help.

Ben Sheets
No-brainer. The only free agent left who can significantly impact the Mets’ chance for success in 2010 — IF healthy. A big if, to be sure, but there isn’t anyone else who can help the Mets as much as Sheets can.

Jon Garland
He won’t be a difference-maker, but Garland is the one of the few remaining free agent with a good chance of tossing 200 innings in 2010. That may not sound so promising, but the way the Mets have been built since 2006 is like this: try to put together an “American League lineup” that can score a lot of runs, get starting pitchers who can keep the game close through six, and cross your fingers. Garland can win 12-14 games on a club with a strong offense, so he fits the bill.

Braden Looper
Stop laughing (or screaming), and see the notes above re: Garland. Now, consider that Looper made 34 starts in 2009 and pitched 194 innings — no Met starter reached either of those thresholds. And it wasn’t a fluke, since Looper made 33 starts / 199 IP in 2008 and 31 starts / 175 IP in 2007.

Chien-Ming Wang
A number of people are talking up the possibility of Wang joining the Mets. That would be great over the long term, but understand he won’t be throwing a big league pitch until 2011.

John Smoltz
This would be a tough one to swallow … wasn’t it bad enough we had to endure Tom Glavine? Seriously though, Smoltz would bring a level of professionalism sorely needed in Flushing. He won’t be the dominating pitcher he was in Atlanta, but he still has enough to be a competitive mid- or back-end starter (I’m not sure his stuff translates to a setup role). I wouldn’t worry about his arm since his shoulder is fairly new after 2008 surgery and his elbow is only 8 years old.

David Weathers
Again, stop snickering, please. Yes he’s over 40, hefty, and ugly as heck, but year in and year out, the guy appears in 65-70 games, throws a ton of strikes, and rarely is the reason his team loses a ballgame. I’m not sold on the recovering Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi being the answer in the 7th and 8th innings, and believe Weathers would be an inexpensive, smart backup plan — he can probably be had on a non-guaranteed, minor league deal.

Kevin Gregg
Gregg has proven time and time again that he’s not a reliable closer. Luckily, the Mets already have a closer, so Gregg would be a candidate for a middle relief / setup role. See my notes on Igarashi / Escobar.

Joe Beimel
He’s the best LOOGY left on the market. Don’t the Mets need another lefty to team with Pedro Feliciano? Last I checked, both the Phillies and the Braves remain in the NL East.

Did I miss anyone of consequence? Discuss in the comments.

Next post will cover the position players / hitters who remain on the open market.

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. isuzudude January 26, 2010 at 7:54 am
    Sheets definitely has the highest upside, but is a gamble on him worth his $8-mil asking price? I know the common argument for signing high-priced, high-reward players is that “it’s not my money,” but honestly, isn’t it? Consider Sheets’ salary would likely put the Mets over their anticipated 2010 budget, and would thus have trickle down effects on ticket prices, souveniers, food and drink, etc etc. Not to mention a Sheets signing would then cut off the Mets from making any other significant moves (making a trade to take on salary, signing additional bullpen, C, or 1B help). Not saying I’m against signing Sheets, but I’m just trying to bring up the cons so we can make an informed decision.

    Now, if you’re going to mention Looper and Weathers as candidates to return to NY, why not also Pedro Martinez? He’s still available and looked quite capable in 12 starts (9 reg season, 3 post) for the Phils last year. He’s not as durable as a Garland or Looper, but certainly comes with more flair and potential. Unless the bridge is burnt, I’d definitely consider bringing Pedro back.

  2. TheDZA January 26, 2010 at 9:41 am
    Pedro is an interesting option – I read on ESPN that he is keen on a full yr, but the Phils are thinking ‘no we’ll take you on for the half year again’.
    There is a tendency to bag him in with Delgado and Tatis: and needing to close the door on that ‘era’ of the Mets. The difference being that Pedro can still play his part adequately while Delgado can’t run.

    I can’t see why Garland has not been snapped up? All the guarantees Joe mentioned above 200IP around 10-12 wins (or 14). sounds pretty good compared to last yrs rotation results. Garland is a fast worker, and is a sinker ball pitcher, he’s suit Citifield no?

  3. gary s. January 26, 2010 at 10:35 am
    PEDRO??i like to read your posts guys, but imho u are both 100 per cent wrong on pedro.After all the injured pitchers last year, how can we sign pedro??he will make more trips to the dl than the pitcher’s mound.His ship has sailed.Plus in his last start he was hitting 84 mph on the gun.When he was great, his change up was 84 mph.Sorry guys, please no more of pedro!!!
  4. TheDZA January 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    Hence I assume why he’s fishing cos the Phils won’t bite on more than half a year.
    I am as keen as anyone to turn my back on the same old names and get some new blood in.

    That aside according to that tweet list Sheets has gone to the A’s (and Nady to Cubs).
    2 MORE potential guys gone…


  5. isuzudude January 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    Well, gary, I’d say desperate times call for desperate measures. And by looking at the state of the Mets rotation right now, I think we should be quite desperate. Is Pedro any more of a lock to get injured than John Smoltz? Erik Bedard? Ben Sheets? Chein Ming Wang? These are some of the desirable alternatives to Pedro still available, and they all come with their own track record of injury. Yet, there’s no doubt that the Mets still need more help in their rotation, so most likely someone from this list will be signed by the Mets. So why not Pedro?

    I don’t see how you can say “his ship has sailed” when he was nothing short of brilliant for the majority of his starts with the Phillies. Personally, I don’t remember him only topping out at 84 MPH against the Yankees, but even so, he still struck out 16 batters in 17 postseason innings with a 3.71 ERA, including 13 strikeouts in just 10 innings against the Yankees. So regardless of how fast or slow he’s throwing, he’s still making batters swing and miss and keeping his team in the game. There ain’t nothin wrong with that.

  6. gary s. January 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm
    dude, i’d rather go with niese, nieves, misch or a young arm who impresses in the spring.i understand the desparate times theme, but the main reason we are going into 2010 with a desparate times scenario is because of our dysfunctional front office.we refuse to sign anyone with a pulse.if we weren’t counting om maine and perez (yikes) to start 30 plus games each, pedro might be an option.i just don’t see how u can add an injury waiting 2 happen like pedro to maine and perez
  7. isuzudude January 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm
    I fully understand where you’re comming from, gary, and I partially agree. I wish we didn’t have to resort to sorting through the injured, the geriatric, or the washed up to bolster the rotation, but since the organization wants to rely so heavily on the perennially infirmed, like Maine and Ollie, and refused to go after or lost out on surer things, like Vazquez, Wolf, Marquis, Piniero, and Edwin Jackson, we’re stuck debating between signing Pedro, Smoltz, or Garland. I’m not in love with any of those choices, but like I said, the Mets should be desperate for ANYTHING right now. They are that short-handed. And seeing how Pedro rebounded so well last year, I would have no qualms giving him a 1-yr deal and penciling him in for 20 starts in 2010. He’d only be the 5th starter so if he pitches less than that, we have Misch and Niese and Nieve to fall back on. And if he pitches more than 20 starts, and if he maintains his level of success from ’09, we found ourselves quite the gem, didn’t we? Perhaps you see it as a foregone conclusion that Pedro in 2010 will resemble more of the Pedro from 2008 than from 2009, but I’m willing to disagree. Time will tell.
  8. CatchDog January 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm
    Time to go get Arroyo and Phillips.
  9. isuzudude January 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm
    Sheets to Oakland, Garland to Padres…options running out. Man this is going to be one looooooooong season
  10. Murph January 27, 2010 at 12:17 am
    Nice headline, Joe.
    Rundown sums it up.
  11. joejanish January 27, 2010 at 12:32 am
    Murph – you made me laugh out loud, though it took a second to get it. Well done.