Jeff Francis Also Forsakes Flushing

You just can’t make this stuff up — yet another high-profile free-agent has refused to take the Mets’ money. The latest is former 17-game winner and 16-game loser Jeff Francis, who opted instead to accept an invitation to spring training and minor league dealoffered by the Cincinnati Reds. It was a wild, wheel-and-deal day for the Reds, who also picked up former Met Wilson Valdez in a trade with the Phillies.

As reported in various outlets, the Mets had been keeping a close eye on Francis, perhaps fearing he might pickpocket an employee. In any case, I’m a little sad they weren’t able to bring him into the fold — anyone with the guts to wear a Vancouver Canucks hat around Denver has to have some moxie and would add interest to the team.

OK in all seriousness … with Francis off the table, there aren’t many starting pitchers left on the market who the Mets can consider for depth. They do have to sign at least one more arm, don’t they? Here’s who I believe is still available, likely fits into the Mets’ financial plan, and might be willing to sign a minor-league deal with the club, in no particular order whatsoever:

Kyle Davies
Zach Duke
Ross Ohlendorf
Clay Hensley
Scott Kazmir
Sergio Mitre
Micah Owings

I’m sure I’ve missed someone, just as I’m sure one or more of the above have already been signed and I wasn’t sent the press release. Either way it’s not an inspiring group.

No, Jon Garland, Roy Oswalt, nor Edwin Jackson are on the list, as I just don’t see the Mets affording any of them. Livan Hernandez is not there, either, since he seems to be considering retirement; also, he might still be ticked about being released by the Wilpons in 2009 just prior to his performance bonus kicking in. If you want to consider Rich Harden, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Mark Prior, Wayne Garland, Steve Busby, David Clyde, or some other guy who was a great pitcher for a brief period and then blew his arm out go right ahead — but, to me it doesn’t make much sense to go down that road again, when what the Mets need right now is someone with the potential to remain healthy in the event one of their projected five starters breaks down. I just don’t see the point in signing a disaster as your disaster plan. In fact, Kazmir and Mitre are teetering on the edge in terms of potential reliability.

Tim Wakefield is still a free agent, and it would be really cool to have two knuckleballers on the staff, but I’m just not seeing it become reality. Word on the street is Wake will retire if Boston doesn’t re-sign him.

Owings is intriguing, both as an arm and as a fourth outfielder. But is he still available after going 8-0 with a 3.57 ERA last year? I haven’t heard anything about him this winter.

I keep looking at these seven names and thinking I must be missing someone, because it seemed to be only a few days ago that there were two dozen healthy starting pitchers looking for work. Help me out — who am I missing? Who would you consider? Do you think the Mets still need to sign a starter for depth or am I all wrong on this? Answer in the comments.

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. Joe January 26, 2012 at 11:10 am
    Options like Schwinden and Batista doesn’t thrill but really, people like Jeff Francis don’t offer much if anything more than those two offered last September. By mid-season, some prospect might be ready to try out.

    The Mets probably should sign some other garbage pile type starter (how excited I sound) and very well might. I don’t know who it will be, but it might be from your pile. It probably will be akin to their new back-up middle infielder: no one to be too excited about, but reasonable for the job.

    They can try Tom Seaver, but I see by the NY Daily News, he is a wine guy now. Sounds like good material for a indie film with Dennis Quaid. He already has one old timer ball player role under his belt.

  2. Mike January 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm
    Didn’t someone (Alderson?) say the rotation is set, that there’s to be no competition?

    Please, just let it not be Ross Ohlendorf.

  3. Robert January 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    Mets will wind up signing Clay Hensley
  4. Stan January 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm
    Time to take a look at Ollie and Pedro again?
  5. Mike B January 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm
    Since we dont have to worry about being good or winning I think the most interesting signing would be Kazmir. I stress that I dont think this would make the Mets a better team but a more interesting one. And at this point thats all we can wish for.
  6. DaveSchneck January 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm
    I think you left Brad Penny of the list. He is big and still looks nasty, so he could help when they have a brawl with the Marlins or Phillies. Adding him to Rauch and Francisco, that is one angry-looking bullpen. Owings might fit best, and his .820 OPS could put him ahead of Bay on the OF depth chart. And, unlike selfish Cody Ross, I hear he will handle the cream pies and maintain the bullpen garden. Unfortunately, I think Boras is his agent.
    • Joe Janish January 27, 2012 at 9:37 am
      I hemmed and hawed over Penny, ultimately deciding that his snooty facial expressions and lumbering style would not play well in Flushing. For whatever reason, I get the feeling that Penny has a perception of himself and his value that is not in line with reality and/or the Mets budget.

      But, good suggestion — his burly figure would add to the Mets’ beefy bullpen.

  7. wohjr January 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm
    I like Ross Ohlendorf! He was good a few years back, some tough injuries last year. Plus he went to princeton, and we saw how well the ivy-league pitching worked out last year. He also served as an intern on the Senate Agriculture Committee, what’s not to like about this kid
  8. Drew Lukow January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm
    Who else Refused to go to the Mets beside Joe Nathen
  9. NormE January 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm
    I would be surprised if the Mets sign anyone to a major league contract. The money’s not there. They might sign someone to a minor league deal, but why?
    In a pinch Freddie W. could insist on young Jeffie putting on a uniform and showing us his stuff. After all, Jeffie’s phantom baseball career makes a better fit for the team’s roster than a position in the front office.
  10. argonbunnies January 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    For safety net: Davies. Average K rate, victim of bad luck, at 28 his BBs could still improve.

    Back-up plans: Mitre and Duke seem pretty healthy. Hensley was an excellent reliever in 2010, so could be double insurance.

    For upside: Harden. More Ks than Young/Webb/Sheets.

    Kazmir is also interesting, but I wouldn’t consider him less risky than those other guys. He needs a surgery or a mechanical overhaul or something — he hasn’t been good since 2008. At age 28, it may not be too late.

    Safety or upside? Personally, I don’t care about the difference between a 6th starter who’s awful and one who’s just bad. I’d rather gamble on finding someone who can be better than bad, and much better than Pelfrey. So sign me up for Young/Webb/Sheets/Harden. That said, is there any reason why we can’t get those guys and Davies?

  11. Al Luplow January 27, 2012 at 12:12 am
    The implication made here is that the Mets offered Francis a contract that he refused. But there have been no such reports and Mr Janish offers no justification for his claim.

    Furthermore, I don’t see the purpose (other than just plain meanness) of ripping the Mets for missing out on a guy who’s spent the last three years going 14-32 with a 5.00 ERA.

    The Mets have been bashed in the media constantly for the past several years, and some of it is well-deserved, so there’s no reason to pick on them for not signing a mediocre pitcher.

    We’re all frustrated, and many of us are angry. But let’s keep it real.

    • DaveSchneck January 27, 2012 at 9:32 am
      We all know the plight of the Mets. However, their starting 5 include a guy that missed all last season and may not throw a pitch in the majors in 2011, a young lefty with some upside that has been unable to complete the season 3 years in a row, a young righty who had a poor second half and has a partial tear in his pitching shoulder, a 36 year old knuckelballer, and a former #1 pick who “eats innings”, with very poor results against divisional opponents. Behind them are minor leaguers who aren’t ready. They need at least one more big league option, even if that option is offsesaon leftovers, and as Joe J chronicals, they are becoming few.
  12. Mike Kelm January 27, 2012 at 11:00 am
    I vote for either Kazmir and Duke. Kazmir is a long shot, and admittedly its possible that his entire career is shot due to some combination of shoulder damage and/or Steve Sax disease (forgot how to throw). Duke I think is more likely as he was above average considering how terrible his teams in Pittsburgh were. Micah Owings is potentially availabe (he’s a free agent) but I don’t know if he’d be willing to sign for a major league minimum contract. That being said, he’s the best of the bunch.
  13. Joe January 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm
    John Maine is going to the Red Sox too. Not sure about the guy he replaced or his wife.
  14. Josh Z January 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm
    i would pick up Webb and Kazmir both are risks but potential high reward
  15. murph January 30, 2012 at 2:49 am
    I was going to say that the Mets will “stand pat”.
    But then I looked up the actual definition, and it says “to stand upright”.
    So now I think the Mets will “sit back”.