Downs, Crain, Perez, Mulder, Ramirez Off the Table
Since the New Year, several pitchers were signed to contracts by teams other than the New York Mets. Let’s quickly review them.
LOOGY Scott Downs signed a one-year, $4M deal with the Chicago White Sox. Downs has put together seven consecutive seasons of excellent work as a lefty specialist, going back to his breakout 2007 with the Blue Jays as a 31-year-old. Downs will be 38 by Opening Day, and it’s interesting to see the ChiSox add him to their rebuilding plan; I expected him to find employment with a playoff contender such as the Nationals after posting a 2.49 ERA splitting the year between the Angels and Braves in 2013. But, he was rocked in his move to the NL, battered to a 1.93 WHIP in 25 games with Atlanta; I imagine that horrid finish scared off some suitors.
Would the Mets have considered Downs for their bullpen? I doubt it, especially considering the cost. However, what MIGHT interest the Mets is the lefty the White Sox designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Downs — Santos Rodriguez. The 6’6″ Rodriguez just celebrated his 26th birthday on January 2 (some gift, being DFA’d) and has struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings in his seven-year career as a pro — including over 13 K/9 in AAA last year. Why would the White Sox give up on such a strikeout artist? Well, he’s also walked 5.6 batters per 9 IP, including 9.9 walks per nine in AAA last year. Oh. But still, a lefty who is 6’6″, can touch 98 MPH, and only 26 years old might be worth picking up — it took Scott Downs until he was 31 to “figure it out,” after all.
Another specialist, ROOGY Jesse Crain, agreed to a one-year deal with the Astros; financial terms were not announced. Crain made the AL All-Star team last year but his season ended prematurely due to a shoulder strain.
Former Cleveland closer Chris Perez signed a one-year, $2.3M deal with the Dodgers, though it could be worth up to $8M with incentives. Perez saved 25 games for the Indians last year, but struggled mightily in the final two months of the season. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 95.5 MPH as a rookie in 2008 to 92.8 MPH in 2013, and suffered shoulder woes that put him on the DL last year; he also was arrested for marijuana possession in June.
Mark Mulder will attempt his Paco Rodriguez-inspired comeback with the Los Angeles California Compton Creek Angels of Anaheim Orange County. I’m anxious to see if his new mechanics will be any safer for his shoulder than his previous style.
Finally, you might be interested to know that former Met Ramon Ramirez has signed a minor-league deal with the Seattle Mariners.
What do you think? Should the Mets have been in play for any of these arms? Why or why not?