No Blockbuster for the Mets

It’s still early, but it looks like the Mets will not be making a blockbuster deal for big-name pitcher at the winter meetings this week. But that’s not my opinion, it’s coming from the horse’s mouth — Omar Minaya himself mentioned in a press conference that he didn’t see a major deal going down before the end of the week.

According to various sources, Minaya offered Aaron Heilman, Carlos Gomez, and Philip Humber to the Orioles for Eric Bedard. I, for one, am glad the O’s were dumb enough to balk at the deal. There was some buzz that Peter Angelos didn’t like the way the Kris Benson deal turned out, and if that’s true, I wish him good luck in trying to unload the lefty who publicly wants out of Baltimore. Oh, he can do it, I’m sure, but for a better package than that? Doubtful.

At this point, Gomez, Humber, and Heilman are among my favorite Mets, so I’m glad the deal didn’t go down. I also think that losing Heilman would be more impactful than gaining a starting pitcher who may not be better than Oliver Perez next year. I was more interested in Bedard two years ago, when he was a 26-year-old on the cusp and likely would have come cheap. Now, he might be an overvalued, 29-year-old Mike Hampton waiting to happen. Seriously, I wonder if Bedard has already had his best years — and don’t see him as an ace on a championship team.

Here’s my litmus test for all potential starting pitcher targets: would I start him over Pedro Martinez in Game 1 of the playoffs? (This is different than the Opening Day assignment, BTW … Pedro is probably the Opening Day starter short of Sandy Koufax or Tom Seaver coming out of retirement.) No? Then he’s not the #1. And in my book, Bedard doesn’t start. Johan does, as does Danny Haren and Jake Peavy. And maybe a healthy Rich Harden or Mark Prior, for that matter.

But it doesn’t matter, because Bedard won’t be coming to Shea. And it appears that Johan Santana will not be, either — he looks to be booking a ticket to Beantown. Plus, we found out Danny Haren was likely never an option, with or without Lastings Milledge as bait. Oh, and Jake Peavy is off the market, too, after signing a 3-year extension with the Padres. Heck, even Dontrelle Willis is gone, with the D-Train dealt to Detroit.

Let’s see … no Bedard, no Santana, no Haren, no Willis. In fact, there is at least one pundit who claims that the bottom of the barrel — Carlos Silva and Livan Hernandez — are not even options at this point in time.

Um, OK. Now I’m getting a little nervous. On the one hand, I’m glad that Gomez, Heilman, and Humber are still in the organization. On the other, who is going to start those 32 games and pitch those 200 innings that Tom Glavine left behind? I was thinking of Bartolo Colon as a fallback option for the fifth starter spot, not a guy to start pursuing in desperation to fill out the middle of the rotation. No, there hasn’t been any word at all on Colon coming to the Mets — which is what worries me considering Omar’s tight-lipped ship. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, two – thousand – and one (sing along, folks!). For those who forgot — that was when a guy about the size of Santa, only bigger, squeezed his way down the chimney at Shea Stadium. And on some days, Bartolo Colon looks wider than Mo Vaughn — or, at least, closer to the ground.

Yes, I advocated bringing Colon in, but that was IN ADDITION TO signing someone like Silva or Livan or acquiring a Bedard type. Now it looks like Colon, Jon Lieber, Freddy Garcia, or Hiroki Kuroda could be a major signing rather than an afterthought for an ST invite. Or worse, the Mets may have surrender top prospects such as Gomez and Humber for a borderline AAA pitcher such as Cliff Lee. YIKES!

If it’s true the Mets aren’t hot on Livan nor Silva, I wonder if Jason Jennings is suddenly coveted by Minaya and his troops? Again, the biggest giveaway is the fact we’ve heard ZILCH on Jennings — and if the Milledge trade is any indication, the loudest Mets rumors are the least likely to come to fruition. Instead, the acquisitions will appear from thin air. Thoughts?

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 December 5, 2007 at 9:11 am
    Jayson Stark from ESPN says the Mets are showing mild interest in AJ Burnett. I know we’ve been down this road before. I’m not hot for AJ, mostly because of his health issues and his ability to opt out of his contract at the end of 2008. But I want to re-visit this. According to Stark, it might take *only* Pelfrey and Joe Smith to get a deal done. That’s not as bad as the Gomez/Heilman rumors I was hearing before.

    I can certainly understand why the Jays would be willing to give up Burnett relatively cheaply. Think of it this way. If AJ has a solid 2008, he’ll opt out of his contract and leave the Jays with nothing. If AJ gets hurt or has a poor 2008, he’ll stay with the Jays and collect his $36-mil he’s owed over the next 3 years. Since it seems like AJ is set up in the most favorable position, the Jays may look to cut ties now to make sure they don’t wind up getting screwed in the end. I smell a rat, though. A package of Pelfrey/Smith seems TOO cheap, especially considering what other teams are likely to offer Toronto for Burnett. My question is, if the Mets have no interest in any free agent and appear out of the running for any starting pitcher on the block, could Burnett become target #1 by Omar? An if so, for what price? Again, I won’t include Heilman or F-Mart in any proposal, and I’m hesitant to even include Gomez, especially in a deal for an oft-injured pitcher who has a heavy contract and can opt out next winer. I would say allow the Jays to pick 2 players; 1 each from the following 2 lists:

    1: Pelfrey, Humber, Mulvey, Church, maybe Gomez
    2: Guerra, Smith, Muniz, Collazo, Carp, Harper, Murphy

    I know it sounds like I’m low-balling the Jays, but I can’t see trading a package of 2 or 3 top prospects for a guy who may only be with the Mets for one season. Still, if an acquisition of Burnett pans out, that will help to qualm the fears of the panicked Mets fans (and believe me, if you read metsblog there are many). And if Burnett can stay healthy for anything in upwards of 170+ innings, he’d certainly be a big help to the rotation. And even if he opts out, the Mets could very well resign him to a 3 or 4 year deal worth $45-60-mil, which could be put to better use than spending $48-55-mil on Silva.

  2. whatdatmean December 5, 2007 at 9:11 am
    Omar, some advice….know when to hold ’em! While everyone is going nuts about getting an ace, we have to keep things in perspective…this is the wrong time for the Mets to do so, without hurting the team in the process. Teams don’t like our prospects, not even most fans like our prospects. Reason… sometimes we don’t look past the #’s. Even if only 1/3 of the following happens, we are in good shape. 1 more year in AAA is all that may be needed, and then we may have some value here, we coud be controlling the market…[this is from what I have read from scouts]

    *Pelfrey- only 24! Was throwing 97mph again at the end of the season, and had spots where he looked great. Reminds me of OP :hard FB, good movement, control issues at times, has 1 bad inning/start. Look at how OP turned out. Worst case:can be a good RP using his FB/changeup combo

    *Humber-last year was his rehab year from his inj, he lost 5mph on his pitches. IF he get his power back…he can be dominant in AAA. Smart pitcher, that scouts still like, eventhough he is the larger gamble

    *Gomez-just turned 22, faster than Reyes, plays all 3 OF spots very well, has POP, hit .300+ in a short season in AAA. AAA mgr said he is an doubles machine bc he will take advantage of gaps and sleeping OF’s. He batted .240 in MLB after having little experience in AA + skipping AAA[he went to AAA after MLB]…yeah, he stinks…lol

    *Vargas-last year, pitched injured & lost 5-7 mph on his pitches, had minor surgery in the offseason to fix the problem. Young lefty that is gritty and attacks the strike zone. Had good stats 2 years ago for the Marlins.

    *Mulvey-originally though of as a back end starter, then raked in AA/AAA. 6 starts in AAA with a sub 3 ERA, and excellent K/BB ratio. Moving up quick, now scouts say can be as high as a 2 or 3

    *Bostick-started off cold last year in AA/AAA, after the allstar break had solid outings. He owned in the AFL. Very good stuff pitcher, still a year away

    *Muniz/Kunz/Rutich/Burgos-4 HARD throwing RP’s. Rustich is the best of the group, also was a successful SP in college, and may flip back, depending on our needs. Burgos and Kunz can contribute this year.

    That’s not a bad list of prospects, but they all have 1 thing in common. Either were injured, exposed too early to MLB, or too raw to judge. 1 year can make all the difference. Look at the Lmilz trade, it was a necessary evil, probably forced by the front office, what can you do? He was our 3rd best OF prospect as far as scouts say.
    Were not in as bad of shape as advertised. The media is running wild picking on a highly publicized team that came apart down the stretch, but led the division with a WORSE team for almost 2 years. Settle down!

  3. RockStar78 December 5, 2007 at 9:27 am
    Joe, as to answer your question as to who will replace Glavines 32 starts and 200 innings, keep in mind Pedro will essentially be replacing Glavine as the #1 starter in 2008. Of course we can’t count on Pedro to throw 200 innings, but the fact of the matter is, Pedro is more effective than Glavine, so even if Pedro throws 170-180 innings, it’s going to be a much more effective 170-180 as opposed to Glavine’s painfully average 200.
  4. joe December 5, 2007 at 11:46 am
    whatdatmean — FYI Amby Burgos is gone for ’08 after TJ surgery.

    RockStar – good answer. I may sleep more soundly this evening. Maybe. Though thoughts of Omar dangling Aaron Heilman in deals this winter keeps me up as well.

  5. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 12:15 pm
    ESPN’s Jayson Stark said there are indications the Mets have inquired about A.J. Burnett.

    He’d likely come cheaper than similarly talented pitchers, though for good reason. He’s injury-prone and he can opt out of his deal in a year, hurting his value. The Blue Jays would still demand a significant price, as they’re hoping to contend next year. They’d probably ask for Mike Pelfrey and Aaron Heilman or Joe Smith.

    from rotoworld..

  6. isuzudude December 5, 2007 at 12:41 pm
    Um….Mic….you know, my post above was not written in invisible ink. Are you also in the habit of proclaiming Happy New Year at 1 am?
  7. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm
    OK; Now I have actually digested your post, I agree with Isu. And When we were bantering several weeks ago I suggested the same, that given the peripherals (opt out/injury) and despite his cliche’s JP just wants to seperate from AJ who he openly questioned in the press reference his ‘fortitude’.

    2. Yes. He is not a workhorse. But he IS an ace. AND as you alluded to the innings eaters usually are mediocre or (ala Dontrelle) are train wrecks waiting to happen.

    3. The formula I envision has AJ, Pedro, Maine and Ollie (+El duque) hopefully fresh after 1 Aug. As such El Duque offers quality insurance for Pedro (pitch limits) and AJ.

    4. Here’s a snap shot of who we are talking about.
    http://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/players/AJ_Burnett/769
    I think if he IS pitching you have Josh Beckett.

  8. isuzudude December 5, 2007 at 12:55 pm
    Mic: If Toronto asks for Pelfrey & Gomez, do you still the trigger for Burnett? If no, what’s the best package you would be willing to offer?
  9. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 12:57 pm
    Isu: Guilty. I read Joe’s piece, but not your comment.

    Though I am entralled by your entry. It is (and you must admit) a big departure from your previous stance.

  10. isuzudude December 5, 2007 at 1:05 pm
    Thanks for the compliment (I think). Still, my stance hasn’t really changed. I was never against acquiring Burnett, I was just not fond of giving up a lot to get him because of the cons he carries with him. And seeing Pelfrey/Smith might land Burnett instead of Heilman/Gomez, certainly I’ll admit to changing my tune.

    Still, I’d like to know, if Toronto asks for Pelfrey & Gomez, who here pulls the trigger to get Burnett?

  11. Micalpalyn December 5, 2007 at 1:11 pm
    Isu: That is interesting.

    1. JP said (at mid season) that if he knew how rapidly his youngsters would progress he would NEVER have signed AJ.

    b. Toronto has good young pitching to the extent they may cut (bait) with Josh towers. Also JP has been dangling Alex Rios.

    2. That said: I think he takes ANY combination. ‘You can never have enough arms’.

    3. I like your package. But I would exclude Mulvey. I think Pelfrey and Joe Smith/Aaron is my offer plus Ahern as they need a shortstop. In Ahern you have a young (Reyes and Gotay’s age) player who after a 2 month slow start hit 313 at AAA. In my look at Ahern he takes 2 yrs at every level, but does not ‘stall’. He plays A+ defense. Heck could he be worse than Cesar izturis or other SS optionsout there? plus at minimum he is a back infielder at SS and 2B.

  12. joe December 5, 2007 at 2:40 pm
    No way I pull the trigger on a deal for AJ that includes two chips (Pelfrey and Gomez). One, but not the other — unless it’s a blockbuster package which includes Alex Rios coming to Shea.

    In fact I don’t like the idea of parting with Gomez at all since Milledge left — unless we’re getting back Johan, Haren, or Roy Oswalt.

    If AJ were known to be fairly healthy and he didn’t have the opt-out clause, then I’d probably be quicker to trade both chips away.

    Toronto needs to deal Burnett now, or wait until the end of July (while praying he doesn’t hurt himself before then). After seeing the players dealt for Eric Gagne at the deadline, it would appear that a healthy Burnett will have value at that time in ’08 despite the clause.