Archive: December 28th, 2006

Pitching: Plan B

So the Mets have lost the insanity sweepstakes of 2006. Without landing Barry Zito, the team must make some kind of move, or moves, to provide more depth in their shaky starting rotation. What is their recourse and plan of action as 2007 is about to be rung in?

Here are 10 possibilities:

1. Give Aaron Heilman another shot at the starting rotation, and cross your fingers that Duaner Sanchez will come all the way back. Ambiorix Burgos, Juan Padilla, Jason Standridge, and Jon Adkins can fight it out for the 7th-inning bridge Heilman leaves behind.

2. Package Heilman, Lastings Milledge, and either Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber in a deal for a front-end starter such as Danny Haren or Dontrelle Willis. (Do not put this package together for a back-end guy like Javy Vazquez.)

3. Package Heilman, Milledge, and a lesser prospect for a back-end AL guy who might benefit from a switch to the NL, such as Joe Blanton or Jake Westbrook.

4. Give Mark Mulder a 2-year, guaranteed deal, and hope he can come back from surgery to be near what he used to be. Use filler guys like Alay Soler and Dave Williams in the rotation until Mulder is ready (around June).

5. Sign Joel Pineiro and pray he can recapture the magic of 2002-2003, when he was not yet 25 years old and seen as a future Cy Young winner.

6. Sign Tony Armas, Jr. and hope he can start 30 games again.

7. Sign Mark Redman to a one-year deal. He just might pull a Jamie Moyer and turn into a remarkably effective lefthander.

8. Trade a bag of balls to Los Angeles for Odalis Perez, and give him a shot to win the #5 job. Could he be worse than Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez, or Victor Zambrano?

9. Lock Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, and Jason Vargas in a room together for the entire week before pitchers and catchers report. Give them nothing but bread, water, and a TV set that shows clips of Jeremy Bonderman’s and Justin Verlander’s 2006 season. Perhaps one or two of the three will absorb the subliminal message and have a lights-out spring training.

10. Assemble Ron Darling, Tom Seaver, David Cone, and Jerry Koosman in the Port St. Lucie bullpen. Show them a copy of the contracts given to Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Barry Zito. Explain that they only have to pitch 5-6 innings per start these days. Have Jerry Grote ready behind the plate while these four men knock each other over to get to the mound. Last man standing gets a crack at the rotation.

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Giants Sign Barry Zito

It’s official: the San Francisco Giants owner and GM are on crack. They’ve signed Barry Zito to a 7-year, $144M contract.

Apparently the Giants didn’t notice that they were the only team going over 4-5 years / $75M … so in essence, they bid against themselves.

And apparently they didn’t learn from the many, many, similarly stupid long-term contracts doled out to pitchers that have blown up in owners’ faces since the advent of free-agency — starting with the 10-year deal given to Wayne Garland and most recently the 4-year deal Carl Pavano signed with the Yankees (gee, four years sounds short to anyone outside the Yankee organization).

And apparently they didn’t look at Barry Zito’s stats since 2002, or they may have noticed that Zito has been on a downward spiral since winning the AL Cy Young Award. Most likely, agent Scott Boras left the 2003-2006 stats out of the presentation booklet.

Way to go, Giants! The only team dumb enough to give a convict $21M for another year of public relations damage control (again, when no one else was bidding), proves that the Barry Bonds signing was no fluke — they really ARE that stupid!

As a Mets fan, I may sound bitter at our team not getting its primary free-agent target. However, I’m not so upset about missing out on Zito as I am about the utter lack of responsibility and sheer stupidity on the part of the Giants. It’s understood that MLB is swimming in money right now, and Zito wouldn’t be getting the dough if the cash wasn’t there. What bothers me to no end is the Giants’ lack of negotiation tact, which has so tilted the market that it makes the Chicago Cubs’ behavior resemble sanity, and their willingness to overvalue mediocrity.

Believe me, I understand that the owners have heaps of millions to spend — I just don’t see that kind of money going to a player of Barry Zito’s caliber. If Sandy Koufax is on the market, fine. Roger Clemens, sure. But does anyone really believe Barry Zito is equal to Roger Clemens?

Furthermore, MLB teams had Scott Boras on the ropes, and the Giants not only gave him a standing 8-count, they pulled him back into the ring and gave him a Coke. After losing two battles with the Boston Red Sox, and being unable to initiate a bidding war between the Mets and Rangers, the superagent was suddenly looking penetrable and vulnerable. In one swift stroke, Boras has been empowered once again to obliterate logic from free-agent signings. The King has returned to the building, folks.

Oh, and so much for Barry Zito’s touching article in SF Gate last week, and his desire to hook up with “… an owner who sees eye-to-eye with me in my goal to lead a team to multiple World Series championships”. Take a look, Barry — the Giants are built for 2007, with Mr. Bonds as the centerpiece. That is, if Bonds isn’t thrown in jail by the FBI first. Supposedly, the Giants were “going in a new direction” — presumably away from Bonds — and rebuilding with youth. Well, that idea lasted about five minutes, as the Giants brought back 35-year-olds Ray Durham and Steve Kline, and added “youngsters” such as Bengie Molina, Ryan Klesko, Rich Aurilia, and Dave Roberts. Oh, they do have Matt Cain, and Pedro Feliz won’t turn 32 until the second week of the season, so I suppose they’re built for “multiple championships”.

Good luck and good riddance, Mr. Zito. You probably wouldn’t have been able to handle New York anyway.

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