As you might have already seen, Curt Schilling listed the Mets as one of the teams he’s interested in signing with for next year.
Wow … where did that come from?
Ideally, he’d like to return to the Boston Red Sox, but there’s a good chance they will not meet his expectation of a one-year, $13M contract. However, there will be someone out there willing to give him that kind of deal — after all, Roger Clemens received $25M to pitch four months. Teams don’t mind spending big bucks for proven veterans seeking short commitments.
Now, although I advocate that the Mets go after a Carlos Silva or Livan Hernandez to eat up innings, I see no reason not to consider Schilling on a one-year deal. The reason being: the Mets were prepared to spend $13M for another year of Tom Glavine. Regardless of whether Glavine had accepted or rejected the option, the Mets still needed to get a Silva/Livan guy. So why not take that $13M earmarked for Glavine, and give it to Schilling?
- Big-game pitcher
- Successful in the AL East
- Longtime veteran; provides experience and instruction for youngsters
- At worst, a solid back-of-rotation starter
- Not the strikeout pitcher he once was
- Older, more prone to breakdowns / DL stints
- Openly opinionated (or as some people say, a big mouth)
OK, so he probably won’t pitch 200 innings in 2008 … but he might. Glavine through exactly 200 and posted a 4.45 ERA, and was counted on to be the #1 starter. Do we know for sure that Glavine will pitch another 200 frames? If he does, will it be at the expense of a 5+ ERA? Would he be counted on to be a #1 next year? All these are fair questions.
Like Glavine, Schilling would not be expected to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He wouldn’t be expected to pitch 200 innings. Also like Glavine, he would be expected to be a role model and go-to guy for the youngsters, like an “assistant pitching coach”. Similar to Glavine, he’d be counted on to pitch in the postseason, assuming the Mets get there. Tell me: at this stage in each of their careers, who would you rather have starting a “big” game — Glavine or Schilling?
Schilling threw 150 innings last season, going 9-8 in 24 starts and posting a 3.87 ERA in the American League — facing powerful lineups like the Yankees, Tigers, Angels, and Rangers. A move to the NL would certainly help him maintain those numbers, if not improve upon them. Personally, I’ll take those numbers from a #4 or #5 starter next year, if all it’s going to cost is a one-year, $13M commitment.
Of course, there is the personality issue. As mentioned, Schilling is, well, opinionated, and not afraid to speak his mind to anyone who will listen. And he often says things that some find inappropriate, offensive, or just plain stupid. You know what? Maybe that’s exactly what the Mets need in their clubhouse — someone to speak to the press. For the last two years, the New York media has been running around in circles trying to get some kind of juicy comment from a Mets player, only to be frustrated with boring quotes from the lifeless personalities in Met uniforms. After finding out quickly that Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Tom Glavine, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and most of the rest of the Mets didn’t ever say anything headline-worthy, the media focused on making Paul LoDuca or Billy Wagner crack. By the end of 2006, LoDuca was clearly tired of being “the” guy to answer all the questions, over and over — and it only became more of an issue in 2007. LoDuca is willing to talk, but he doesn’t embrace the microphones the way some players do — such as Schilling. Let Schilling come in and be the fall guy, and be the guy to say the dumb things — he’s done it before, he can handle it, and he loves it.
Before you think that Schilling will say something that will rattle some cages, or cause ill will in the clubhouse, or somehow “poison” the team, think about this: he’s made plenty of questionable, supposedly damaging comments under a hotter spotlight in Boston, yet has won two World Series rings in the last four years. Maybe Schilling will come out and say some of the Mets are lazy, or don’t have the killer instinct. And maybe that’s what the Mets will need. Maybe part of the problem has been that no one — other than Wagner and LoDuca in a mid-season tirade — has spoken up, and made others uncomfortable. Guess what? Sometimes, discomfort is a good thing. Getting your teammates riled up, or angry, can be better than lounging around and waiting for something to happen. Ask the 1976-78 Yankees. Ask the 1971-74 Athletics. Ask the Red Sox of the last four years, who dealt with Schilling as a teammate.
I’ll pose another question: which would you rather hear after a tough loss? That the starting pitcher, who was knocked out in the first inning, “didn’t feel devastated”? Or “The feeling after I lose a game, I can’t describe how miserable, and the elation I feel after I pitch good is so much less than the bad is bad” ?
The $13M is already there, for “good guy” Glavine. Why not hand it to a similar pitcher and competitor, who can also be an effective lightning rod for the media?