Braves 6 Mets 1
Getting swept was not exactly the way the Mets wanted to start the second half.
Getting swept was not exactly the way the Mets wanted to start the second half.
Remove the garland from the Christmas tree, and get Lazy Mary to pull the sheets from her bed.
A little late on this, but reporting it so you can post your comments — Ben Sheets agreed to a one-year, $10M deal with the Oakland Athletics, and Jon Garland signed a one-year, $4.7M deal with the San Diego Padres.
As mentioned in the previous post, Sheets + Oakland makes a lot of sense for both parties.
Garland, I imagine, preferred to be on the Left Coast, so it’s possible the Mets were never a possibility considering their Right Coast locale. Additionally, he has a nice opportunity to hurl a stress-free year in a huge pitcher’s park — a good formula for boosting his value when he becomes a free agent again next winter.
Additionally, former Cub prospect Rich Hill signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals. The lefthander had a breakout season in 2007, then forgot how to throw strikes. This is a very under-the-radar move that could very well turn out wonderful for St. Louis. Can’t you just see Hill suddenly finding himself under the tutelage of Dave Duncan?
In other belated reporting, you may or may not have heard that the Phillies signed Jose Contreras to a cheap one-year deal. I don’t think the Mets were ever a player for his services, and I don’t believe he would’ve been a good idea. Most reports speculate that Contreras will begin 2010 in the Philly bullpen.
Finally, the latest buzz is that Jarrod Washburn is leaning toward the Twins and Mariners.
So, who’s left on the open market for the rotation? Looks to me like Braden Looper, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez are the best of the best. Ouch. In other words, Omar Minaya best be burning the phone lines talking trade with other GMs to find another arm or two.
The rumors swirling around Ben Sheets recently have included the Oakland Athletics, which may come as a surprise to some people considering their budgetary concerns.
But from Ben Sheets’ perspective, signing with the A’s makes a lot of sense.
For one thing, making a comeback in Oakland should be less stressful than, say, New York City, Chicago, or a similarly large market. Let’s not forget that Sheets spent his entire career in small town Milwaukee, so there’s a comfort thing. Besides the smaller number of press and journalists hounding him 24 hours a day, there would likely be less pressure for Sheets to pitch if he suffers a minor setback.
But also important is the fact that by signing with the Athletics, Sheets is almost guaranteed to be in the thick of a pennant race. How so? Looking at Billy Beane’s past history, one would assume that he would hang on to Ben Sheets as long as the A’s are contending. But if things look even slightly bleak, Beane will be sure to trade Sheets in July to a desperate team that is either fighting for a playoff spot or fending off close rivals while sitting atop the standings.
So in a way, choosing Oakland could be Ben Sheets’ best decision — presuming his ultimate goal is to pitch in the postseason.
Now, if his main goal is about money, that’s a different story entirely.
It is no secret that the Mets need to acquire more quality pitching to contend in 2010 — both in the starting rotation and the bullpen (though, most people are ignoring the ‘pen part of the issue).
Let’s go over the names being bandied about.
Anyone who watched the Mets in 2009 knows that after Johan Santana, there was a large hole in the starting rotation. The Mets desperately needed a #2 starter, and some would argue they didn’t have anyone worthy of being deemed a #3.
But there’s only one legit #2 starter on the free agent market — John Lackey — and he likely will either re-sign with the Angels or receive a contract that reeks of more risk than reward.
On the other hand, there is an intriguing group of potentially low-risk, high-reward arms available — pitchers who may require only a one-year commitment and less than $10M, yet have #2 or even ace potential. Will the Mets roll the dice? Let’s take a look at them.
Tom Glavine has been released by the Atlanta Braves, just as he was on the brink of returning from shoulder and elbow surgeries.
Glavine had just enjoyed a 6-inning, 64-pitch outing in a final tuneup for Rome, an A-level minor league club. He did not allow any runs and 44 of those tosses were for strikes.
It is assumed that the Braves are not in a position to add Glavine to the 25-man roster, and in fact are in the market for hitting, and decided to dump Glavine for budgetary reasons. Glavine was to earn a $1M bonus if the Braves added him to the active roster, another $1.25 after 30 days of being with the Braves and then $1.25 million more after 90 days.
Without having to pay Glavine the bonus money, the Braves can use those dollars instead in an effort to add a veteran bat.
Are the Mets in the market for a starter, or are they going to continue to send Tim Redding to the mound in hopes he’ll come around? If they ARE in the market, is Glavine a consideration? Would he be cheaper than Pedro Martinez? Healthier than Ben Sheets? Better than Tim Redding?
If so, did the final game of 2008 erase the fans’ memory of the last game of 2007?
Pitchers and catchers have reported, spring training has begun, yet there are still several free agents still out there looking for a job. Further, there are still some holes and question marks on the Mets’ roster. How about rolling the dice on a few of the available options — especially since they can be brought in for little risk and at fairly low prices?
The Mets have already missed out on two of the most remarkable values of the offseason — Bobby Abreu at $5M for one year and Orlando Hudson at $3M (plus incentives) for one year. Both players publicly stated their desire to play in New York City, so it wasn’t an issue of the Mets having to do much convincing. And the idea that Hudson might have caused tension on the team because Castillo was still around is absolute insanity. How can a team that collapsed two years in a row be worried about retaining its personality? If anything, the Mets should have been hell bent on stirring up the comfort in the clubhouse.
Anyway, the point is, there are still a few undervalued gems waiting to be picked up, for a beggar’s purse. Let’s take a look at a few in particular, who are worth a roll of the dice.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez
Pudge has been telling people he wants to play for the Mets since last October. He’s going to come at a significant discount — probably less than $1M — and he might even be open to taking a minor league deal. How often do you find players who WANT to play in New York, and not because of money? The Mets are desperate for a solid, veteran righthanded hitter for the bench, and Pudge would be an ideal platoon partner with Brian Schneider — not to mention the winning background, leadership qualities, and strong clubhouse presence he brings to the equation.
Yes, the Mets already have Ramon Castro, but Castro has had trouble staying healthy his entire career — and it’s hard to believe that factor will change at age 33. The other argument is that Castro is a friend of everyone on the team, and keeps things loose in the clubhouse. Well guess what? Him keeping things looser and being such a strong personality has not helped this team get to the postseason the last two years.
For those who don’t like Pudge because he has a perpetually low OBP, hit poorly in his one month as a Yankee, and isn’t the same player he was 4-5 years ago, I agree. However, I also believe that Ivan Rodriguez in the twilight of his career is still at least twice as good — overall — as any combination of Robinson Cancel, Rene Rivera, and whatever other independent league backstop the Mets can scrape up when Castro goes to the DL multiple times during the season.
I thought for sure the Mets would be all over Durham, especially since he played four seasons under Jerry Manuel. But then, maybe he and Uncle Jerry don’t get along? (Yes, Virginia, Jerry Manuel had major problems with his players in Chicago … oh, you weren’t aware? Anyway, that’s for another day.) Durham hits from both sides, can play 2B and the outfield equally adequately, has some punch, can still run the bases, and is an on-base machine. He’s currently contemplating retirement because no one is interested in his services, but if a potential contender such as the Mets made an inquiry, he might just consider a minor league deal. The shame is that the Mets were so quick to lock up Alex Cora on that ridiculous, guaranteed, $2M contract, and now are committed to handing him the backup infield job.
(Wow … think about that … the Mets signed Alex Cora for one million less than the Dodgers are paying Orlando Hudson. Who would you rather have? Alex Cora and Livan Hernandez or Orlando Hudson? Tough pill to swallow. Anyway, I digress …)
Joe Beimel, Will Ohman, Dennys Reyes, Ricardo Rincon
All four of these LOOGYs are still available. I like Rincon, Beimel, and Ohman in that order, and even though Reyes scares me, at this point he should be a relative bargain. So what the hey? The Mets can’t possibly think that Casey Fossum or Valerio De Los Santos can be trusted against the likes of Utley – Howard – Ibanez.
Mulder may never, ever return to being a solid starting pitcher. But what’s to say he can’t evolve into a LOOGY? No one is offering Mulder a contract of any sort, so he might be willing to take an incentive-laden minor-league deal as he continues his comeback. At 31 years old, he still has time to make it back.
I can’t believe I’m suggesting the Mets sign Jay Payton, but let’s think about this objectively. The Mets could really use a solid, veteran, righthanded hitter who can play strong defense in the outfield and hit with occasional pop. Check, check, check. Give the guy a minor league deal and a chance to win a spot on the bench.
James was absolutely horrid in 2008, posting a 9.10 ERA before discovering he had a rotator cuff tear. Most likely, he won’t be able to contribute at the big league level in 2009. But hey, he’s a lefty, he’s only 27, and he wasn’t a power pitcher so the shoulder issue may not adversely affect his performance. Sign him to a cheap minor league deal, stash him in A ball, and look for him to help out late in the season or to compete for a job in 2010. The kid knew how to pitch before the surgery, so who knows — he might be another Jamie Moyer.
Yes, he’s only a shell of what he once was, and he’s injury prone. However, his injuries are due to a medical condition that is pronounced by playing every day. With the Mets, he’d be a part-time player, filling in at several positions and being the first RH bat off the bench. The guy knows how to play the game, plays it hard, knows how to win, has performed under pressure, and can hit in his sleep. Watch him sign with the Phillies instead and get big hits to break the Mets’ back late in the season.
Take a page from the Jon Lieber chapter of Yankees history and sign Sheets to a two-year deal. Pay the man to rehab in 2009, and have one of the top righthanded pitchers in the NL East competing for a spot in 2010. What do you have to lose?
Did I miss anyone? Post your comments below.
The price has now dropped to under $5M and only one year. You’re telling me that the Mets won’t bite, because they don’t want to sit Luis Castillo’s $18M on the bench? Surely you jest … if the Mets had been able to dump Castillo in, say, October, they might have considered Hudson’s 5-year, $50M demands. At
Well now we know why no one was signing Ben Sheets — it turns out his elbow has a torn flexor tendon that likely will require surgery.
So for everyone clamoring for the Mets to sign Sheets, including myself, it’s time to move on.
Or, would it make sense for the Mets to sign Sheets to a really, really cheap 2-year deal with incentives built in for year two? In other words, pay Sheets to recover under the Mets’ watch in 2009, and hopefully be ready to pitch again in a Mets uniform in 2010? Much like the Yankees with Jon Lieber, and the Cardinals did with Chris Carpenter, in 2003?
It really wouldn’t be that much of a gamble, and in fact, it makes a lot more sense than letting the guy recover on his own and overpaying when he deems himself “healthy”. After all, without a contract, Sheets is more likely to rush his recovery, and come back too early. Also, if he’s not being paid, he’ll seek out his own rehab program — which may or may not be as good as one funded by an MLB team. Sheets will turn 31 when Opening Day rolls around in 2010, so he’s still young enough to make a strong return.
Yes, we as Mets fans want to see the team improve for 2009, but I wouldn’t mind having to look forward to a healthy Ben Sheets in 2010, either. There aren’t many pitchers worth paying to sit for a year, but Sheets is one of them.