Tag: paul maholm

Free Agent Targets: Starting Pitchers

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

Starting Pitchers

The Mets would like a veteran starting pitcher to anchor a young, Matt Harveyless rotation in 2014. Not really an ace, just someone to eat innings while Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, and Noah Syndergaard grow into the top-tier starters the team thinks they can be.

Tim Hudson, 38, RHP – Hudson should be fully recovered from his ankle injury (inflicted accidentally by Eric Young) by Opening Day. He had a 3.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP before going down. He’s coming off a 4-year, $36 million deal, and should be affordable.

Paul Maholm, 31, LHP – Aside from Jon Niese, the Mets are thin on left-handed starting pitchers at the major league level, and the high minors. Maholm would give them a decent lefty arm for 150 innings or so. He wasn’t great against right-handed batters, but he held lefties to a .226/.262/.297 slash line. His last contract was 2 years, $11.25 million.

Scott Feldman, 30, LHP – Feldman is a more intriguing lefty. Once a prospect for the Texas Rangers, he started 2013 with the Cubs, and finished with the Orioles. According to MLBTR, the O’s are keen on keeping Feldman, and are looking at a 2-year, $17 million contract. If he falls through the cracks, however, he and his 2013 ERA of 3.86 and WHIP of 1.18 would be welcome in the Mets rotation.

Scott Kazmir, 29, LHP – Perhaps a return home for the prodigal son is in order? After several years of injury and ineffectiveness, Kazmir rebounded to post a 4.04 ERA, 1.32 ERA, and a 9.2 SO/9 ratio with the Cleveland Indians. Given his injury history, however, he’s still a question mark.

Aaron Harang, 35, RHP – Harang threw his final 23 innings of 2013 with the Mets, and had a 3.52 ERA and a 10.2 SO/9 ratio. However, he also walked an average of 4.7 batters per 9 innings. He looked sharp enough to be considered for a return. His last contract was 2-years, $12 million, but he may be available for less than that.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 33, RHP – Matsuzaka spent his last 38.2 innings of 2013 with the Mets. Early on, he walked a lot of batters and took forever to deliver the ball to home plate, both hallmarks of Dice-K’s career, but in his last 4 starts, he went 26.1 innings, won 3 games, and had a 1.37 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .461 OPS. He’s still a gamble, but he might be worth another look if they can sign him on the cheap.

Dan Haren, 33, RHP – Haren had a bad year in 2013. He had a 4.67 ERA and 4.09 FIP. However, he still struck out 8 batters per 9 innings, and had a 1.23 WHIP. His fastball velocity is down from the level it was in his halcyon days, but good pitchers figure out how to pitch without their best stuff. He’s coming off a 1-year, $13 million contract. If he asks for anywhere near that, the Mets should pass.

The Mets would be wise not to spend a large percentage of whatever offseason budget they have on starting pitchers. They have some organizational depth (as long as they don’t trade any of it), even if it’s somewhat inexperienced. They have more glaring holes to fill at other positions.

Coming up next: Free agent relief pitchers.

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Tonight’s Mets Lineup vs. Pirates

Here is the lineup the Mets will send to bat against Pirates lefthanded starting pitcher Paul Maholm:

Jose Reyes SS
Justin Turner 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Angel Pagan CF
Jason Bay LF
Ronny Paulino C
Daniel Murphy 1B
Ruben Tejada 2B
Mike Pelfrey P

Jason Bay moves to the 5-hole after hitting a groundball single and a sac fly; is that a move to boost his confidence? I might prefer lefty killer Ronny Paulino a slot higher. Interesting to see Dan Murphy in the lineup against the lefty and hitting so low in the order. If you think he can hit lefties, then why put him so low? If you’re not sure, why not get Lucas Duda in there? Puzzling.

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Pirates Making Deadline Deals

Seems that everyone in baseball is getting involved in the excitement of the annual trade deadline … heck, even the Pittsburgh Pirates are wheeling and dealing.

This morning, the Bucs sent Ryan Church (remember him?), Bobby Crosby, and D.J. Carrasco to Arizona (well, technically, they’re being “sent” to New York from St. Louis) in return for Chris Snyder and a minor leaguer.

Seems like an unusual trade for both sides — how often do you see two “sellers” hook up to make a deadline deal? The Pirates get a talented catcher who has been saddled with chronic back issues to add to a stable of backstops that already includes Jason Jaramillo and the similarly injury-prone Ryan Doumit. Doumit recently was placed on the DL with a mild concussion.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks get three over-30 veterans who are unlikely to be with the club next season. Both Church and Crosby have been terrible offensively in limited action with the Bucs, but Carrasco has been more than passable in a middle-relief role, sporting a 3.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 45 Ks / 22 BB in 56 IP.

Over the winter, I suggested that Crosby would’ve been a more efficient idea to be the utilityman than Alex Cora, and advocated him again when Jose Reyes went down. Despite the .220 average he’s posted with the Pirates, I stand by my original thoughts. Why? Because his monetary cost is half that of Cora and he doesn’t have an option kicking in for 2011. Further, his rancid .595 OPS is still about 60 points better than Cora, he’s shown some HR power in the past, and he can capably play all 4 infield positions. Crosby may not be a future manager some day, but he might have a few more granules of grit.

Not sure why I’m ranting about Bobby Crosby — it’s not like he would’ve made a difference on the 2010 Mets.

Carrasco, on the other hand, might have been a welcome addition to the Mets’ bullpen right now. I realize that the relief corps has been surprisingly good since the All-Star Exhibition, but we will be seeing more performances similar to Raul Valdes‘ last night as the arms get more worn and exposed. I’m a little surprised that the Mets haven’t yet acquired a low-cost, obtainable, usable reliever such as Carrasco. Though, I suppose that’s because Ryota Igarashi and Sean Green will be ready to return any day now (joy!).

Snyder used to be intriguing for his defensive prowess and power potential, but now that he’s closing in on age 30, there isn’t much hope for significant improvement. He could fall into the Rod Barajas category (little value when not slugging homeruns) or possibly sneak up into Miguel Olivo level (some value when not hitting homers).

The Pirates may be in the news again before the day is done, as the names Paul Maholm, Octavio Dotel, and Javier Lopez are being bandied about. Must be fun to be a Bucs fan this time every year.

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Mets Game 29: Win Over Pirates

Mets 10 Pirates 1

Even without the managerial genius of their fearless leader, the Mets were able to paste a AAA club.

With the suspended gangsta Jerry Manuel enjoying cocktails with fellow playa Omar Minaya in a fly suite behind home plate, Sandy Alomar Sr. directed the Mets to hit, hit, hit, and hit some more. And hit they did, pummeling the Pirates for 17 hits and 10 runs. The biggest blow came off the bat of Carlos Beltran, who blasted his sixth homer of the season.

John Maine cruised through six easy innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. The only run he gave up came on a solo homer by opposing pitcher Paul Maholm, who probably should have switched places with first baseman Adam LaRoche prior to the fourth inning. After all, Maholm looked better at the plate than LaRoche, and LaRoche couldn’t have done any worse tossing the “La Lob” his dad taught him.

Notes

Seven of the Mets’ eight starting position players collected at least two hits. The long-swinging Ramon Castro was the only starter to go hitless, though his short-stroking replacement Omir Santos came in late and drilled a double. Castro left the game with a tight quad. Uh oh, where’s Robinson Cancel?

The Buccos made it easy on Maine, swinging through his high fastballs all day. Maine’s command looked a little better compared to his last start, but I still believe he will struggle against a more disciplined lineup. Of course, it’s possible that such a lineup does not exist in the National League, in which case I should shut the hell up and enjoy watching Maine without passing judgment. Who cares if his shoulder blows out again? That’s what surgeons are for!

Brian Stokes finally made an appearance, his first since April 28th. Apparently he CAN be trusted with a nine-run lead.

The Mets have won six games in a row and seven of their last ten.

Next Game

The Mets finish destroying the collective confidence of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PM. Livan Hernandez faces Ian Snell.

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Mets – Pirates Quick Preview

pirates-logoThe Pirates shove into Flushing for a three-game set with the Metropolitans … though I doubt they’ll arrive by ship. They do, however, come battle-scarred.

After a surprising 11-7 start, the Bucs have lost their sixth consecutive game and nine out of their last ten, and now sit just above the lowly Astros in second-to-last place in the NL Central with a 12-16 record. In those last ten contests, they’re hitting .188 with three home runs, averaging just a hair above three runs a game. Their pitching hasn’t been much better — they’ve allowed 56 runs over the last ten.

As if all that weren’t enough stacked against the Pirates, their closer Matt Capps is battling a sore right elbow and likely won’t be able to pitch until Sunday. Backup closer Craig Hansen is stuck on the DL.

Bottom line? This is a gift for the Mets, who should feast this weekend. Pittsburgh is a bad team going through a tough time — an ideal opportunity for the Mets to take control of their destiny.

Game One: Jonathan Niese (0-0) vs. Jeff Karstens (1-1, 5.85 ERA)
Niese had an unsightly 7+ ERA through his first four starts in Buffalo, but put together six shutout innings last Friday against Louisville, earning him a spot start this evening. (Louisville is second in the league in HRs and has a .255 team batting average, for what it’s worth.) Karstens has made it to the 6th inning only once in four starts this year. He has walked 13 and struck out 9.

Game Two: John Maine (2-2, 5.20 ERA ) vs. Paul Maholm (3-0, 2.97 ERA)
After two straight losses and a no-decision to start the season, Maine has won his last two starts. However, he’s walked 18 batters in 27 innings and his command has been nonexistent. Against the free-swinging Bucs, though, he should be fine. Maholm is the Pirates’ ace and could give the Mets problems, particularly the lefties, who are hitting .133 against him this year.

Game Three: Livan Hernandez vs. Ian Snell (1-4, 4.50 ERA)
This will be an educational game to watch in that we should experience a stark constrast in efficiencies. Livan, if he’s on, will pitch to contact, induce ground balls, and get through innings with ten pitches or less. Snell, regardless of whether he’s on or not, will expend pitches like there’s no tomorrow in an effort to strike out every hitter he faces. It’s entirely possible that Snell will throw more pitches in one inning than Livan throws through four. Snell has walked 23 and struck out 22 in 34 innings.

Closing Thoughts

If the Mets batters are willing to take a strike in games 1 and 3, they are virtually guaranteed a series win. The Pirates’ lineup is slumping, young, undisciplined, and missing the bats of Jack Wilson and Ryan Doumit, and are ideal fodder for Maine and Hernandez. Friday night’s opener is something of a crapshoot, but I like Niese’s chances against Pittsburgh’s lefty-heavy lineup. A sweep is not out of the question, and could catapult the Mets into first place with the Braves and Phillies locking horns this weekend.

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