Archive: October 4th, 2007

Free Agent Relief: Thin Market

It’s no grand discovery that the 2007 Mets bullpen sprung some leaks. We’ve gone over it here (and here) and it’s been beaten to death by every pundit, sportswriter, and blogger covering the Mets.

Obviously, the Mets will take steps this winter to shore up the bullpen. Presumably, they’d start by checking out the free-agents available. Unfortunately, it won’t take long to peruse — it’s a thin market.

I’ve gone over the potential free agent list a dozen times, thinking maybe I missed something. But every time I look, I see the same so-so names.

Closers

I could be wrong, but I simply don’t see the Mets shelling out closer money for an 8th-inning guy. And if I’m wrong, I also don’t see a potential closer taking a setup role. But, I’ve been wrong before, so here are the closers who could potentially be on the market (in no particular order):

  • Eric Gange
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Joe Nathan
  • Armando Benitez
  • Jason Isringhausen
  • Todd Jones
  • Bob Wickman
  • Joe Borowski
  • Octavio Dotel (doh-TEEL, if Rickey returns)
  • Francisco Cordero
  • Al Reyes

Mo’s not coming, forget it. There’s a better chance of Benitez returning than Izzy, so forget that idea as well. The Twins have an option on Nathan, so cross him off too. Todd Jones is turning into Bob Wickman, and Wickman was a free bird who the Mets passed on. Gagne and Dotel are both health questions, and Gagne has flopped in the setup role for Boston. Regardless, I like Dotel, but he has the option to return to the Braves. Cordero is going to get serious closer money from someone, to be a closer. I love Joe Borowski — used to catch for him in the offseasons — but that doesn’t cloud my opinion that he is Bayonne’s version of Bob Wickman. And he’ll probably find a team who wants him to close (in addition, the Indians have an option for ’08 which they may exercise). Al Reyes? Please. Like Borowski, he’s 37 and “closer” to 40 than being a reliable setup man. Plus, Tampa Bay has an option on Reyes for next year. It’s possible Mo, Gagne, and the ‘cisco kid will be the only legit closers on the market — which can’t hurt their contract demands.

Setup Relievers

  • Scott Linebrink
  • Joel Pineiro
  • Antonio Alfonseca
  • Shawn Chacon
  • Scott Eyre
  • Jeremey Affeldt
  • Doug Brocail
  • LaTroy Hawkins
  • Matt Herges
  • Jorge Julio
  • Roberto Hernandez
  • Byung-Hyun Kim
  • David Riske
  • Rudy Seanez
  • Tanyon Sturtze
  • Russ Springer
  • Julian Tavarez
  • Luis Vizcaino
  • Mike Timlin
  • Scott Williamson
  • Jay Witasick
  • Troy Percival
  • Kerry Wood

Riske, Tavarez, Pineiro, and Hawkins have options for ’08, so they might not be available. Linebrink is the best of the bunch, and isn’t nearly the pitcher he was two years ago — yet he’ll get paid for his past performance and not his more recent struggles. If Timlin doesn’t retire I’d think he’ll return to Boston. Likewise, I can’t see Wood not re-signing with Chicago — and if not, his health makes him a big question mark. Sturtze would have been a great pickup if Joe Torre hadn’t gotten to him first; he spent the entire year on the DL after rotator cuff surgery (the Braves picked up the tab). Vizcaino is a nice pitcher, but … oh, there’s that Torre again — I’ll pass, since anyone leaving the Yankee pen is an injury waiting to happen.

Affeldt has been on the Mets’ radar for seemingly forever (the Royals once demanded Jose Reyes or David Wright for him). But that was back when he threw in the mid-90s; he barely cracks 88 these days — he’s basically a younger, taller version of Scott Schoeneweis. Chacon might be worth a look — but I doubt he’ll be a bargain based on the tiny bit of success he enjoyed a few years ago. Witasick’s ERA was 5.17 this past year, yet he looks better than Alfonseca, dontcha think? Lots of people like Scott Williamson, perhaps remembering the 1999-2002 version. The 2007 model — like most years since the good ‘ol days — was injury riddled; he appeared in 14 games for the Orioles. That brings us to the return of Jorge Julio. Hey, why not?


LOOGYs

  • J.C. Romero
  • Eddie Guardado
  • Aaron Fultz
  • Joey Eischen
  • Mike Myers
  • Ron Villone
  • Ron Mahay
  • Ray King
  • Trever Miller
  • Joe Kennedy

A lot of LOOGYs this winter, eh? If MLB decides to expand the roster to 30 men, it might be worth signing a few of them. By the way, Fultz, Guardado, and Myers have options for ’08 — not that it matters.

The above three groups were the best names I found on the free-agent list, but you are welcome to go through it yourself and let me know who I missed. I purposely omitted such future HOFers as Mike DeJean, Ricardo Rincon, Scott Sauerback, Dan Kolb, and several others for what should be obvious reasons. Also left off my personal favorite, Scott Strickland, because he was available all season long and the Mets weren’t interested.

Unless I missed someone, there isn’t a whole lot to excited about. Outside of the closers, the only arms I’d have taken for this year would have been Linebrink, Eyre, Vizcaino, Wood, Dotel, Pineiro (who could have been picked up for a song), and Romero (see: Pineiro). As for the rest, I’d have preferred to take my chances with, say, Steve Schmoll or Carlos Muniz.

Again, there are a few decent names — Linebrink, Vizcaino, Dotel jump out — but because of the lack of quality their prices will be sky high (that means committed years in addition to cash). Taking a look at the starting pitchers with the idea of finding a potential conversion, and there is nothing (Bruce Chen? Tony Armas? yuck).

Either the Mets are going to have to pony up SERIOUS dough for one of the closers, overpay for one of the top-top setup guys, or pick a name out of a hat and hope he turns out to be another Chad Bradford-type renaissance man. A trade is almost out of the question — anyone worth trading for, would have to be pried away with an overvalued package.

Bottom line? Omar has his work cut out for him in trying to patch up the bullpen.

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Glavine Hem-Haw Part Two

We were too quick to jump the gun on the Tom Glavine situation.

Although we were correct in believing that he’d decline the $13M option to pitch for the Mets next season, apparently he’s still undecided about what he’ll be doing in 2008.

According to the Mets.com website:

“No one who’s been around me all season could be surprised,” Glavine said, “because I’ve said all along that I had no idea what I was going to do and that I’d need time to think it over. Five days was never going to be enough time.

“And after what happened Sunday, I’m sure I need more time.”

Glavine said that his decisions — whether to pitch, and whether to pitch for the Mets — probably would come at about the same time he decided last year to return to the Mets, in late November or early December, but no earlier than the end of this month.

“I don’t know. There’s a lot of things to consider,” he said.

Glavine is also unsure if returning to the Braves is a possibility. Atlanta made no effort to re-sign him last winter and apparently still has fiscal restraints despite freeing Andruw Jones and thus making significant money available to spend in other areas.

Glavine said that the Mets want him to return.

“I’ve spoken to Jeff twice and [GM] Omar [Minaya] once,” he said. “I didn’t get the impression they didn’t want me back.”

Personally, I’d be very surprised if he pitched in 2008 as a Met. My hunch is he’ll be a Brave, and pitching, next season.

Hopefully, Omar Minaya and co. will move forward with the idea that Glavine is NOT part of the Mets’ 2008 plans. While he can probably be counted on to make 30+ starts, and throw 200+ innings, he likely won’t be top-three starter material. Best to plan without him, and then if by some stroke of fortune he chooses to pitch in New York next year, he can be the fifth starter. But the Mets can’t do what they did last winter — simply wait around sitting on their hands waiting for Glavine to decide whether he’d come back.

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