Thursday, October 4, 2007

Offseason Needs: Starting Pitching

So I figured I'd incrementally cover the various areas that this team, that is the New York Metropolitans, needs to address. Perhaps the most blatant, and probably the most in need of creativity on the part of Omar Minaya, is starting pitching. So, rather appropriately, we will start with starting pitching. The following are potential/probable free agents for this coming offseason:
Kris Benson, Paul Byrd, Shawn Chacon, Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Scott Elarton, Josh Fogg, Casey Fossum, Freddy Garcia, Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings, John Lieber, Kyle Lohse, Rodrigo Lopez, Wade Miller, Eric Milton, Odalis Perez, Joel Pineiro, Kenny Rogers, Curt Schilling, Carlos Silva, Brett Tomko, Kip Wells, Randy Wolf, Jaret Wright, Victor Zambrano. A few of these players, have team options, but Pineiro and Byrd seem like the only ones with a real shot of getting their options picked up.
Essentially you are left with a bunch of guys who are either below average, injury-prone or very old. No one in this group would fit the title "front-line starter", which ideally is what the Mets would like to acquire. The only two on this list who really stand out at all are Schilling and Kenny Rogers, and either one could easily be resigned by their respective teams. I don't think we'd ever see the Gambler in a Met uniform again. Schilling is old and pretty fragile at this point, but he most likely brings a good deal more to the table than Duque, and with some luck could replace Glavine nicely. I wouldn't be wholly opposed to that option; there is indeed a need to add youth to this team, but there are plenty of other places you can do this, and a 1-2 year deal for a proven veteran to fill one of two rotation vacancies may not hurt. As far as the rest of the list goes, you can totally right of the injury-plagued members. I just can't see Omar envisioning Matt Clement or Bartolo Colon as viable options to solidify a shaky staff. What I could see is bringing in a dependable, league average or so innings eater to replace El Duque in the rotation, sending him to the bullpen; someone along the lines of Carlos Silva, Kyle Lohse or Livan Hernandez. If you write in Pedro, Perez and Maine, and assume some length of injury for one or more, that leaves two spots. The only way a Silva type works here is if there is an additional deal made on the side for a real impact pitcher to fill the other vacant spot. Example rotation: Pedro, Javier Vazquez, Maine, Perez, Carlos Silva, with Pelfrey/Humber as insurance.
Of course, such a scenario is entirely contingent upon bringing that impact guy in. It's tough to speculate on which big-name starters could be made available, but here are some potentials: Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Dontrelle Willis, Brandon Webb and the entire White Sox rotation. A couple of these are serious stretches as far as availability goes, but you never know. Personally, I would stay the heck away from Willis, as the league seems to figure him out more and more, and he would demand an amount of cash to resign that just wouldn't be worth it. Any Met fan in their right mind would be thrilled to see Santana come to Queens, but what in the world gets him? Milledge, Maine, Humber, plus? Reyes? If through some bizarre act of God Johan becomes available at a price that would not seriously cripple the rest of this team's future, then sure as hell go get him, but I hear too many people saying, "they gotta get Santana", as if it were a forgone conclusion that this were doable within the realm of reason. But hey, Santana, Pedro, Maine, Perez and whoever looks real good. The most likely options would be the usual suspects from the south side of Chicago, and while none of them command the same fear of God that the other names do, there would be a lot of potential for success in the NL. Vazquez would seem to be the most interesting, coming off a year in which he won 15 games, posted a 3.74 ERA and struck out 213 for an abysmal ballclub. One could cite the failed Yankee experiment as a reason not to bring him to NYC, but to be fair the guy got hurt, and the Yankees kinda ran him out of town quickly. He seems like someone who could be gotten for a Gomez, Pelfrey and low-end minor-leaguer, and make a major difference in this rotation. Beyond him you get Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Jose Contreras. Any of them could be successful, and gotten at a smaller price. (Consider the El Duque-Contreras element...)
The options really are endless, and with each one arises a new drove of complications. No matter what, there absolutely needs to be a major addition to this rotation in one form or another, because the cross your fingers with the guys you have approach did not work this year.
Kris Benson, anyone? ;)

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