It's Not the Size That Matters, It's How You Use It....
The Mets seem to be stockpiling 5'11" pitchers that throw hard like it is going out of style. It's a shame really because they traded Scott Kazmir when he really would have fit well with what could have helped comprise the shortest pitching staff in the league. Regardless, there is a worry about the Mets and how far they can ride these arms. Will they break down? Can the Mets stand to lose one of them? They have been hearing they could break down since they have started playing baseball and this idea contributed to the reason they ultimately traded Kazmir for Victor Zambrano since he was closer to helping them win a championship.
(an aside just because I'm a masochist)
G IP HR BB SO W L WHIP BAA ERA
Kazmir 32 186 12 100 174 10 9 1.46 .248 3.77
Zambrano 31 166.1 12 77 112 7 12 1.48 .264 4.17
When you consider the leagues and the division is not out of the realm of possiblities that Kazmir would have posted a 3.50 ERA or below should he had a Met uni on in 2005....but I digress....
I'm not going to go as far to say that their season hinges on these two arms, but it is pretty close to it. I think the loss of Wagner is more sustainable if Heilman can continue his dominance out of the pen, but that is also contingent upon people being able to step up into Aaron's spot. Will Padilla be able to repeat? Will the Mets pony up the fourth year it will most likely take to get Tavarez? Heath Bell, Bartolome Fortunato, and Alay Soler are also big x-factors that could possibly figure into the Mets bullpen in 2006. The bullpen could be surprisingly deep and effective or it could be shockingly bad. There are so many unknowns when it comes to relievers and the Mets have more than many teams.
As far as the rotation goes, I do not see the Mets being able to sustain the loss of Pedro and be successful. What he meant to the Mets every time he started cannot be filled in by anyone. Another pitcher is probably going to be needed to help this team step into the upper echelon of the Majors even if Pedro is healthy, without him, it is trouble. Whether that other starter could be Heilman shifting to the rotation to make the bullpen weaker, which honestly may seem like the best option should they get Tavarez, and possibly step up to be the Mets second best starter or Zambrano taking over and pitching more consistently, something has to give. Pedro's health means a lot to the Mets chances at making the playoffs in 2006 and hopefully he has what it takes to lead the Mets there arm intact and hopefully the Mets solidify their rotation by Spring.
Additions: CF Endy Chavez (one year, $500K), 1B Carlos Delgado (acquired from Marlins), 1B Julio Franco (two years, $2.2M), C Paul Lo Duca (acquired from Marlins), INF/OF Xavier Nady (acquired from Padres), 3B Jose Valentin (one year, $912,500), RP Billy Wagner (four years, $43M)
Subtractions: INF Marlon Anderson (Nationals — two years, $1.85M), CF Mike Cameron (traded to Padres), C Mike DiFelice (Nationals — minor league contract), RP Danny Graves (Indians — minor league contract), RP Roberto Hernandez (Pirates — one year, $2.5M), 1B/C Mike Jacobs (traded to Marlins), RP Braden Looper (Cardinals — three years, $13.5M), 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (Royals — one year, $1.85M)
Needs: Middle infield depth, left-handed setup man
The lowdown: The Washington Examiner names the Mets as being among the teams interested in trading for Baltimore SS Miguel Tejada ... The Boston Globe reports that the Mets remain interested in Red Sox OF Manny Ramirez ... According to the Newark Star-Ledger a trade for SP Barry Zito of Oakland is still possible.
Off-season grade so far: B. The Delgado addition was excellent, and Wagner will help in the near term. Not such high marks for the Cameron and Lo Duca deals.