Operation Pitching: Posting Day
First off, kudos to Scott for calling out the rumor that Glavine will be back for two more years. Scott said it would possibly be a $20 million deal, but the Daily News reports that it is $25 million deal. Personally, it seems like a lot to pay for a guy who will be turning 41 during Spring Training, but saying $2.5 million more per year than he should get is going to break the Mets backs would be overdramatic. What does this all mean for the Mets though?
It certainly changes the pitching picture. The Mets are still likely to bring in pitcher from outside the organization via trade, the posting system, or free agency. However, when Pedro returns it is entirely possible the Mets have three veterans coupled with John Maine and Oliver Perez forming the Mets rotation for 2007 and 2008. It really should have a marginal effect on things with Humber and Pelfrey needing one more year in the minors anyway and the probability of an injury happening to get them in sooner is always looming. Besides, we all know that someone will be logging about ten to fifteen starts in place of Pedro in the first half.
So, where does leave the Mets and their pursuit of the current available players? I do think that Glavine coming back for two years might just preclude the Mets from chasing Barry Zito. Why? The Mets have been saying they are not interested and really might not be. If Glavine left, I would have thought it was a foregone conclusion that they chase Zito. If Glavine was around for only year, I would have thought they would have gone after him. However, with Glavine around for two years as the resident lefty getting $12.5 million per year, it is hard to think they will add another $12+ million dollar pitcher to Pedro and Glavine being they might only have a $25 million dollar budget to fill a few holes. That is unless it is Daisuke who's stock is rising by him simply doing nothing. Believe the hype or not, he is the best pitching prospect out of the entire minor leagues and international market. You have to be players for a guy like that and he is a reason to blow through a budget. So, if I was Omar, how would my pecking order look?
1) Daisuke Matsuzaka:
Pros: Sick splitter. Add onto that a nice slider (check around 1:05) and a consistent fastball in the 91 to 93 mph range (147 km/h is 91...150 km/h is 93). Jim Callis said the other day he is better than Phil Hughes, who is widely considered the best pitching prospect in the game. Sure Daisuke is older, but in terms of them both being considered prospects, Diasuke is up there. His stuff is legit.
Cons: It might cost $30 million just have the right to sign him and another $75 million to sign him. $110+ million for a guy who is still an unknown is crazy. Scott Boras has all the leverage as well with Daisuke eligible to just go back to Japan if he does not get the deal he wants and the ability to become an free agent after the 2007 season and have teams fight it out for his services.
My Take: He should be the #1 target and the only pitcher the Mets should target for more than three seasons at big dollar amounts. While some people are still feeling the sting of Kaz Matsui, this is not Kaz Matsui.
2) Jason Schmidt:
Pros: Jason Schmidt has a bad wrap as being an injury prone player. He topped 207 innings three times in the last four years and has averaged 30 starts per year since 2002 and 31 a year in the last four years. Schmidt is also a hard throwing righty that has the ability to dominate and would give the rotation another look while not costing $15 million per year and might not take more than three years to sign. If someone is willing to give him four years, I would pass.
Cons: His declining K Rate is somewhat of a concern, but hitters still only posted a .238 /.310 /.379 line against him in '06. From '04 through '06, hitters own a .227 /.301/.363 line against him. He has Cy Young stuff and is a guy that can flat out dominate. For the right amount of years and the right amount of money, he could be a perfect fit. If the market starts to get out of control, the Mets should pass, but they need to be involved if they miss out on Daisuke.
3) Freddy Garcia:
Pros: Since 1999, there was only one year that Garcia did not top 200 innings and failed to make at least 31 starts. He is only on contract for one year and with Pedro and Glavine tabbed to be around for two more seasons, having a guy for one season might be a good thing for the Mets with all the youth they have ready to go.
Cons: He has a declining strikeout rate and is coming off a year in which he posted the highest ERA of his career and gave up the most homers of his career. Garcia also needs to be traded for and would require the Mets give up talent in return.
My Take: After Garcia's 18-6 season with Seattle when he posted a 3.05 ERA, many thought he was going to be in the upper echelon of pitching. In 1999, he had finished ninth in the Cy Young voting in his rookie season and finished second in the ROY voting. He followed that up by finishing third for the Cy Young award in 2001 after the aforementioned great season. It looked like he was no fluke. While he has not been horrible as evidenced by his 4.01 career ERA in the American League, he did not live up to expectations. However, he is one guy that has the ability and could quite possibly put up a career year after moving to the NL and playing for a team as good as the Mets. If he does that, the Mets have the option to bring him back or let him go and they can nab a draft pick for him while giving an extra year to Phil Humber and Mike Pelfrey.
Pros: With the Mets depth of young, top tier pitching already in the bigs or just about ready for the bigs, they are in a perfect position to nab a stud just about to hit his prime or in their prime.
Cons: With the need to have payroll flexibility and the climate of the Major Leagues being one in which teams have been drastically overpaying for pitching, giving away promising prospects seems downright insane.
My Take: If you give away youth, you better get youth in return. If the Mets trade a stud prospect for a player over 30, it would be a grave mistake. However, if traded for the right pitcher, it is a no brainer 100 times over. For instance, with the emergence of Chris Young as an ace, Clay Hensley having a great rookie season, and the rumblings of the Padres making a run at Barry Zito, could Jake Peavy be available? Kevin Towers already said he would be targeting Oliver Perez for the bullpen and the Mets have blue chips ready to add to any deal, could Jake Peavy be had? The bottom line is when you have young talent to trade away, there are always possibilities and if Zito is signed to a lavish contract with the Padres, an Oliver Perez and Lastings Milledge based deal would not shock me.
5) Barry Zito:
Pros: Since becoming a full time pitcher, he has topped 213 innings in every season and made at least 34 starts. In seven big league seasons, he has a Rookie of the Year award, a Cy Young Award, a 21st finish in the MVP race in 2001, and a 13th place finish in 2002 for MVP. Throw on top of that a possible top five finish in this year's AL Cy Young race, and you have a very accomplished pitcher that has yet to turn 29. His 3.55 career ERA is certainly impressive and I have a hard time believing he would not flat out dominate the National League if he chooses to move there.
Cons: Scott Boras.
My Take: The bottom line is that the Mets need to get stronger in the rotation. While I'm against overpaying for mediocre talent, Zito is not mediocre talent. if plans A through Z fail, getting a guy like Zito for a few million more per year than he is worth is not the worst thing that can happen since he is legit. If Omar has a rough time of it in getting an arm that fits into their long term plans better, Zito should be his guy by default.
We know that Omar had mentioned Chris Carpenter as a model for the way he might be approaching this off-season. Carpenter was not a big name before the Cardinals nabbed him and now he is a bonafide ace. Omar is might try and look at a guy who is undervalued like Ted Lilly and see if he can predict the next breakout pitcher. Lilly has good stuff, but has never logged more than 200 innings in his career and has had a myriad of injury troubles. If the free agent market starts awarding AJ Burnett type contracts to undeserving pitchers, Omar should stay away. If by chance the market for 2nd tier pitchers does not get blown out of the water, Ted Lilly bears looking at.
Mark Mulder's name has been bandied about as a possible low risk/high reward type player, but he will not be ready for opening day. Can the Mets really have two key starters start the season on the DL and not have any idea what to expect from either of them when they return? The only way Mulder makes sense is if Omar brings back The Duque on a one year deal and prefers not to have both Oliver Perez and John Maine in the starting rotation in the second half of the season.
The bottom line is Omar has to do something. Some things make more sense than others, but one thing is clear, Omar needs to get a front line starter in the form of someone who is one, or will be one in 2007.
"Tom wants to come back to the Mets," his agent Gregg Clifton said yesterday. "He has some unfinished business with them. He wants to win a World Series with the Mets."
I am happy they actually made a definitive statement though. You can argue the pros and cons of giving an old pitcher a two year deal, but he has been a solid pitcher since he has been here. Ideally you give him one year, but he will still be an effective pitcher in 2008 in my opinion.
Once Matsuzaka is posted, and MLB is notified, teams have only four days to submit their bids, and the highest one - without the team identified - is turned over to the Lions. At that point, Seibu has four days to accept it, and only then is the team revealed. Then the club has 30 days to get a contract done, and if that doesn't happen, Matsuzaka would return to Seibu and the posting fee is refunded.
The good thing is that this will all be over soon enough for the Mets to not be waiting on Daisuke while the other pitchers are ripped off the market.