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October 28, 2007
  
Pitching 2009, or why I´m stressing.

I was looking at the pitching staff today, thinking about 2009. I was also thinking about who our competitors are, not in the NL East, but in the media and (possibly/hopefully) the world series– i.e. Boston and the Yankees. For the sake of argument, I decided to look at the top four starters for each team that will be under their control in 2009, so this doesn´t include guys who will become FAs . For the Mets, that means a top 4 of Maine, Pelfrey, Humber, and Mulvey (Pedro, Duque, and Perez will all be FAs); for Boston, that means Beckett, Matsuzaka, John Lester, and Clay Bucholz;(no Schilling or Wakefield); and for the Yankees that means Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy (no Pettitte, Mussina, and I didn´t include Igawa because he sucks).

I started by compiling the Major League career records of these pitchers, as well as their minor league records from 2006 and 2007. I totalled up wins and losses (I know, that´s not a good measure, but experiencing success is a psychological factor too), IP, H, BB, K, WHIP, and K/BB ratio. The results:

Mets–

Current ages as of today: 26, 25, 23, 22

ML records: 28W-28L , 428IP, 402 H, 196BB, 331K, WHIP=1.40 k/bb=1.7

Minor league records for these pitchers for 2006-2007: 38-32, 564IP, 503H, 174BB, 490K, WHIP=1.20, k/bb=2.8

Boston–

 Current ages: 27, 27,  23, 23

ML records: 106-67, 1386IP, 1266H, 501BB, 1292K, WHIP=1.27, k/bb=2.6

Minor league 2006-2007(not incl DiceK Japan #s):  27-18, 382IP, 301H, 120 BB, 424K, WHIP=1.10, k/bb=3.5

Yankees–

Current ages: 27, 22, 22, 21

ML records: 54-21, 650IP, 634H, 187BB, 334K, WHIP= 1.26. k/bb= 1.8

Minor league 2006-2007: 37-12, 421IP, 268H, 125BB, 510K, WHIP =0.93, k/bb=4.1

What can we draw from this comparison? Well, the ages of the pitchers are more or less equal, so let´s set that aside. Boston pitchers have the most ML experience, with the Mets having the least. Mets  have pitched more minor league innings than the others, but with the worst winning percentage of the three teams. The Mets k/bb ratios are the worst of the three teams at both ML and minor levels, as is the WHIP. In short, at this time the Mets project to have the weakest starting 4 of the three teams(and no, I didn´t try to figure out park/league factor adjustments). (I do think the team will try to re-sign Pedro to an extension, and they´ll also try to extend Ollie P, assuming both pitch well in 2008; I can´t evaluate how this would compare to the re-signings or acquisitions by the other teams.).

This all depresses me to no end. I certainly hope that Pelfrey and Humber can pitch better than they have; maybe they´ll end up better than Bucholz and Hughes and Chamberlain etc., but they haven´t pitched as well as the others to this point in their careers. All three teams will have the resources and the ambition to go after the big FA pitchers (Santana, Peavy, Sabathia), potentially creating the Perfect Storm bidding war (this doesn´t even count other teams that will surely make a pitch for these guys). So do we put all our eggs in the FA basket, stand pat now and hope we can outbid the other guys next year, or do we take another route? Do we trade a young guy now for one of the big three, with a signing window as a deal breaker? Do we hedge our bets and trade for a non-FA ace starter, like an Oswalt, Haren, or Harang? Or do we trade for a 2nd or 3rd tier guy and hope for the best?

I don´t know the answer to these questions– I don´t even know what I want the team to do anymore.  But I do know that Omar is in a thankless position– he´s going to get slammed in all scenarios (except the one where he holds onto all our young guys and gets Santana in free agency). Good luck Omar– we´re rooting for you.


11 Responses to “Pitching 2009, or why I´m stressing.”

  1. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on October 28, 2007 at 11:10 am (#552833)

    BTW- Kudos to the Yankees and Boston for drafting well and then developing those guys effectively.

  2. Comment posted by rfloh on October 28, 2007 at 12:44 pm (#552873)

    Potential FA pitchers in 2009:

    Kris Bensen BAL
    A.J. Burnett TOR (may opt out)
    Paul Byrd CLE
    Jon Garland CWS
    Tom Glavine NYM
    Mike Hampton * ATL
    Rich Harden * OAK
    Orlando Hernandez NYM
    Jason Jennings HOU
    Randy Johnson ARZ
    John Lackey * LAA
    Esteban Loaiza OAK
    Braden Looper STL
    Derek Lowe LAD
    Pedro Martinez NYM
    Matt Morris * PIT
    Mike Mussina NYY
    Jamie Moyer PHI
    Mark Mulder * STL
    Carl Pavano NYY
    Jake Peavy * SD
    Brad Penny * LAD
    Odalis Perez KC
    Oliver Perez NYM
    Andy Pettitte NYY
    Mark Prior CHC
    Horatio Ramirez SEA
    C.C. Sabathia CLE
    Johan Santana MIN
    Ben Sheets MIL
    John Smoltz * ATL
    Julian Tavarez BOS
    Steve Trachsel BAL
    Brett Tomko LAD
    Claudio Vargas MIL
    Woody Williams HOU
    Randy Wolf LAD

    * indicates option

    The Padres have a club option for 2009 on Peavy that will cost them $7.5M. Unless they are contracted, there’s no way Peavy becomes an FA in 2009. A trade target, yes, if they don’t manage to sign him to a new deal.

    If Omar can get one of Oswalt / Haren / Harang for the cost of Milledge + stuff, that is without emptying the farm system of everything, he’s a genius.

    I agree with you that Omar is in a difficult spot. If he sits on his hands and doesn’t sign a veteran league average innings eater, he’ll get slammed, since the Mets didn’t make the playoffs in 2007.

    OTOH, If he does sign a veteran innings eater, he’ll be accused of overpaying for (Latino) mediocrity. If he trades away a prime prospect for a veteran starter, he’ll be accused of overvaluing (Latino) mediocrity.

  3. Comment posted by rfloh on October 28, 2007 at 12:51 pm (#552876)

    Also, it will cost the Angels $8.5M if they exercise their 2009 option on John Lackey, so he, as much of an ace as Peavy, fpennylike Peavy is unlikely to be available.

  4. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on October 28, 2007 at 2:51 pm (#552961)

    rfloh- why do you assume tht he´ll only pursue latino pitchers?

    Good list BTW. I didn´t realize that Peavy had a club option–I thought he was free and clear. That´ll just make the bidding fiercer on Santana and Sabathia (and Sheets).

  5. Comment posted by rfloh on October 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm (#552979)

    Dave in Spain,

    I’m not assuming that. I’m saying that Omar’s critics have been unfairly harsh on him when they accuse him of that.

  6. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on October 28, 2007 at 4:40 pm (#552982)

    Solution:

    Hold onto your guys.

    You can get one of the 5 aces in ’09.

    Resign Oliver Perez.

    One pitching prospect will come through. The other will work for a very good and cheap #5.

    If some Mets fans are aggressively denouncing Omar for waiting through ’08 and demanding his head, the solution is simple.

    Don’t give it to them.

    Let them twist in the wind.

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  8. Comment posted by MetsFanSince71 on October 28, 2007 at 6:14 pm (#552994)

    The Mets are too close to the WS to be waiting for 2009 to come around.

  9. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on October 28, 2007 at 6:40 pm (#553009)

    1st of all, that’s incorrect. The Red Sox would have whipped our a**es.

    2nd of all it is extremely impatient (Yankee Impatient) to consider sitting tight for one year “waiting around”.

    3rd, you contradict yourself. If the Mets are so close to a World Series this year than they should be contenders even if they do nothing.

    4th I would rather have a 15%-20% of winning the World Series from ’09-’15 and a 2% chance in ’08 than a 4% chance in ’08 and perhaps an 8% chance in ’09-’15. The former will get us more titles and guarantee us one. You are being impatient. It is I who am being greedy.

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  11. Comment posted by clmetsfan on October 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm (#553315)

    I agree, Orsulak, the Mets are not all that close. A team that plays sub-.500 baseball from June through September is not a World Series contender, even if they do play in a putrid league.

  12. Comment posted by coolpapabell on November 2, 2007 at 11:34 am (#555876)

    People must realize that if Johan gets traded, I think he should still be availible in free agency. If the Dodgers trade for him, then give him a fat offer, why wouldn’t he and his agent think that “hmmm…the dodgers are willing to give us THIS much, I wonder what the Yankees and the Mets are willing to give us?” and go out and test the market. Remember Johan will only get to test the full power of the market only once since next deal will be long term. If you are going to trade for a pitcher, you better get him while he is under control for the next few years.
    I read someone throw out an idea of a possible deal for Eric Bedard, which makes for a very intersting trade. Baltimore could be a perfect trade partner because they have a lot of holes and they want to get rid of Tejada, which means that we could get a third team invloved.

    I don’t see why the Mets can’t resign O.P., Pedro, and sign Santana, and Tex or Dunn next year.

  13. Comment posted by JamesSC on November 16, 2007 at 9:50 am (#560976)

    I really think Pedro and Perez will be pitching in a Mets uniform in 2009. Especially Pedro, I think he will want to repay the Mets for being so strongly behind him the past 18 months or so. There are some nice names that are going to be around in 2009, that should be a fun off season.

    Think I will wait till then to worry about it

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