November 25, 2007
Why we need to trade for a starter.

OK, being as it´s my birthday (11/25), I was thinking about what I want from Omar.  Of course pitching popped into mind. I´ve been thinking lately about the starting staff beyond next year. If we don´t sign a FA this year or next (including re-signing Pedro and Ollie as FAs after 2008), then the likely starting rotation in 2009 for the new ballpark would be: John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and someone else. This isn´t exactly inspiring to me,to say the least, nor likely to strike fear into the hearts of opponents, given what we´ve seen so far. So at least in my mind there´s a clear need for more/better starting pitching, and the only way to acquire that is thru free agency or trade.

For the sake of argument, my main criteria for an ace or near ace pitcher are: established ML success, can pitch 200+ innings, with a sub-4.00 ERA, a decent K/BB ratio, and good K/9 numbers.

Let´s look first at potential FAs:

After 2007, the available FAs are not exactly inspiring, as we´ve discussed a lot on this site. Most talked about have been Silva and Livan, and we all know the pros and cons of those guys. Silva did pitch over 200 innings this year, but he was tied with Glavine for the fewest Ks by a pitcher with 200+ innings– not exactly ace stuff. Livan had one K more than Silva.

After 2008, potential FAs meeting the criteria are: CC Sabathia, J.Santana, John Lackey, and J. Peavy. Both Lackey and Peavy have team options, which I assume will be exercised. That leaves Sabathia and Santana– does anyone believe that Santana will make it to FA without being traded and signed? That leaves CC Sabathia as the only ace FA after 2008 (if he doesn´t get extended by then), who will certainly be the subject of a huge bidding war.

After 2009, potential FAs meeting the criteria are: Dontrelle Willis, J. Beckett, D. Haren, Tim Hudson (so-so Ks), and Brandon Webb. Webb and Haren have team options which are sure to be exercised; Tim Hudson has a mutual option. Willis is trending badly. Beckett is sure to be resigned by the BoSox. No one left. Another interesting guy who didn´t meet all the criteria (IP) is Eric Bedard, a very good left hander.

After 2010, potential FAs meeting the criteria are: Aaron Harang and J. Vazquez. Harang has a team option, which I assume will be exercised.

So in short, between now and post 2010, that leaves Sabathia, Bedard, and Vazquez as likely ace caliber FAs. Not a very deep pool to swim in, especially when competing with the Yankees, Boston, and the CA teams, plus any wildcard owners with money in their pockets. So in spite of all the names being thrown around as ¨aces we can just pick up for money¨, there´s no guarantee any will be available as FAs.

Which brings us to the need for a trade. Beyond Santana (who has been discussed here ad infinitum), my favorite trade targets meeting my criteria are: Sabathia, Haren, Arroyo, Bedard, Peavy, Blanton and Vazquez.

Sabathia– we´d need a trade and sign window. What does Cleveland need? Can we match up?

Haren– We may match up best with the A´s, who are trying to decide whether or not to rebuild.

Arroyo– The Reds are very strong in young OFers and short in pitching. In that park, I´m sure they´d want multiple groundball/K type pitchers, which we don´t  have.

Bedard– A lefty, which is a need. Baltimore is unpredictable, so who knows what they´d take in a trade.

Peavy– I don´t think San Diego will trade him, at least not this year.

Blanton– I´d prefer Haren, but Blanton was 4th in the majors in IP with 230, had a 3.95 ERA in the AL, and a very low walk rate to offset what was just an okay K rate(40BB/140Ks). His 3 year numbers are trending well.

Vazquez — a little older, but not too much. In 2007 had 217IP, 197H, 50/213 BB/K, and a 3.74 ERA in a tough AL central. Was the ace for the CWS. GM Ken Williams is an aggressive risk-taker, so might pull the trigger on a deal with like-minded Omar.

We will need to re-sign Pedro and Ollie (assuming they pitch OK in 2008), and I think the Wilpons would like to open the new park with Pedro. Failing a deal for Santana or Haren, Blanton and Vazquez could provide valuable production at the top (1 or 2 slot) of the rotation. I´d be much more comfortable with our chances of getting to the Series with a Pedro, Blanton/Vazquez, Maine, Ollie, Duque  rotation than with a Pedro, Maine, Ollie, Pelfrey, Duque rotation.

Who would I trade? Any of our prospects, including Milledge, as well as Heilman if it made the deal happen. I wouldn´t trade multiple OF prospects(not of the big 3 anyway) in the same deal. I wouldn´t trade Reyes.

16 Responses to “Why we need to trade for a starter.”

  1. Comment posted by MetsFanSince71 on November 25, 2007 at 10:01 am (#564896)

    First of all, Happy Birthday Dave!!!!

    Good piece. However, I see Peavy and Sebathia being re-signed by their teams, so let’s cross them off. Overall, the gist of your article is right on the mark: the Mets need to find pitching this winter and not wait for the trade deadline nor run the risk of the better FA pitchers being gone by next winter.

    My choice is Haren and as Newsday points out today, he can probably be had for a package of Heilman, Milledge and Mulvey. I would do it. For whatever reason, the A’s seem to value Heilman more than most teams. Milledge is also apparently still coveted by them. Haren is cheap, young and makes for a solid #2 pitcher behind a healthy Pedro – hell, he might even make ace status on the Mets.

    Yes, that trade would leave RF open, but I think the Mets could fill it by signing a veteran OF to a one year deal (Trot Nixon) and platoon him with Gomez or even FMart (who some feel will make the club in ’08).

  2. Comment posted by metswin2008 says Free Ricky Williams on November 25, 2007 at 12:44 pm (#565000)

    Happy Birthday Dave. Im kind of on the same page as 71. You have to do whatever it takes to get an Ace pitcher. I really would hate to see Milledge go and it would bother alot of people, but pitching wins World Series titles not hitting. We need an Ace and we need him now. Im not sold on Trot Nixon though. Maybe as some relief help for Gomez, but Id like to see Gomez get the nod.

  3. Comment posted by rfloh on November 25, 2007 at 2:10 pm (#565042)

    Happy Birthday.

    AFAICT, Beane has been trying to get Milledge + Heilman for Cupcakes for some time, since the start of 2007.

    Omar, OTOH, has been trying to get Haren for Milledge, instead of Cupcakes.

    AJ Burnett can opt out of his contract after 2008, which will pay him $12M in 2009, 2010. Given the inflation in pitcher salaries, Burnett is almost certainly going to be an FA after 2008. Burnett, of course, has durability issues.

  4. Gravatar
  5. Comment posted by MetsFanSince71 on November 25, 2007 at 3:57 pm (#565068)

    Burnett, of course, has durability issues.

    And that’s putting it mildly :-)

  6. Comment posted by aussieyankee on November 26, 2007 at 2:42 am (#565169)

    I agree that Sabathia and Peavy are most likely pipe dreams, and I’m not that high on Arroyo or Vasquez. I wasn’t that high on Blanton either at first, but he’s actually trending well, and has very good control, which the Mets could use, as do Haren and Santana, and Bedard, though not as much, and he seems to be less durable despite being Canadian (it’s the hockey, dontcha know). I’m wondering how expendable Gotay is with Castillo locked up for another term. I would think very (the selfish part of me likes having a back-up of his caliber, the unselfish part wants him to get a shot). Unfortunately he’s the best fit for the Twins, unless Omar can convince people he’d make a decent shortstop. And if Milledge is moved (or even if he isn’t) I think Omar should re-sign Shawn Green before the Padres or Giants do. He isn’t a power hitter anymore, but he’s still a good hitter, and I believe he would have hit well over .300 last year if not for the broken foot, for which he only missed two weeks, but came back and didn’t hit for a month or so. I think that Gomez could benefit from more time in AAA, and I think that Delgado could use a good backup.
    Does anyone know when Blanton becomes a free agent? I know Haren has two more very affordable years on his deal, with an equally affordable option. The thing with the A’s (and the Twins) is if they are going to be rebuilding, they might be moving all the high priced items, so some people are saying that Huston Street and Joe Nathan could follow. Street isn’t free agent until ’10, but I guess he’s up for arbitration. Nathan has one more year, just like Santana, and has been quoted as not really wanting to stay if players like Santana and Hunter are leaving. Anyone think either of them is an upgrade on Wagner?

  7. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 26, 2007 at 3:10 am (#565171)

    I’m actually in that minority (which I think includes Blastings) that is comfortable with a rotation of Pedro, Ollie, Maine, Pelfrey, and Humber/Duque, as 4th and 5th starters. It’s time we throw these two prospects in the water and see what they can do.

    Lockdown starters that can dominate a playoff series are actually pretty rare, and our best bet is to go with what is in our immediate potential and what seems to be the natural course given our current situation, which is an ’05 Chicago White Sox style well-rounded pitching staff. If we concentrate on getting a dominant offense, an ’05 CWS-style staff should be able to get it done for us.

    And if enough of our kids do well, we have trade chips to rival anyone’s. If our CF prospects or our Bullpen prospects do exceotionally well, we can deal Carlos Beltran or Billy Wagner respectively. Or perhaps Pelfrey and Humber do well and we can use them as bait along with a Center-Field prospect to upgrade. In other words, deal from strength depending on the performance of our prospects. I still think that Milledge, if given playing time to adjust to ML pitching, will be good enough and cheap enough to make trading him unwise.

    The risk we take with this approach is that all our prospects fail, but Metsblog this seems unlikely enough to make banking on an increase in value for some of them, or for whoever is blocking them to be a good course of action

  8. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 26, 2007 at 3:12 am (#565172)

    Pardon me “but paceMetsblog this seems unlikely enough to make banking on an increase in value for some of them, or for whoever is blocking them to be a good course of action.”

  9. Comment posted by Nj-DayDreamer on November 26, 2007 at 5:04 am (#565173)

    Happy B day Espana

  10. Comment posted by rfloh on November 26, 2007 at 8:58 am (#565178)


    Blanton has 3 years of service time, this offseason will be his first real payday.

    David Forst, the A’s AGM, has said that the A’s will go through arby year by year with him if they have to.

  11. Comment posted by JamesSC on November 26, 2007 at 9:16 am (#565179)

    I think we will get a starter this year, but we also have to be wary of not overpaying for them. If at all possible I would really like to keep Mulvey out of any deal that we make as I think he is the guy that has the best chance to become a pitcher of Ace quality in the future. I like Humber/Pelfrey, but I am not sure that their ceiling is as high as some do (of course I would be happy to be wrong).

    I think Omar will be pushing hard to see if he can pry away Bedard/Santana/Sabathia/Lackey/etc, that doesn’t mean we will be ABLE to make a deal like that, it has been a LONG time since we have seen a “blockbuster” type trade happen in MLB. While I think there will be a couple this off season, the game has been trending away from the “blockbuster” trade of late.

  12. Comment posted by coolpapabell on November 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm (#566106)

    I have read the Beane is looking for four or five guys in a deal, and that dealing for Haren will be painful. What is funny is that now Haren is looking like the cheap choice, which I think helps Beane fleece us.

    I don’t think we should fool ourselves, Beane is going to ask for a lot. Last year, I remember reading reports of him wanting Pelfrey, Heilman, Lasting and Gomez and if not then Humber, Guerra, Lastings and F-Mart. As you can see, it will be very painful, so don’t fool yourself. This is not such a big departure from what we would have to offer for Johan.

    Dave I also noticed that you assumed that O.P. wasn’t going to be resigned. I think he will be unless he blows out is arm. If he stinks, this year, the Mets sign him at a bargain. If he Pitches well, I think the Mets will pay him.

    O.P., Pedro, Maine, Humber/Pelfrey/Mulvey not bad if you have a great offense. Sign Tex and Griffey/Crawford? Platoon Lastings and F-Mart, then trade the lesser of the two for maybe relief help at worst 2010.


  13. Comment posted by coolpapabell on November 27, 2007 at 1:43 pm (#566115)

    Trade either Lastings or F-Mart in 2010 for (at worst)relief help. Oh, and maybe Guerra becomes th player he is supposed to be by then.

  14. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on November 27, 2007 at 3:00 pm (#566187)

    Coolpapa- I didn´t assume that OP won´t be re-signed. I just did that upfront to show how little we control after 2008. At the end I said that we need to resign him and Pedro.
    As to including 2 of our 3 star OF prospects, I said I´m against it. I wouldn´t be opposed to a deal that included Milledge, Pelfrey/or Humber/or Mulvey, Heilman, and Gotay. If we include Heilman in a deal I´d like to keep Pelfrey as a 7th/8th inning guy.
    I´m also hoping that Guerra becomes a viable top half of the rotation guy, but I think we see him in 2010 at the earliest (except for maybe a few September innings in 2009).

  15. Comment posted by coolpapabell on November 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm (#566286)

    Solid Dave.

  16. Comment posted by MightyJoeOrsulak on November 27, 2007 at 6:21 pm (#566339)

    For a young and very good pitcher, I’d trade anyone except Milledge or FMart. We need Milz in right next year and Mart is our best prospect by all accounts.

    Gomez and Pelfrey for Garza.

  17. Comment posted by coolpapabell on November 28, 2007 at 11:40 am (#566658)

    I wish Joe Blanton’s name stops coming up. Milledge for Blanton would be a mistake, I just hope Omar see’s that.