December 27, 2007
Mets starters: 2009 and beyond

Number of proven major league starters under Mets control for 2009: 1 (John Maine).

I don´t know about you, but this is the single scariest stat I´ve seen regarding the Mets future. 2008 will reveal a lot about the future of the Mets, primarily via the development (or non-development) of Mets prospects or the acquisition of proven pitchers. Let´s look at a few names–

Pedro: I think it´s a slam dunk guarantee that the Mets will (barring serious injury) resign Pedro to at least a one year deal, probably 2 years. He may not be the dominating ace he once was, but he can still be a significantly above average ML pitcher. Add to that his marketing value in Citifield, and he´s a lock for 2009 (if he wants to pitch).

Ollie: Two words–Scott Boras. How often do his clients sign an extension before reaching FA? Answer: Never. How often do his FA clients re-sign with their original team? Answer: Unknown. I´m too lazy to research it, but ¨my gut¨ tells me rarely. And besides, how applicable is this history to Ollie´s particular situation? Unknown. In short, we can´t count on Ollie being on the team in 2009.

The Almost Ready Gang: Pelfrey, Humber, Mulvey. I´d be a lot more comfortable if these guys had been dominant in the minor leagues. They´ve been OK, which is the problem. If they had sucked, we´d know that we need to acquire ML starters; if they had been dominant, we´d hand them a role at the ML level or trade them for a star (can you say Johan?). We´re left in limbo, condemned to uncertainty and endless ¨potential vs proven player¨ arguments. We can always hope that they find themselves in 2008, and show the ability to pitch at the ML level. But what if the opposite happens? What if they pitch the same in 2008, or worse?

The Wild Cards: Vargas and Bostick. I´m not ready to count on these guys– are you?

The Farther Away Guys: Guerra, Niese, ptbnl. Who knows? Too far away to tell whether or not they´ll contribute at the ML level in 2010, 2011, or later.

Possible 2009 rotations:

Pedro, Maine, ?, ?, ?.

Pedro, Maine, Ollie, ?, ?.

So what do we do? Do we wait and see if Pelfrey, Humber, and Mulvey develop during 2008? Do we trade them now for a proven quantity (e.g. Joe Blanton, who I know many of you hate, but who is a proven above average ML starter, and still young.)? Do we sign rehab projects like Freddy Garcia, B Colon, or Jason Jennings? Do we put all our eggs in the basket of post-2008 FAs (Sabathia, Sheets, possible Santana though I doubt it)?

While I would love to fill out the rotation with our prospects, their lack of results so far puts me in a real quandary. Barring the acquisition of Santana, I´m tempted to pull the trigger on a deal now for a guy like Blanton, simply to provide some guarantee of a decent ML rotation in 2009. I´m also tempted to take a chance on Garcia or Jennings- what can we lose? Just a little bit of Fred´s money. What I don´t want to see is a 4 year deal for Kyle Lohse, or someone of his (subterranean) level.

I like to believe that things will work out for the Mets, and that our team will be both competitive and fun to watch for the foreseeable future. But  starting pitching is our soft underbelly, and what we (i.e. Omar & Co.) do in 2008 will be critical to that future. My fingers are crossed, and as always, my mantra is Let´s Go Mets!

7 Responses to “Mets starters: 2009 and beyond”

  1. Comment posted by Lunkwill Fook on December 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm (#584800)

    Starting pitches come in all sorts of strange ways. For instance, who would have thought that Kris Benson would have brought us 2/5ths of our current starting rotation? Between now and next year, a LOT of stuff can happen.

    Here’s one scenario:

    We sign Ollie to an extension. Remember: Omar has dealth with Boras before (Beltran) so I doubt he’s “afraid” of him nor unwilling to deal with him.

    Just ONE of Humber/Mulvey/Pelfrey works out.

    2008 rotation: Maine, Pedro, Ollie, Hummulfrey, free agent.

    That’s not so bad, is it? Nor is it wildly unimaginable. And that’s IF nothing changes within the organization which I find highly unlikely.

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  3. Comment posted by Simons on December 27, 2007 at 9:48 pm (#584854)

    Humber actually had a good year in the PCL, finishing #1 in WHIP and fifth in strikeouts — impressive for a guy coming off surgery and dealing with an apparently historic case of food poisoning in August. But your point is well taken that we still don’t know what we have with Humfrey. It would have been nice to see more of them in 2007, but then, how could we have lived without those six starts from Brian Lawrence?

    I’d take a flier on Garcia though. He was pitching in a bandbox with a broken arm last year and he still rolled out a K/BB ratio of 2.63-to-1. Plus he’ll bring more of the paranoid Latino haters out of the woodwork; that never gets old.

  4. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on December 28, 2007 at 8:03 am (#584862)

    Lunk- Omar isn´t afraid of Boras, nor unwilling to work with him.
    It´s just that Boras clients never sign extensions before hitting FA.
    He wants their value determined on the open market.

    Simons- Humber is exactly my point. He had a good year, but wasn´t dominant the way many top-notch prospects are (Hughes, Bucholz, Chamberlain, etc). So we´re left to wonder if he´s the real deal or just a AAAA pitcher.

  5. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on December 28, 2007 at 8:04 am (#584863)

    p.s.– for bcuster and eli:
    Heilman ain´t starting. Maybe he can, but the Mets don´t think so.

  6. Comment posted by aussieyankee on December 29, 2007 at 7:03 am (#585286)

    Carlos Zambrano fired Scott Boras, and signed an extension with the Cubs. as did Kenny Rogers, and A-Rod went behind Boras’s back to re-sign with the Yankees, so it’s not a lock that a Boras client will walk (or stay a Boras Client). But the more pertinent question is (if Perez continues to pitch well) who is likely to pay him more than the Mets, thus giving him a reason to leave? I’m curious as to what sort of deal he will get, as his erratic/brilliant is very much the opposite of this years market of dependable/mediocre, embodied in Silva/Lohse.

    And as far as wondering about Humber, the only way to resolve that is to let him pitch and see what happens. The answer isn’t always revealed when you want it to be (a la Heath Bell), but I’d be more inclined to give him a rotation shot than Pelfrey, who I think would benefit from and be a benefit to the bull pen. Another free agent after ’08 is Jorge Sosa, and I’m curious what will happen to him, mostly because I think that allowing Darren Oliver to walk was one of Omar’s bigger mistakes, and detractions to the quality of the team last season. Sosa hasn’t been as good overall as Oliver was, but he’s the guy in that slot for now, and I wonder what the future might bring.

  7. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on December 29, 2007 at 7:24 am (#585287)

    I agree that if Pelfrey is still here he should be tried in the pen. It doesn´t have to be a permanent switch: Johan Santana worked out of the pen his first 2 years or so. Right now, the bulldog, go-right-at-em mentality of a late inning reliever would benefit his development. Maybe he´d even end up like Papelbon, and be able to replace Wagner when his contract is up.

  8. Comment posted by Eli on January 20, 2008 at 7:52 am (#592748)

    I think Pelfrey would be great as a reliever, and maybe even better as a starter, if he could develop a good change up.

    p.s.– for bcuster and eli:
    Heilman ain´t starting. Maybe he can, but the Mets don´t think so.

    Well, unfortunately, you are absolutely right. i wish bcuster would replace Willie, but bcuster isn’t interested. But what do you personally think? Do you think Heilman would be a good/very good starter?