Johan Santana and Developing Young Pitchers

New York Mets Johan Santana (R) watches as Cleveland Indians Travis Hafner hits a pitch for a solo home run during the second inning of the Mets MLB inter-league baseball game in Cleveland, Ohio June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL) fans are quickly realizing that the 2010 version of Johan Santana is not the same pitcher that the team traded a proverbial “bucket of balls” for back in 2008. After Santana and the Mets agreed to a 6-year, $137.5 million extension following the trade that winter, the left-handed ace went 16-7 with an ERA of 2.53. Santana had a Cy Young caliber season that year, he could have easily had 4-5 more wins, if not for a horrendous bullpen that ultimately led to that team’s demise.

Fast-forward to the present, and it is plain to see that Santana is performing like anything but an ace. Coming off an injury shortened season in 2009, the wear and tear on Santana’s elbow is certainly showing, especially coming off surgery. The 31-year-old’s velocity is down considerably, which lessens the effect of his signature out pitch, his change-up. Combine the drop in velocity of his fastball with poor location of seemingly all of his pitches recently, and you have the make-up of a very hittable and predictable Major League pitcher.

With Santana’s 2010 campaign so far in mind, it reminds us of the importance of developing young pitchers within the organization (a big-market organization, at that), so the need for acquiring high end starting pitchers down the road isn’t as great. Continue reading “Johan Santana and Developing Young Pitchers”

Video: Cliff Lee 2010 Trade Market

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws a pitch to the New York Yankees in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)’s Buster Olney talks about the current trade market for pitcher Cliff Lee. Although there are several teams that have Lee on their radar, Olney lists the Mets and Twins as the favorites to land him. Olney also says that the Mariners are ready to make a deal now so whoever is quickest to pull the trigger should come away with a front line starter for the second half of the season.

We’ve had some differing opinions about what the Mets should do before the deadline this year. Doug Gausepohl wrote that the Mets should forget Cliff Lee and focus on Roy Oswalt. Gabe Aguilar wrote that the Mets should trade prospects not depth for Cliff Lee and there’s a big difference.

Both make good points and we all hate to see good young players go. But the Twins didn’t come away with anything great in the Johan Santana deal. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think we can all point to the Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir deal as one that got away.

Cubs Could Trade Ted Lilly

Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs throwing a pitch...
Image via Wikipedia

With the Cubs season already locked in an early summer downward spiral, it is becoming more and more likely that the club may look to shop left-handed starting pitcher Ted Lilly. The 34-year-old Lilly is 2-6 with a 3.28 ERA, but has fallen victim to anemic run support so far this season with the Cubs. Lilly, like Cliff Lee, would be considered a rental, however, at a far lower cost. Lilly is likely to become a type-B free agent next off season.

Obviously, Lilly would be looked at as a poor man’s version of Cliff Lee by Mets fans if acquired. However, I’ve always looked at him as an effective starter throughout his career. As noted earlier, the Cubs asking price would not be nearly as high as the M’s asking price for Lee. A combination of the likes of Dillon Gee, Jeurys Familia, Nick Evans, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis would be realistic in dealing for Lilly. Unlike Lee, Lilly would not be worth giving up players like Jenrry Mejia, Jonathon Neise, or Wilmer Flores.

I think Lilly would be a good fit for the Mets. He has pitched in New York before, and has been a part of winning teams in Chicago as recently as 2007 and 2008. He’s left-handed and could pose match-up problems for NL East bats like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jason Heyward, among others.

As much as I’d love for the Mets to land Cliff Lee, I certainly feel that Ted Lilly would be a much more worthy alternative than Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Westbrook, and even Fausto Carmona.

Mets Trading Prospects Not Depth For Cliff Lee

May 11, 2010: Cliff Lee for the Seattle Mariners pitches during a game against the hometown Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Mariners beat the Orioles 5 - 1. month is almost upon us, and the Mets definitely look to be buyers this season. With that said, any talk of trading Angel Pagan (selling high) needs to be thrown out immediately. I’m not saying the 29 year old will be a major cog in the next couple of years. Who knows? But it is simply a matter of depth.

Carlos Beltran’s knees are never again going to be a sure bet. Pagan is also not a player who has been kn0wn to avoid the disabled list. It doesn’t hurt having four more than capable outfielders sharing time. Just yesterday, Angel was pulling himself out of a game because of a strained muscle. Depth in the outfield, and in general, is essential and in our case could be a strength.

We all remember what happened in past seasons when we lost key players late. Losing Fernando Tatis in 2008 helped to make our offense as inept as any in baseball at that time. The year before, we lost an aging Alou and Valentin who were key offensive pieces. Depth will allow the hot bats to find the lineup and give a manager the ability to get more creative. Continue reading “Mets Trading Prospects Not Depth For Cliff Lee”

Forget Cliff Lee, Mets Need Roy Oswalt

May 26, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt pitched for 8 scoreless innings giving up only 4 hits to the Milwaukee Brewers..Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Houston Astros 0-5..Mike McGinnis / CSM. know by now that there are two pretty appetizing starting pitching options on the Mets’ radar right now.

Those two, obviously, are Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Both are outstanding pitchers on underachieving teams that are trying to dump them in order to clear payroll or to acquire young talent.

But which one is better for the Mets, both for now and down the road?

If this Mets team was a World Series or bust team, the decision would be pretty apparent: Cliff Lee. He’s comparable to Johan Santana in how he can dominate a game, and would add a third lefty to go along Santana and Jon Niese, in a division with lefty sluggers such as Chase Utley, Jason Heyward, and Ryan Howard. Add Mike Pelfrey to that mix, and you have a deadly starting rotation.

But right now, the Mets are not a World Series or bust team. They’re a team that has a legit shot at a postseason birth, both this year and in the years to come. Remember, outside of Rod Barajas, all the important cogs in this Mets lineup and starting rotation will still be here.

For a Mets team that could make some noise for a while, it makes more sense to go with a pitcher that gives the Mets more roster security. That pitcher is Roy Oswalt. Continue reading “Forget Cliff Lee, Mets Need Roy Oswalt”