Although you could fault the Mets and Omar Minaya on several fronts this offseason, one of the biggest glaring holes in the acquisitions was at starting pitcher. You could say that they should have gotten another first baseman or catcher. Personally, I think they’re fine at catcher. But I have been consistent in calling for a change at first base. Mostly, I hear from fans that the starting rotation is still a mess. Even Darryl Strawberry doesn’t like what the Mets have done, or haven’t done, this offseason.
Now that we’re only two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie, you have to consider the Mets picking up a leftover starting pitcher. The obvious choices are Jerrod Washburn, Chien-Ming Wang, and Erik Bedard. At this point in the offseason there are pretty slim pickin’s.
You could always throw in Pedro Martinez, but I doubt that the Mets would go back to him. I wouldn’t either. He was better than I thought he would be with the Phillies last year at 5-1 3.63 in 9 games. But that’s a really small sample. If you consider the fact that he effectively robbed the Mets of two and a half years of his contract, I can’t see the Mets going there again.
Bedard had surgery for a torn labrum and won’t be ready to start the season. Wang also has several months to go before he’ll be ready for the season too. But both pitchers have proven to be effective when healthy and neither is too old to make a comeback. The Mets should take a flyer on Bedard or Wang with an incentive laden deal. Washburn is looking old at 35, even for a soft-tossing lefty. With such limited options, the Mets need to take a gamble on Bedard or Wang.
I’m sure, like me, that many of you watched Derek Lowe and the Braves put the hammer down on the Phillies. Lowe threw eight shutout innings of 2-hit ball. Of course, the dreaded comparisons of Lowe and Oliver Perez are coming out already. Why didn’t the Mets sign Lowe instead of Perez? We already know why. Perez is nine years younger and costs $24 million less than Lowe.
Onto the top stories of the morning:
CBS Sports has a good recap of the opening night game the Phillies and Braves put on last night. Of course, Derek Lowe was masterful and Jordan Schafer hit a homer in his first major league at-bat. Who says kids shouldn’t do HGH?
Kevin McCarthy of Metsopolis writes a preview of the Reds-Mets series starting the season in Cincinnati.
Mets Prospect Hub posts the opening day roster for the 2009 Binghamton Mets.
Ben Shipgel of the New York Times writes about Johan Santana‘s increased comfort level with the Mets this season. He’s become more of a vocal leader with the departure of Pedro Martinez and is fitting in well in the locker room.
Sarah Green from Ump Bump has a good photo essay of her day at Citi Field on Saturday.
Darren Rovell of CNBC writes that the Citigroup executives will be conspicuously absent on opening day at Citi Field. They won’t be throwing out the first pitch as you would have expected a year ago. If they’re at the game at all, they’ll be hiding in their luxury boxes.
Mike Steffanos of Mike’s Mets writes the first part of his Key to the Mets for 2009 series. At the top of the list is the fact that the honeymoon is over for Jerry Manuel.
New SNY broadcaster Bobby Ojeda talks to Don La Greca on ESPN Radio about his new gig and the Mets 2009 season. He touches on the Oliver Perez conditioning situation, Livan Hernandez, and Pedro Martinez.
Skip ahead to the 14 minute mark to hear Ojeda.
Bobby Ojeda audio
Tim Redding’s spring training hasn’t started very well. He’s been shelled pretty much every time out so far. And now we have word from Mets GM Omar Minaya that Redding is suffering from “weakness” in his right shoulder. Now some would say that his right arm has always been pretty weak but this time its an actual injury.
Redding will be on the disabled list when opening day rolls around on April 6 and he won’t pitch anymore this spring. Normally, this wouldn’t be very significant for the Mets. But the fifth starter situation has become so dubious over the past three weeks that this does now impact the team.
Remember that the Mets won’t need a fifth starter for the first two or three weeks of the season anyway. So there isn’t an immediate need to sort out the situation. And we also have to remember that we are talking about the fifth starter. We’ve seen some awful pitching from Redding, Freddy Garcia, and decent work from Livan Hernandez this spring.
There are still some alternate options like Brian Stokes and Nelson Figueroa when he gets back from the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic. So I’m not that worried about this issue now, and I’m certainly not advocating signing Pedro Martinez. I saw enough of him the last three years to know that he just doesn’t have it anymore.
Here’s some video from ESPN’s Steve Phillips talking about the impact that Johan Santana’s injury could have on the Mets. He talks about everyone in the rotation getting bumped up a slot and the negative impact on the bullpen. Also in the clip is some information about Pedro Martinez trying to get a major league contract for 2009.
There are a couple of minor stories out there now in the hot stove world. I try to keep these updated as much as possible but so many of these stories never pan out to mean anything. So I pick and choose the most logical stories to post here.
First, Pedro Martinez’ agent is talking to the Marlins this week according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes. That would be a great fit for both parties. Pedro would put some badly needed fannies in the seats in Florida. And Pedro could help the younger pitchers on the Marlins’ staff. He’s always been good about that, which isn’t always the case with veteran players.
Second, the Atlanta Braves are in serious talks with Scott Boras about Derek Lowe. Although it would be tough to see Lowe go to a division rival, the Braves need to do something after losing John Smoltz to the Red Sox this week. I’ll be shocked if the Braves offer Lowe a fourth year in his contract when the Mets wouldn’t go there. Other than that, Lowe is a good fit for the Braves. And there’s been talk that Chipper Jones called Lowe with a sales pitch for the Braves this week.
The Mets could always move on to Oliver Perez or Randy Wolf if they lose Lowe to the Braves. I’d be more comfortable if Lowe went to another division or the American League but that’s out of the Mets control.