After watching yet another disappointing performance by a Mets’ fifth starter, I am left asking myself numerous questions. The most important one of all is, if the Mets truly want to stay in this race all year long, why are they continually giving away games? First it was Chris Schwinden, now Jeremy Hefner. While the Mets look to catch lightning in a bottle with an unproven commodity, they are losing an opportunity to gain ground on the rest of the division.
Before people point to someone like Ryan Vogelsong out in San Francisco as a reason to give these guys a shot, he is a one-in-fifty situation. For every Vogelsong or R.A. Dickey I can name you 50 pitchers who remained never have beens, despite being given a shot.
While the Mets are looking to bridge the gap until Chris Young or Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia are deemed ready, they’ve cost themselves at least three games. If you want to wait for the rookies to be ready, I am all for it. You do not want to rush them to the Majors, only to stunt their growth. However, you need to wait for them with a proven Major League pitcher.
The names Brad Penny or Armando Galarraga are not going to excite anyone, but at least they have proven that they can excel in the Major Leagues. Maybe they both wash out, but at least you would be giving your team a chance (much like the Mets did with Miguel Batista prior to his injury). In the past few days both have signed minor league contracts, meaning there would have been little risk to bring them into the mix. Unfortunately, neither pitcher signed with the New York Mets.
Now the Mets get another opportunity with Jason Marquis, he has been rumored to come to New York for as long as I can remember, being designated for assignment. There is no doubt in my mind that Marquis, pictured above wearing the purple and white of Tottenville, who he led to back-to-back New York City championships, would be willing to come to the Mets, the question is if they are willing to give him a shot.
He’s been pitching for the Twins and, while he has struggled with an 8.47 ERA and 1.94 WHIP over 34.0 innings, he’d be capable of stepping in immediately. I’m not going to bore you with some sabermetric excuse for his struggles (like pointing to a .352 BABIP or 63.8% strand rate, both of which are unlucky numbers) as the fact is he has just been bad. However, would anyone have considered Batista very good prior to his starts?
The difference between Marquis and the Hefner’s or Schwinden’s of the world is that he has proven that he is a Major League pitcher. He posted a 4.04 ERA pitching for the Rockies in 2009 (impressive considering he was calling Coors Field home). Just last season he posted a 3.95 ERA for the Washington Nationals before making three awful August starts for the Diamondbacks (which caused his overall ERA to look unimpressive). While he’s been bad in the early part of 2012, he has the ability to turn it around, especially if he comes back to the National League.
The fact is, if the Mets want to keep their heads in the NL East race (as well as in contention for one of the two Wild Card spots), they are going to need to add at least 2-3 pitchers due to injuries or inability (I’m looking at you Dillon Gee, as you too need to significantly step up your game). One or two of them will come from the group of Young, Harvey and Familia, but the youngsters could face an innings limit, and the Mets are going to need pitching in September.
Why not take a shot on someone like Marquis (or Penny or Galarraga or whoever else you want to name)? Adding him settles two problems, as it would also allow the Mets to jettison Manny Acosta from the bullpen (using Hefner and eventually Marquis as a long man). The Mets need Major League pitchers, not castoffs or never has beens. While you can argue that the team has played over their heads thus far, they have given themselves a chance. Now, the front office needs to help the current group keep the good times rolling.
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