The Mets are 42-36 as the All Star break draws nearer. It’s become clear that they will be in the market for one or more relievers, with their eyes on a closer who might be more effective than the hit-or-miss Frank Francisco. They also need to be a little worried about the rotation as pitchers like Gee and Young cannot be counted on long-term and Johan’s arm is not going to last forever. Before we focus on what could be, let us focus on all the good things that ARE.
- Johan Santana is back, healthy and effective
- R.A. Dickey looks like a star
- David Wright is leading the team offensively
- Lucas Duda continues to produce at the big-league level
- Ike Davis is pulling out of his slump
- Jon Niese continues to improve his game
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis quickly made us say, “Jason Bay, who?”
- Scott Hairston obliterates all lefties
- Ruben Tejada is holding his own
- Dillon Gee hasn’t imploded
- Chris Young’s arm hasn’t fallen off… again
- Daniel Murphy is not a complete and total butcher in the field
Now… let’s take a peak at what COULD be if the Mets were to jump into the starting pitcher market in search of… and Ace. In my estimation, there are three Aces who will be available: Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke and Jake Peavy. There are a number of other quality arms but those are the BIG IMPACT names on the market right now.
Cole Hamels: Born in 1983, the 6’3” lefty has been a Philly his entire career. He came up in 2006 to some fanfare and proceeded to improve his game in 2007 and 2008. 2009 was a stumble of a season for Hamels whose ERA rose above 4.00 for the first time since his rookie campaign. Since 2010 he’s righted the ship and continues to be one of the most consistent Aces in the game of baseball at the crisp young age of 28.
Why We Want Him: Hamels is, HANDS DOWN, the best pitcher who might be on the market. He’s a lefty with great stuff and he’d be coming from a division rival. Hamels could even re-sign with the Mets but after a number of things he’s said in the past… that might not be realistic.
What It Would Cost: The Phillies nightmare scenario is that they trade Cole Hamels to the Mets, get prospects that don’t achieve and Cole helps the Mets win now… AND re-signs. For this reason, the Phillies would want MORE from the Mets than from other teams outside the National League East. The question becomes: What is a pitcher in his walk year worth? I think that the Mets could afford to part with Reese Havens who might still be attractive to the Phils who are staring at the reality of the twilight of Chase Utley’s career. That is only a smaller part of a larger deal. The larger part would likely have to be one of the Mets 4 big pitchers or two more notable prospects from deeper in the minors.
Opinion: I refuse to trade any of the big 4 for anyone this season. The chances of them all succeeding are low but you also want to have better odds of one (or more) of them succeeding with the Mets by having them all still with the Mets come 2013. If the Phillies would take Havens, Tapia and Gorski/Cohoon for the Hamels rental, I’d do it. I don’t think he’d be that cheap. I would bet the Phillies would demand AT LEAST Familia or Mejia. When it comes to that… I would only trade if Hamels would re-sign with the Mets before the deal processed.
Zack Greinke: Slightly older (2 months) than Hamels, Greinke is the second best option in terms of talent. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the second best option for the Mets though. Greinke came up in 2004 and had a little Rookie of Year hype. He lost to Bobby Crosby… go figure. 2005 was a rough year and in 2006 he spent most of the year in the minors but by 2007 he seemed to turn the corner into a steady MLB pitcher who had some potential for strikeouts. 2009 was THE year for Zack who seemed to come out of nowhere and turn into a Cy Young overnight. He hasn’t recaptured that magical season but since that point he’s certainly been an Ace.
Why We Want Him: He’s a definite Ace who the Mets could count on every 5th day. He also might be more likely to re-up with the Mets beyond 2012. That is the biggest reason that the Mets might be more intrigued by Greinke than Hamels.
What It Would Cost: Center Field is a perpetual hole for the Brewers so… Matt Den Dekker might be a name that intrigues them, I just don’t know of Matt would be enough of a star prospect to headline the deal. More likely we are again talking about one of the big 4 pitchers (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia). The smallest package I could imagine involves Collin McHugh, Matt Den Dekker and another farther away prospect.
Opinion: You still cannot trade one of the big 4 and not have a guarantee that Zack will return beyond 2012. I might not even trade Den Dekker without that kind of assurance. The reality is… the Mets weren’t supposed to be nearly this good in 2012 and sacrificing our future for a 2012 run is just too risky.
Jake Peavy: Slightly older, Jake Peavy has certainly recaptured the old hype he used to have in San Diego. Chris Young’s former rotation buddy has a sub 3.00 ERA and over 90 K’s on the season. He’s also expensive and significantly more of an injury risk. There is a team option the Mets would be wise to decline of $22 Mil, but that isn’t to say Peavy might not be wooed into re-signing with the Mets beyond the 2012 season.
Why We Want Him: He’s an Ace and he’s pitching like it. His ERA+ (One of the more magical statistics) is 150, only 8 points lower than his Cy Young year of 2007. Add that Citi Field would be a better fit for him and that he’d get to pitch to pitchers again and who knows…
What It Would Cost: The key with Peavy is that he’d be cheaper, no question. Sure the White Sox will expect 2+ quality prospects but the Mets could cross off: Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Matt Den Dekker off the list and still be in the discussion. I would start the offer with Collin McHugh and another solid mid-tier prospect like Jordany Valdespin, Juan Lagares or Jefry Marte and see what feedback I got from Chicago. Peavy’s price is going to scare away some suitors and the Wilpons are eager to prove to New York fans that they are still willing to act like New York is a big market city (at least I hope they would be).
Opinion: Here I think is the Met’s best chance to land an Ace to solidify their rotation. I would happily move Gee into reliefand run out Peavy, Santana, Dickey, Niese Young as my starting 5. In fact if you switch to a 4 man rotation in the playoffs… that front four is pretty slick. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Mets could go on a losing streak and not look at themselves as buyers at all. Sigh…