Derek Lowe and other pitchers recently linked to the Mets

Despite gaping holes in the outfield and the bullpen, there has been a bunch of speculation recently about the Mets chasing another starting pitcher. Okay, it’s the offseason and I know all too well how exciting it is to have something new to write about in late December. Still, would it be too much to have these new angles, oh I don’t know, make some sense?

The latest speculation is about Derek Lowe. Last year as a starter, Lowe had a 5.52 ERA with 45 BB and 41 Ks in 119 IP. This came on the heels of a 2011, where he posted a 5.05 ERA. In his last 306 IP as a SP, Lowe has a 5.24 ERA. Oh yeah, he’s 39 years old – turns 40 in June – and does not throw a knuckleball.

I thought speculation about the Mets being interested in Manny Parra was insane and this one isn’t too far behind that in the well-thought-out scale.

What makes this even more difficult to understand is that the Alderson-era Mets have already displayed the blueprint in how to successfully shop in the bargain basement for starters. You do not chase healthy guys pushing 40 or healthy guys who have done nothing but stink recently and especially not old guys who’ve done nothing but stink.

Two years ago the Mets brought in Chris Capuano and Chris Young. They were two guys who had been dogged by injury problems but who had been successful when healthy. There was a huge amount of risk with both pitchers and the Mets ended up batting .500 with them, as Capuano was healthy and a solid pitcher while Young made just four starts before coming down with a season-ending injury.

The key was that while these guys came with risk, they also came with plausible upside. Now, we can certainly argue how much upside they carried but I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect either of those guys, both 32 at the time, to put up a 4.00 ERA if they were able to remain healthy. These are guys that you would want as a SP4 or SP5 – not necessarily great but someone who would not embarrass you to hand the ball to every fifth day.

Tell me with a straight face you want to hand the ball to Lowe every five days.

Here are some other guys the Mets have been linked to recently and my thoughts about them:

Joe Saunders – I’m okay with him for a talent POV but he made $6 million last year and if he wants more than $2 million the Mets would be better spending that money elsewhere. You know, like on an outfielder.

Carl Pavano – He’ll turn 37 in early January and has one year (2010) since 2005 where his ERA was below 4.30 – anything more than a minimum wage NRI is a waste.

Shaun Marcum – Consistently outperforms his peripherals to the point that we can no longer call it a fluke. However, he comes with elbow issues and will likely command at least $7 million per year on a multi-year deal.

Francisco Liriano – Consistently underperforms his peripherals yet somehow snookered a team into giving him a 2/$14 contract. Good luck Pirates – you’ll need it. Actually, Liriano would have been a good pitcher to gamble on but $14 million seems like an unnecessarily high amount to wager. He’s under 30 and throws lefty – it’s not impossible that he’ll develop control and won’t post a 5.00 BB/9 like he has the past two years. I won’t be completely shocked if he turns in a good season – he had a 2.72 BB/9 in 2010 – but I can’t get over the price of this deal.

Chris Young – He had a 2.73 ERA in five September starts. He also had a 4.76 ERA in five August starts and I’m not sure you can make a convincing argument that his September numbers are more predictive than his August ones. I’d rather see him than Pavano but I’d really be stretching the truth to say that I’m eager to see him back for a third season. And that’s without getting into how much it would cost for the privilege.

*****

By treating the offseason as a marathon rather than a sprint, Alderson came out ahead in his deals with both Wright and Dickey. There’s no reason to deviate from that plan now. It makes it hard on the bloggers in early winter, but I’ll gladly trade scrounging for stories now with the hope of writing something good when August rolls around. Hopefully we can do a better job of scrounging for stories going forward than old man Lowe.