Where will the pitching come from for the Mets?

Despite a flurry of off-season moves by teams all over the Majors – some more surprising than others – the Mets are the only team in MLB that has not signed a single free agent to a Major League deal.

They committed to franchise player David Wright by signing him to a $138 million contract extension and they traded away NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. They received promising young prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard in return, but the remainder of their off-season moves have left much to desire.

One thing is very clear. The Mets need starting pitching.

MLB Depth Charts shows the Mets’ projected rotation for 2013 as Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia.

Harvey impressed in 10 starts last year and Mejia has potential – despite only one MLB win under his belt – but neither has seen a lot of action at the MLB level. The inexperience could spell trouble for the back end of the team’s rotation.

With the loss of Dickey, GM Sandy Alderson is looking for someone to take his spot in the starting rotation and he recently pointed to the free agent market as a possibility.

“I would expect that we will acquire someone who is not necessarily a swingman, but somebody to whom we’re going to have to commit a starting role,” Alderson told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

“We’re probably going to have to commit. And actually that’s one of our attractions. We have now a starting pitching opening, and we can attract the type of pitcher that we hope can get us 10 or 12 wins.”

Alderson could be speaking about someone like Shaun Marcum who has not had a losing record as a starter in the past five seasons. He fits the description of the 10 – 12 win type of pitcher that Alderson mentioned. Marcum has a history of elbow issues, which is certainly a red flag, but if he remains healthy and his price is right – something similar to the two-year, $10 million deals signed by Kevin Correia and Carlos Villanueva – the Mets should nab him.

The Mets could also get reacquainted with free agent Chris Young. The 33-year old righthander pitched 115 innings for New York last season – his most since 2007. Young could be a veteran addition acquired at a bargain basement price, but he comes with risk, having a history of shoulder and arm problems. If Alderson can get him at the price tag of $1.1 million like he did in 2011 he should go for it.

Joe Saunders is also still available on the market but he has been linked to the O’s. A couple of interesting names that the Mets could look into include Jair Jurrjens and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

It was just two seasons ago that Jurrjens was an All-Star for Atlanta, going 13-6 with an earned run average of 2.96. The native of Curacao has since had to deal with leg, groin and shoulder injuries and saw a major decline in velocity last season. His fastball dropped from 93 mph from when he broke into the majors to 88 mph last season. Jurrjens should be had on an inexpensive one-year deal and could potentially be a low-risk, high-reward addition for the Mets if he can turn things around and stay healthy.

Aside from one really good season in 2008, Matsuzaka was a complete bust in Boston. That doesn’t mean he’s not worth a look though.

The Mets need affordable starting pitching and Matsuzaka could benefit from a switch of scenery.

The native of Tokyo is only 32 years of age and despite rumors that said he was overworked in Japan, Matsuzaka averaged 175.3 innings pitched in eight seasons with the Seibu Lions. Not too extraordinary of a number when you consider MLB workhorses average close to 200 innings per season. He does run up high pitch counts and had elbow reconstructive surgery in 2011, but he may be worth a gamble if a Marcum addition isn’t possible. According to Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Matsuzaka “told a member of the Japanese media that money is not the biggest issue,” so he should be considered a possibility, too.

Wherever the Mets decide to go for starting pitching, it is definitely something they need to address if they hope to have any chance of contending for the NL East crown in 2013.

14 comments for “Where will the pitching come from for the Mets?

  1. TJ
    January 4, 2013 at 8:39 am

    At this point in January, I think Alderson is still finding it quite diffiecult to find that 10-12 win starter that he promised on his terms – only a 1 year commitment, most likely with a ceiling of $7 to $8 million. This is an absolute must, since both Santana and Gee are returning from injury, Wheeler’s timeline is unknown, and Harvey,despite his impressive 2012, could possibly falter in his sophmore campaign. They also need another quality arm in the pen, someone with some MLB closing experience, as FF insurance.

  2. January 4, 2013 at 8:46 am

    The Mets are window shopping. What’s the point of going after reclamation projects? So the Mets win 80-85 games as opposed to 75-80? Why continue down that path year in and year out? Looking for magic in pitchers who have had major injuries in their recent past. Why can’t the Mets just go with the kids and stop throwing away money they don’t have? Maybe, just maybe we have one of them grow into the pitcher we keep hearing they might become. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if they don’t measure up to our expectations they will at least gain valuable experience in preparing for 2014.

    • Joe
      January 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      “What’s the point of going after reclamation projects?”
      See Dickey, R.A.
      “So the Mets win 80-85 games as opposed to 75-80?”
      I would be shocked if a middle of the rotation starter would have that big of an impact on the team.
      “Why can’t the Mets just go with the kids and stop throwing away money they don’t have?”
      1 year contracts at $7-8 million isn’t throwing away money. They are going with the kids (see Harvey, Matt) but the problem is some are not ready yet (Wheeler) and others will be up in 20 days, but to gain an extra year of team control they will be kept in the minors (D’Arnaud). The youth movement is on, but you can’t rush prospects, because if they don’t learn how to pitch in the minors, the results at the major league level will be disasterous (see Pelfrey, Mike).
      “Maybe, just maybe we have one of them grow into the pitcher we keep hearing they might become.”
      You mean like Harvey looked to be in his 10 game audition? Like how Wheeler could be with a little more polish at AAA? Give them time and barring the unforeseen, they will develop.
      “What’s the worst that can happen?”
      We call the players up too early, they are not ready, they have horrible results and become ruined. Recent Mets examples: Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Martinez, Alex Escobar, Alex Ochoa, etc. Jenrry Mejia may join that list in the future.
      “Even if they don’t measure up to our expectations they will at least gain valuable experience in preparing for 2014.”
      They’ll get experience in Las Vegas too. It will be better because in the minors you can make mistakes and get away with them in a way you can’t in the majors. Once you go to the majors, hitters are more patient and less likely to be blown away by a 98 MPH fastball. In the minors you can get away with just throwing, in the majors you have to be able to pitch. That is why you leave the prospects in the minors until they can pitch, not just throw.

      • Name
        January 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        Well said Joe.

  3. Joe Gomes
    January 4, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Shouldn’t the Mets find out once and for all what they have in Mejia? If that doesn’t work, they still have Hefner, Familia, McHugh and later on Wheeler. It is a 5th slot they are trying to fill, not the first.

    This is also why the Mets knowing they were shopping Dickey should have kept Pelfrey. But these are the new “large market” Mets.

    • Mebevinny
      January 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

      I think the Mets are happy with the starters coming down the pike. It’s outfield we need. Three of them, two at the very least…even .280 hitting platoons.

  4. Mebevinny
    January 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

    What the Mets need most is an offense.

    Look, the Mets aren’t winning anything this year, so Santana, Niese, Gee, Harvey, Mejia/Wheeler is just fine with me, leading to Niese/Harvey/Wheeler/Gee in 2014, and maybe Syndergaard’s ready in ’15.

    The Mets scored 3 or less runs in 83 games last year. 83. They got shut out 12 times. 7 of them in well pitched games by the Met starter. Maybe two outfielders swings the offense and adds five wins. But looking for a starter upgrade when there is no offense to win the game is silly.

  5. Name
    January 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Nooooo not Dice-K. Please. No. Never.
    He’s a 5IP at best, takes 5 minutes between every pitch. Bringing in the Japanesse media and some extra fans is not worth 5 hour blowout losses every 5 days.

    Personally, i love Marcum, but he does have a significant injury history. When healthy, he could be a reliable #2 or #3.
    On the other hand, i’ve never really liked Saunders, and giving him a 3 year deal is just silly.

    Believe it or not, i actually like the recently signed Aaron Laffey to be the 5th starter to start the season. He certainly doesn’t do anything overly impressive, but when he does pitch, he doesn’t hurt the ballclub (never had a negative WAR)

  6. JoeG
    January 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Mebevinny, I agree 1000%. Where are the Offence “add-ons”. One example:Russ Canzler of/1b who hits from the right side has been cut and picked up twice now, the lastest by the Yanks. :(

  7. Metsense
    January 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    The Mets are in rebuilding mode for 2013 so it is difficult to follow the thinking of the front office in spending 7 million on a starting pitcher when there are so many gaping holes in the OF. Wheeler,Mejia, Familia, Heffner, Laffey and McHugh should all be competeing for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training. The best arm should get the spot. If Wheeler, Mejia or McHugh loses then they can go to AAA. If Heffner or Laffey lose then one could go to AAA and the other be the long man. If Familia loses then determine if he could stick in the bullpen or ,if not, ship him to AAA. If the Mets are so inclined that they want a veteran presence then maybe add a Kevin Millwood or Jeff Karstens to the mix on the cheap but don’t promise them a rotation spot.

  8. jerseymet
    January 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Play what we have. Bring Young back as filler. 13 months till spring training 2014. Lets go Mets!

  9. January 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Hey Joe you kinda taking the argument from both sides. If you don’t go with the kids because you feel they’re not ready then you will need to sign at least one free agent starter. Gee and Santana are both coming back from injuries. And you need to replace R.A.’s 200 + innings. Pitchers are always going to make mistakes. It’s a learning curve. If you feel that bringing up one of the kids as a 5th starter then you have to fill the spot outside of the organization with a free agent.

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