Three possible stopgaps for the Mets’ 2014 rotation

The Mets have many questions heading into 2014, but in many respects the starting rotation could be the most pressing. With Matt Harvey out for the entire season – exception might be a few cameo starts in September – and Noah Syndergaard set to make his debut in June or July, the Mets need a big stopgap for a few months. If the season started today, the front three would be: Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee. However, that leaves two spots left in the rotation and I truly believe Jenrry Mejia can fill one of those spots, which brings it to one. What the Mets are looking for is a player that can be a quality pitcher to be flipped at the deadline. Here are three legitimate options.

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay:

At one point, this man was bound for Cooperstown and was dominating in his mid-thirties; in short terms he was beyond incredible. He hit a brick wall the past two seasons and has put his legacy in question which might make him perfect for the Mets. He could teach the other four pitchers in the rotation how to truly pitch year-in and year-out. The best part of this potential move is that he probably won’t cost much, and if he fails it won’t be too much of a big deal. I think this would be a great move if it works out, but not much of a Shaun Marcum if he fails.

Aaron Harang:

With his best years behind him he seems to be one to pass on, but he actually was pretty effective in May, June, and July of 2013- which would be the time to trade him. The biggest problem with the signing is that he has struggled immensely against NL East teams in his career. He probably isn’t the best option to be the stopgap, but he definitely isn’t the worst.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:

Before people criticize this idea, just hear me out as I highlight the stats. To begin, I was in attendance for his Mets debut so I am aware how lost this man can look. He was completely confused on pitching for his first three starts with an ERA at 10.95. He proceeded to finish with a 1.37 ERA against the Indians, Marlins, Phillies, and Reds. His walk rate might not be worth it, he may be inconsistent, and he hasn’t pitched more than 170 innings since 2007, but he is only 33. Signing Matsuzaka might be dicey but there is serious possible upside to this move.

I would have added Scott Kazmir, but the Mets said they aren’t going to bring him back. There’s a bunch of options that the Mets could explore in the offseason, but a contract for more than one year is not worth it. They need to find a guy that can be flipped at the deadline and nothing less.

51 comments for “Three possible stopgaps for the Mets’ 2014 rotation

  1. Les Gomez
    November 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I’d rather take a shot with Josh Johnson. If he returns to form, he’d be a great long term addition.

    • John Zakour
      November 20, 2013 at 12:24 am

      I too really liked Josh Johnson sadly it looks like he’s a Padre now.

    • Julian McCarthy
      November 20, 2013 at 10:54 am

      My article originally had Johnson, but I edited him out at the last minute when he signed.

    • November 22, 2013 at 1:40 am

      bronson arroyo needs to be met

      • November 22, 2013 at 7:03 am

        Why Rob?

  2. Name
    November 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    You start off saying that you’re identifying quality players who can be flipped at the deadline, yet you mention 2 guys who likely won’t get guaranteed major league deals…

    I’d consider the trio of Colby Lewis, Jeff Nienmann, and Ryan Vogelsong. They’re all likely to get 1 year deals and under 3-4 mil.

    • Julian McCarthy
      November 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

      It may be a stretch but Halladay, Matsuzaka, and Harang are probably more durable than Lewis, Niemann, and Vogelsong. Granted all six of them have injury history, however, Lewis, Niemann and Vogelsong were just injured this year but only Halladay was injured this year. I agree your three are good options, but I think the Mets want durability until the deadline.

      • November 20, 2013 at 11:04 am

        I think Halladay will want to pitch for a contender next season preferably in the National League(Dodgers,Pirates,Reds even Atlanta)

    • Jerry Grote
      November 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

      This is the right price point, although I daresay you’ll be hard pressed to see Vogelsong at $3-4MM. That would be a bargain and a half.

      • Name
        November 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm

        I think you’ll agree with me that the Giants love to overpay for players, right?

        They just declined an option on Vogelsong for 6.5 million, which pretty much puts a ceiling price on him. But he will probably be the most expensive of the bunch i mentioned, probably getting something close to what he made last year.

  3. November 20, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Julian the Giants re-signed an inconsistent and at times awful Tim Lincecum for 35 million dollars. What makes you think Halladay will sign cheap? There are so many viable options to sign with a winning team that can get him back to the World Series. I don’t see Halladay relishing any thoughts to coming here. It’s like expecting Cano to come here.

  4. Jerry Grote
    November 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

    The benchmarks here are Tim Hudson – who is ON THE IR – signing for 2/23 at age 39, and of course, Josh Johnson who actually took *less* at $8MM for a one year deal.

    Supposing here we will be dumpster diving for #5: Dice-K, Harang & Co and at that, it will shock me if they get in at less than $5MM. Consider this: Vogelsong got $5MM for last year, he probably won’t sign for less this year, and Dice/Harang < Vogelsong, a former CYA cand and AS.

    The flip side of value you can get for Montero, is that you pay through the a$$ for a complete question mark.

    • Jerry Grote
      November 20, 2013 at 8:25 am

      And I’m probably dreaming on Harang being in this group, but if he can be had for anything less than $8MM per year … I’d be on board with that.

      His last three NL ERA+ for 2011, 2012, 2013: 98, 105, 103 (limited innings).

      • Name
        November 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        Wait… you’re willing to give out up to 8 million a year for a 36 yr old #5/6 type pitcher and up to 5 million for the human time delay and all the while you think giving out 8.5 million to a 35 year old productive starting catcher and fan favorite is a massive overpay?

        While making 7 million this year, Harang was traded for a backup catcher who was released 2 months later, DFA by the team who just acquired him (really they wanted to get rid of the backup catcher’s contract) for a career minor leaguer, and then was DFA again later in the year. Basically he was given away three times for nothing.

        • Jerry Grote
          November 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

          OK … first of all, we are talking about a CATCHER in Ruiz. Before you go anywheres with that conversation, you will have to point out another 3 year deal offered to a catcher at 36,37, and 38. Don’t spend too much time looking for one.

          Second, the basis of my argument is that Harang has been capable of putting up an ERA+ of 100 or more in the NL. Let’s level set here: a 100+ ERA+ pretty much is the area of a #3 pitcher, and most #3s get around 6-9MM … ESPECIALLY if they are not home-grown talents. If you have to sign them, that’s the going price.

          Third, its possible Harang isn’t quite all that and he’s not quite worth the $8.

          But that doesn’t make the Ruiz contract anything but ridiculous. Its as stupid as the contracts to Pagan and Scutaro last year (and yes, I know Scutaro’s turned out ok so far) or the Hamilton or Pujols contract, or giving Cano 10/225.

          • Name
            November 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

            You seem to be using different standards for different players. For Harang, you’re judging his value based on what he did in the past. For Ruiz, you’re judging him by comps with other players.

            If i use the comp method with Harang, I can think of Roy Oswalt, Freddy Garcia, and Dice-K as older guys who just had finished terrible years and appear to be done. Dice-K of course we know had to settle for a minor league deal and was lucky to appear in the majors this season because the Mets were very unlucky in the injury department. Garcia was also signed on a minor league deal, released before ST, and signed another minor league deal. Oswalt had to wait until May to sign a deal in which he’d have a good shot of making of being promoted to the majors.

            If we take a look at Ruiz’s past, his OPS+ from 09-12 is 105,127,108,149. Catchers who can hit and field are not common, and most get paid 10+ million. 3/26 is a slight overpay if you only take a look at what the player does on the field, but you have to consider other factors such as age, leadership, mentorship, and symbolism.

            • Jerry Grote
              November 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

              I have only one comp with the Ruiz contract: that there is none. I can think of no catcher that has been given a three year deal that starts at his age. I’m almost certain Fisk was a year to year contract. AJP goes year to year.

              You might be older than me, Name, might not. I know I couldn’t bend down for nine innings at the age of 37 for 135 games, in the summer, and catch a 95 mph heater and throw out Billy Hamilton. And at that point, Carlos Ruiz will still have one more year.

              There’s every possibility that Carlos Ruiz hangs up 5 or 6 wins next year. And 2 for the rest of career. I suppose, on some level, that makes it worthwhile but not to me.

              For Harang, here is the only comp I need: Bronson Arroyo. Here’s a guy that gets $12 if not $14MM, possibly with a contract that extends to his 40th birthday. At 36 he’s a year older; and his ERA+ for the last three years has been 78, 110, 101 with 5 WAR. Harang’s been 98, 105, 103 with 2.8 WAR in the NL over the last three years.

              What’s more, Harang got paid $7MM last year and his last few starts in NYC did nothing to take away from that price tag. He’ll pitch 150 innings next year, if the last three years show us anything.

              Should the Mets sign Harang? Eh, I was probably wrong on that if what they are looking for is a #5. But if you ask me if the Mets should toss 2/$26MM at Arroyo or 1/$7 at Harang, I’m going with Harang all day long.

            • Jerry Grote
              November 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

              Check this out:

              It’s intended to filter out all the catchers that played from their age 36 to 38 seasons over the last 20 years. The only guys above three WAR were some of the greatest catchers of all time (I-Rod, 3.1, Posada, 3.7, and Santiago at 4.6, along with O’Brien).

              Based on $4.5M per WAR, Carlos Ruiz will have to be about 25% better than the best catcher in the last 20 years. It’s a long time to catch a baseball.

              • Name
                November 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

                Harang is much closer to the guys i listed before: Dice-K, Oswalt, Garcia than Arroyo. Current year performance should be given the most weight when determining future performance. Why are you completely ignoring what he did in Seattle this year?
                I’d be mildly surprised if he got a major league deal from any team this winter, let alone 7 million.

                An interesting factoid about Ruiz. He actually caught very little in the early part of his career. The first time he caught over 100 games was when he was 27 in 06. I’m also not sure why you are using your personal experience and comping it to Ruiz. These are professional athletes who keep their bodies are above that of a normal fellow and they keep it in tip-top shape(well, for most of them). They’re probably more athletic when they are 40 than when you were when you in your prime.

                • Jerry Grote
                  November 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

                  The comp to Dice K is bizarre. The only thing that makes him like Harang is that their both pitched for the Mets last year. He hasn’t approached a league average pitcher for five years. Harang’s basically been a little bit above league average his entire career.

                  Oswalt is likewise a bizarre comp. He was a premier pitcher, the best in the game, and his fall was meteoric. Comparing him to Harang/Arroyo doesn’t make sense at all.

                  Again – Ruiz can be 100% better than me, you, and everyone in the world. He needs to be 25% better than the three best catchers in the last twenty years to make that contract work.

                • Name
                  November 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm

                  I wasn’t comparing the careers of those 3 guys(there’s really no value in doing that), but rather at this point in time. Those guys all struggled mightily in 2012, much like Harang this year, are old*, and have diminished stuff.
                  Arroyo on the other hand, has still as success recently and appears to still have good stuff.
                  If any team is looking at Harang as anything more than a guy who can compete, not handed, for the 5th spot in the rotation, they either have 4 other starters so awesome that they can afford to punt every 5th game or is likely looking at a long long year.

                  *Dice-K was only 32 this year but with the way the coaches handle pitchers in Japan, his arm probably has the mileage and wear of a 35+ yr old.

  5. Bob
    November 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I agree with you on Matsuzaka, those last 4 starts bode well, I think he could be the best choice purely as a stopgap.

  6. November 20, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Then I guess the Mets are better off going with the kids and have them continue their learning curve. I see no point in signing any over-the-hill IR pitcher for 5 million dollars. For what?

  7. Metsense
    November 20, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I agree with your concept that if the Mets deem it necessary to sign a veteran that he should be one year and flipped at the trade deadline. I also think Mejia is the 4th starter.
    I also don’t see a problem for 5th starter with Torres in April, Montero promoted in May taking Torres spot, and then Syndergaard promoted in July and going to a six man rotation because of innings limits. deGrom is the rotation fill in in case of early season injury or is also a July promotion and goes into the bullpen. Sandy also could dumpster dive and keep a vet in AAA as insurance for an early season injury. Spend the money on the offense.

    • Name
      November 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      If the Mets don’t sign anyone and someone gets hurt, do they really want to turn to deGrom to start the season? He had a 4.80 ERA in AA last year!
      Solid SP is the most important factor for regular season success.

  8. Ruben DeJesus
    November 20, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Scott Feldman would be a good sign.

  9. amazin
    November 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Phil Hughes? How does he sound?

    • Julian McCarthy
      November 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

      I don’t think he would be a good idea because part of his struggles probably came with the intense media surrounding him in New York. Granted, he won’t allow that many homers here and there won’t be much pressure but I would take the media into consideration.

  10. November 20, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Between Feldman and Hughes I would take neither. There’s no point in spending any money on a “B” pitcher Since the Mets have plenty of young arms that can fill in AND at minimum salary Why risk 4-5 million on a pitcher whose resume is suspect at best? You’re going to get the same results.

  11. November 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Julian there’s always pressure when you pitch in New York. Especially if he signs for 1 year.

    • Julian McCarthy
      November 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

      But what I’m saying is that there is probably less pressure on the Mets than on the Yankees, at this point in time.

    • Jerry Grote
      November 20, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Pressure has nothing to do with it.

      Phil Hughes is the #3 or #4 pitcher on a team that has a payroll of $200MM. You want to take that guy, and pay him like he is the #5 pitcher on a team with a payroll of roughly half. Hughes got $7.5MM last year.

      Can you see how this is a square peg and a round hole? To gauge how the Mets will look to fill this spot, consider teams like the Royals, the Dbacks and Orioles … teams with $90 MM.

      The Orioles paid to get Scotty Feldman’s $6MM contract, and he was #5, in a pennant race this year (#3 and #4 were paid less, I believe). They will jettison him. Neither the Backs nor the Royals paid anyone anywhere near $6MM to take the 5th spot.

      It’s just dollars and cents, and looking at the benchmarks for teams around the league that spend $90MM. There’s at least four teams like the Mets.

      You aren’t getting $5MM to pick up 150 innings at slot #5.

      • November 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

        As I was saying before. No point in signing any “B” type pitcher(4-5 million) where any of the young pitchers the Mets have can fill the same role for minimum salary.

  12. November 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

    There’s more pressure because he’s seen as a Yankee in Met fans eyes. I can Hughes going out west. Maybe San Diego or Colorado. We’ll see.

  13. Metsfan 62
    November 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Phil Hughes in Colorado…… let the homer parade begin…… park would ruin his career. I think SD is more likely. He would enjoy success in Citifield, wary of him pitching in on the road tough,in certain parks. Like the concept of Halliday, Doc would be an asset, like adding another pitching coach, and tradeable at deadline when we can flip him for more talent. That is what I see as a possibilty with Grady Sizemore as well when dumpster diving. If he can still hit, deadline trade bait as well. Loads of AL teams look for a DH at the deadline. Trade Duda to the White Sox, Adam Dunn seems to have retired while playing on his contract, Kernecko is on the end of his career. I see the winning formula as speed, pitching, and defense at Citifield. We have proven we can win on the road, we need to learn to win at home.

  14. November 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    It’s nice to hear what you prefer Metsfan62 but I think it would be better if you put yourself in Halliday shoes and ask yourself why would you come here when there are so many teams in contention that can use a veteran arm like his to bolster their starting rotation. The Pirates, Reds, Dodgers, Braves all can use his services. So don’t be shocked if he signs 2 years for 15 million+.

    • Chris F
      November 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      For Doc? Yikes, I cant see more than 1/6. He looked like crap with a shoulder problem if I recall. That doesnt bode well.

      With SA having misjudged the FA market so poorly, looks like Hughes may be the perfect high ERA solution to the rotation…

      • Metsfan 62
        November 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        Sorry Chris my bad…. same answer.

      • November 22, 2013 at 7:03 am

        Chris that’s still a lot of money for the Mets.

    • Metsfan 62
      November 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Pete I am a realist here…. would love to have him……. but will we get him…. NO. Sometimes it is nice to dream in color. To often all I see is shades of gray.

      • November 22, 2013 at 7:01 am

        Ah! The good old days. When free agency was when you had your pick of the litter. My fantasy wish list is unrealistic too! CarGo in left, Choo in right and Peralta at short and a veteran at first base(Morneau?). Reality Young in left I have no idea in right, Tejada at short with Davis at first base with plenty of money left over to spend on free agents that the Mets are not going to sign.

  15. November 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    They should start Montero and Syndergaard. Both are ready for the next test.

    • norme
      November 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      That’s not how Sandy thinks. He’s not going to give up that extra year of control.

      • Name
        November 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        It’s not just Sandy. It’s (almost) everyone. Fernandez aside (which has Loria intervention written all over it), name a top prospect whose promotion was not determined to maximize value.

    • November 21, 2013 at 1:12 am

      James both will probably come up in late may or early June so that you can get an additional year of arbitration. Though I suspect Syndergaard will be brought up first followed by Montero.

  16. Sean Flattery
    November 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I agree they need to sign a veteran pitcher. It’s a must! Some good suggestions here. I think they’ll kick the tires on many until the market reveals itself.

    I think Paul Maholm is worth a look too.

    • Name
      November 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Maholm was rock solid in 2011 and 2012, and then for the first 7 games of 2013. Then something happened to him (of which i do not know) as he went on to post a 4.94 ERA in his final 19 games. His BABIP was a bit high at .333 compared to his normal .300 but he was on the DL for a part of August.
      If the market for him is a 1 year deal, i’d consider him too as his pricetag shouldn’t be more than 3-4 mil, which is about what i think the Mets should spend on SP this winter.

    • November 21, 2013 at 1:27 am

      I agree Sean. But don’t spend what you don’t have to is SA’s motto and instead of let’s make a deal it’s let’s wait them out.

  17. mega
    November 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I will be upset if Montero does not get the nod. 348 IP, 16 HR allowed, 5 to 1 bb:k ratio.

    • Name
      November 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      I’d be more upset if he’s eligible to be a free agent in 2020 instead of 2021.
      Keep him down for 20 days when he’s young and inexperienced, get an extra year of him when he’s in his prime and well-seasoned.

  18. November 21, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Jerry Grote. 7 million dollars for a number 5 starter? Are you kidding me? Why? Do you really think SA who is the king of dumpster shopping is going to go to Bloomingdale’s for a number 5 starter when he can have his pick of any youngster at 500,000 dollars? Harang isn’t going to make any difference on a team that will win 75 or 80 games. Keep the 7 mil in your pocket and forget this team signing any starter to a contract over 1 million. By now we should have an understanding as to how SA approaches free agency.

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