With the Winter Meetings about to commence this week, the Mets are about to begin the process of tweaking the current roster. Although GM Sandy Alderson has promised to come back with new players, don’t expect a major overhaul since the Mets are working with a limited budget.

On Friday, the club, as expected, officially tendered Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Angel Pagan. The club nontendered outfielder Chris Carter and pitchers Sean Green and John Maine, most likely signaling and end to their careers as Mets.

Lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano also declined arbitration this week, and indications are that the Mets won’t pony up the bucks for a new contract.

So where does that leave the Mets heading into the 2011 season?

Well, the Mets certainly need to add some pitching depth (a back end starter with potential for more), middle relief (especially a lefty specialist), a fourth outfielder and perhaps a backup catcher depending on whether they want to bring back Henry Blanco.

At the heart of the matter for the Mets, though, is bringing in new arms. As you’re all probably aware, the Mets will not be opening their checkbook for a high-end starter. Instead, Alderson and company will be looking for those low-risk high-reward type pitchers.

Alderson and his staff will be looking at reclamation projects who have the potential to turn out to be real gems. On top of the list is San Diego’s Chris Young. Other names floating out there include Jeff Francis, Jeremy Bonderman, and perhaps Brandon Webb.

At the forefront of talks is Young. No offer is on the table at this moment, but it seems imminent. Young has had a previous relationship with Alderson and Paul DePodesta, when Alderson and DePodesta worked in San Diego. They know what Young can bring to the table when he is healthy.

However, Yong has never been the picture of perfect health. Last year Young missed most of the season(only making four starts) with a strained right shoulder. Young has had serious injuries in his last three years in the majors, only making 36 starts in that time. But, when he is pitching, he is one of the game’s better pitchers. He is a flyball pitcher who could make a seamless transition to Citi Field, since he spent all of his career pitching in spacious Petco Park. For his career, Young has a 3.79 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

It may be a risk, but it’s one the Mets think might be worth taking, especially when discussing short-term deals.

Along those same lines, the Mets have their eyes on Francis and Bonderman as well.

Francis was instrumental in the Rockies advancing to the World Series in 2007 when he posted 17 wins. He missed all of the 2009 season, and only pitched in 20 games last season. Francis certainly has plenty of upside and pitching in cavernous Citi Field, as opposed to Coors Field, can do wonders for his career. At 29, Francis still has plenty left in the tank.

Bonderman is also another curious case. Bonderman, who pitched a full season last year after two injury ravaged seasons in 2008 and 2009, can also be had a discounted price. Although, he showed he was relatively healthy last year, Bonderman was not that impressive. In 29 starts, Bonderman went 8 and 10 with a 5.52 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Bonderman is a power pitcher who is adjusting to pitch with more finesse. The upside with Bonderman is just not worth the risk.

Maybe worth the risk is Brandon Webb. Remember him?

Webb was one of the game’s most dominating pitchers for the better part of the decade. In 2006, he won the NL CY Young, but missed most of the last two years with shoulder injuries. When healthy, Webb is one of the better sinker-ball pitchers around. He is yet another pitcher who can resurrect his career pitching in Citi Field.

The Mets are said to be doing their due diligence, and they are being extremely careful with these so-called reclamation projects. The Mets don’t want to make the same mistake the A’s did when they signed Ben Sheets to an expensive contact last off-season. However, there is a strong likelihood that by the end of the Winter Meetings, one of the above mentioned could be signed.

The pickings are slim at pitcher, as some of the candidates the Mets have had their eye on have signed elsewhere like Jon Garland, Ted Lilly and Javier Vasquez.

Another note of interest is the groundswell support to keep embattled Oliver Perez on the roster and make him the team’s lefty specialist.

I can’t say I like that idea, but if the team is intent on keeping him and his contract around, than this is the role I see best suited for him.

As for middle relief, it’s hard to say what options they may look at, but two pitchers of interest that were nontendered on Friday were Hideki Okajima and Bobby Jenks.

Again, expect the Mets to be very active at the meetings, maybe even exploring trading Jose Reyes or trying to acquire a second baseman (reports are Alderson wants Ruben Tejada to start off in the minors), but the bottom line is they won’t be breaking the bank to do so.

2 comments on “Mets Pitch: Low risk, High reward

  • Mike Koehler

    Middle relievers are a dime a dozen, see Carrasco.

  • Dan Stack

    Tell em about it, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

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