These are busy days for general managers as they scramble looking to make the best trades that will solidify their teams for a post reason run before the July 31st trade deadline. Phone calls are being made, emails and being sent and general managers and owners have a firm grip on their Blackberry’s.
No doubt, Omar Minaya is faithfully scanning the trade market looking for a way to sure up the Mets. The area of focus that needs improving, from most people’s opinion, is starting pitching and I would have to agree with that sentiment. The urgency to find another arm has been somewhat pacified by R.A. Dickey’s surprising resurgence to relevancy. But in truth, I remain skeptical that Dickey will continue to rival Johan Santana’s ERA this season and that he will end up being closer to his career ERA of 5.04. It’s tough to take much stock in what he is doing. How many pitchers redefine their careers at the age of 35? Not to say that I want Dickey to fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the team needs the extra arms, if not for Dickey at least for Hisanori Takahashi.
But there are several variables involved with the Mets landing a quality arm at the deadline:
- The pitcher they seek needs to be improvement over what they currently have and that is not always easy to find in the current trade market.
- The price has to be right. Apparently the commercial real estate business isn’t booming and the Mets are claiming that their ability to take on salary is limited.
- Then there are the players that the Mets must give up in order to land a pitcher. Are they willing to part with a player on the parent club? A minor leaguer? And for a team that needs to replenish their farm system with strong talent, it’s is a slippery slope as they don’t want to give away too much for what could be a “rent-a-pitcher” situation for the remainder of the year.
So who are the names that are on the trade block that the Mets could go after? The names that are being tossed about are Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Brett Myers.
From this list, only Haren and Myers are making less than $10 million this year, but even for Haren, the Mets would still have to be responsible for about $4 million and the number of prospects that Arizona would demand in return makes Haren a long shot.
Oswalt is too expensive and would cost too much in return for players. Besides, the Yankees will probably land him.
Westbrook wouldn’t cost the Mets a lot of players, but his $5 million salary is a lot to take on for a mediocre pitcher with a history of injury problems and a lifetime 4.34 ERA.
Ted Lilly is my personal choice but there are some issues even with him. First, from reports, the Mets are souring on Lilly as they have been concerned with his loss of velocity this year coming back from injury. Also the players the Mets would have to give up would be higher than Westbrook, but not as high as Haren or Oswalt. And there’s the matter of money, Lilly is probably more expensive than what the Mets are willing to spend. But the nice thing about Lilly, despite the loss of velocity, is that for the past 4 seasons Lilly has a cumulative WHIP of 1.14. He’s an attractive control pitcher but allows a lot of fly balls which gets him into trouble, especially at Wrigley Field. Home runs have been his downfall this year. But CitiField would be suppress some of those home runs and might offer him more success.
Lilly is also in his walk year and will become a free agent at the end of 2010, so he has a great deal of personal motivation to do well and New York would provide a nice stage to audition from. He’s also positioned himself as a type A free agent, so at the end of the year if the Mets offered him arbitration and he declined, the Mets could secure a couple of high draft picks from the team that eventually signs him. Something to think about for Omar.
However, the most attractive pitcher out there that really fits all of the Mets criteria is Brett Myers. He’s cheap, wouldn’t cost the team a lot of players and he’s done well enough this year to provide enough improvement of a pitcher like Takahashi who the Mets would prefer to send back to the bullpen. He’s not a bad option considering the Mets limitations and he has shown health this year which he has been the issue in the past. Even if something were to happen to him injury-wise, the $1.5 million the Mets would have to pay would be a low enough risk to take a gamble on Myers.
So those are some of the nuts and bolts of what the Mets are dealing with as the trade deadline approaches. The most likely scenario is that the Mets will go after Myers but not so much as to compromise their farm system. If the Mets don’t land Myers, there may be other options like Westbrook, with Cleveland eating a good portion of the salary. But at the end, the Mets might just stand pat which would be a shame as they are in the mix of things. But don’t be too disappointed if that happens, the Mets are so very good at raising the hopes of their fans and falling short. We should be used to it by now. The trade deadline may come and go with no significant changes. But of course, we’ll hold our breath and hope for something different, as Met fans do every year.