By Mike Steffanos
On Monday, Buster Olney opined in his ESPN Insider "blog" that the Mets needed to get a starting pitcher. (Wow, I think your Pulitzer is in the mail, buddy.) After suggesting that the Mets need to look at Mike Pelfrey before the trading deadline, Olney says if the kid doesn't work out, the Mets need to be prepared to bite the bullet:
And if [Pelfrey] doesn't work out, the Mets aggressively should pursue the best pitcher available, and be prepared to pay a steep price that might wound their future a bit. The 2006 Mets have most of the elements necessary to win a World Series, if Pedro Martinez is right.
If he's not right, they need a good solid replacement. The Mets' executives would kick themselves if they came all this way and then got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs because of a trade they didn't make.
I have to strongly disagree with him at this point. I think the Mets need to obtain a really solid starter and have a Pedro Martinez who is "right" in order to have a chance to beat whoever the AL sends to the series. If Pedro can't get it back together and be the pitcher he was early this year, the Mets have zero chance of winning a championship.
I'm not jumping on Tom Glavine just because he is enduring a personal slump right now, because no one is going to pitch as well as he was for the first couple of months for an entire season. He's been off on hitting his spots, and he's not getting away with it. I have every confidence that Glavine will figure out his mechanical glitches and pitch much better than he has over his last few starts. What I am not confident about, however, is that Tom Glavine will be able to be that truly dominant pitcher that he was early in the year.
The league has made adjustments to Glavine's new style of pitching, and batters no longer go up to the plate just sitting on the outside corner. Those inside pitches that they were swinging and missing or taking for called strikes are now being fouled off or even hit. Again, I have no doubt that Glavine will pick up his game, but I'm not sure I'd want to bet the ranch on him being an ace-type pitcher on a consistent basis again.
One of the questions the Mets must come up with the correct answer to is, can Pedro return to dominant form, and sustain that throughout the playoffs? If they do not believe the answer is yes, they should absolutely not consider a move that forces them to "pay a steep price that might wound their future a bit". What for? Only with a dominant Martinez, a solid Glavine, and another solid starter do the Mets have any chance of winning against any of the pitching-rich AL contenders. Only a championship is worth mortgaging the future for -- to make it into the World Series and get your ass kicked after giving up your future is a hollow "victory" indeed.
The Mets have some tough decisions to make, because the days of a lot of big players being moved at the deadline are long over. Jason Schmidt? The Giants are 2 games over .500, but only 1/2 game out of first. Barry Zito? The A's are in first place. If you panic, and feel that you have to make a move, you might wind up trading your future away for a pitcher that's not even good enough to make a difference. As much as I'd like to see the Mets go as far as they could this year, I wouldn't be willing to mortgage the future to make it a round or two deeper into the playoffs.
But wait, you say, the Mets are a "win now" team. Omar has to honor that and do whatever it takes to improve the club. I ask only one thing, why is this team considered to be "win now"? Especially if Martinez is unable to be an ace, I don't believe this stands up. The core of this team is mostly young, and some careful work this off-season could easily put them into a better position next year. Give Steve Trachsel a gold watch, a sincere handshake, and a polite boot out the door. Same (with sincere regrets) for Cliff Floyd, whose money could be better spent. Sign a Zito or a Schmidt. If you don't believe Milledge is the future for the Mets, nothing wrong with moving him, but take your time and make the best deal you can for him. At the trade deadline, with so many buyers and so few sellers, you're not going to get top dollar.
Two years ago we saw what happens when a team misjudges where they really are and pulls the trigger on deals that they regret. Zambrano and Benson didn't keep the Mets from falling out of the race then. While this Mets team will almost undoubtedly make the playoffs, I don't want to see them make another mistake for a deal that doesn't stand a really good chance of pushing them over the top. There would be no shame to take one more year to build the team that has a realistic chance of going all the way, especially if it also borrowed less from the team's future.
This posting is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.
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