By Mike Steffanos
In today's Daily News, Bill Madden pens a column about the difficult task that both Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman will face trying to add pitching in a market that has soared out of control. It's not the sort of column that you usually see around here -- much more common is the typical Wallace Matthews brainless yet strident demand that Minaya pursue the superstar of his choice. Madden's thoughtful column does a nice job of pointing out all of the pitfalls of what is available to bolster the rotation next season.
Madden notes the obvious regarding Daisuke Matsuzaka, in that he is a complete unknown coming into American baseball. Beyond Matsuzaka, there is very little available as far as power pitchers in the market. Madden makes this point about Barry Zito:
On the surface, Barry Zito is an attraction, but he's not a power pitcher... And even though Zito has a history with Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, his rep, Scott (Avenging Agent) Boras is going to be seeking upwards of $14 million a year for him, more than the Mets are already paying Martinez. It's going to be way too much money and years for a pitcher who is good but not dominant, and only nine games over .500 since 2003.
To me, the biggest problem with Zito isn't even the dollar amount per year, it's the number of years that Boras will likely pry out of whatever team wins the Zito sweepstakes. Granted, Barry is still on the right side of 30, but this is a guy who has already logged 1,400 + major league innings, and has shown some signs of declining at an age when he should be peaking. Let's take a look at the numbers:
Zito's hits and walks given up (and of course WHIP) are trending up, as is the number of home runs given up. Certainly he's a guy who can benefit from moving to the National League, but it is somewhat worrisome that his numbers are heading in the wrong direction at an age when he should be at the apex of his career. What might be a reasonable gamble in money over the next 3 seasons might be prohibitive if he can get the 6 year contract Boras covets. It's a huge gamble, and a wrong guess can tie up a lot of payroll on an average-plus major league starter. If he develops a serious career-threatening injury, that could be a disaster.
I'm beginning to suspect that the Mets will find the starting pitching they require for 2007 from a less obvious source than the names that are currently being thrown around. I'm not trying to talk any of you out of wanting Zito if that's your feelings, but Madden makes some solid points here.
The problem with the current inflated starting pitching market is that nothing is going to change anytime soon. More teams are legitimate competitors for a playoff spot, and they all have money to spend for a commodity that usually separates the contenders from pretenders -- starting pitching. It's crucial that the Mets find a way to develop some of their young, talented arms into major league starters. That's why I could never personally be in favor of any trade that would send a truly promising young pitcher out of here -- including the young and proven Heilman -- and doesn't bring back a young pitcher in return. In the next few years, teams like the Red Sox who have a glut of attractive arms in their farm system will find it much easier to stay competitive on a yearly basis. Teams that don't will have to roll the dice and hope for the best from an increasingly thin and over-heated marketplace.
Mets Walkoffs: Collectibles
I love Mets Walkoffs' take on the true value of memorabilia in this excellent post.
Web sites to check out
It's Outta Here! is a web site that I recently added to my links. He seems to be posting several times a day and keeping up with the news, so I've moved the link from "Mets Blogs" to "Latest Mets News" on the sidebar.
I received an e-mail from Ben at TopProspectAlert.com yesterday:
Mike, I published our New York Mets Top 10 Prospect List as compiled by J.P Schwartz on our site today. Just wanted to pass along the info as I thought it may be of interest to your readers.
The site seems a little heavy on adds and somewhat light on content, but I don't begrudge anyone trying to make a living off the Internet. If you're one that enjoys new prospect lists, check it out.
On the road again
I'll be leaving later today to take a short vacation. I plan to take a few days, try to figure some things for my future and just generally relax. I'll be back by Thursday. If I get the chance, I'll try to post a time or two while I'm away. If not, I'll catch up on anything that happens when I return.