By Adam Warner
Editor's Note: This is Adam Warner's first submission to this blog. - M.S.
The Mets have had a terrific offseason in my humble opinion. Why dat? Because it is much about what you don't do as what you do. And in this December of Salary Madness, any long term signing avoided is a plus.
Suppose I listed 2 anonymous pitchers with the following stat line from last year.
Pitcher A; 15-13, 4.48 E.R.A., 7.52 K/9, 1.98 K/BB, .256 BA against.
Pitcher B: 6-5. 3.60 E.R.A., 7.10 K/9, 2.15 K/BB, .212 BA against.
Pitcher A is Ted Lilly, and just signed for 4 years and $40 million. Pitcher B is John Maine. And going further, their stats are virtually identical in terms of their innings per start, pitches per inning et. al..
The only difference is that Maine only pitched half a season. And it took the Mets a Lima or two to discover him. Lilly went 186 innings, something Maine may not be up to until 2008. On the other hand, Lilly is 30, and what you see it what you get. Maine is 25 and has a world of upside.
But that's not my point. Rather, that Omar's shrewd trading over the past year and simple recognition that inhouse options are always available for certain slots, has obviated the need to wildly overpay for utterly ordinary starters like Lilly and Gil Meche.
Not to mention assembling a nice setup group of (as of now) Heilman, Sanchez, Burgos, Feliciano, Vargas and maybe Mota for not much more than the cost of Chad Bradford.
And avoiding these horrible contracts gives the Mets more leeway to ultimately bring in a Barry Zito.
Will Zito be overpaid? Wildly. And it's unclear whether the Mets will match the Rangers big offer, or whether Zito takes less to come East.
But here's the real kicker. Most of these teams paying silly money are going to find themselves nowhere near the playoffs come July. And be ready to sell off some assets at 50 cents on the dollar to contenders in order to set themselves up to overspend again next offseason.
Bottom line is that I love the philosophy Omar has employed so far. Don't pay up for the back end of the rotation or middle of the bullpen. Lock in the young guns. Cost certainty, and plenty of cash in reserve ready to pounce.