By Mike Steffanos
I was somewhat surprised to find this in the Daily News today:
Mets GM Omar Minaya has let teams know that relievers Scott Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa can be obtained in trades, according to sources briefed on the players' availability. Schoeneweis has two years and $7.2 million left on his original three-year deal. Sosa will earn $2 million in his final year before free agency.
The Mets like Rule 5 pick Steven Register, who has a deceptive fastball, but will have to offer him back to the Rockies if there isn't room in the bullpen at Shea. Trading Sosa would open the long-relief role and help get Mike Pelfrey onto the staff in some capacity.
I'm not shocked that they're shopping Schoeneweis. He had a nice strong finish last season when the ship was sinking, but he's proven himself to be a LOOGY rather than the multi-purpose guy the Mets seemed to believe they were signing. With Pedro Feliciano established as a fine middle reliever and Ricardo Rincon as an intriguing non-roster invitee the Mets might find someone willing to take Schoeneweis and at least some of his salary off their hands.
I'm more skeptical of the willingness to deal Jorge Sosa at this point. They have so little depth in the rotation right now. Sosa gives them rotation insurance and did a credible job last season in relief. He's still relatively cheap. Sure, he's going to probably leave as a free agent after the season, but I find it hard to believe the Mets would part with Sosa unless it brought back someone who filled a big need (like a RH 1B/OF type with some power). On a team where depth is a question mark at so many positions I guess this is possible.
Still, I worry about the starting pitching. It's nice that Mike Pelfrey is stepping up with all of the concerns about Orlando Hernandez, but who provides rotation depth if El Duque starts the season on the DL? The kids on the farm are young, Jason Vargas has to prove that off-season surgery has given him back enough velocity to compete in the majors, and then you have the washed up vets like Tony Armas who inspire little confidence.
Speaking of little confidence, Oliver Perez' first start has already started the vultures circling. For what it's worth, Perez was even worse in his first spring start last year -- even going Nuke LaLoosh on a photographer during warm-ups. Spring training starts are supposed to be for getting the arm ready and mechanics back. Yet some in the press insist on treating these games as if a pitcher is pitching for real. I've watched enough spring training games now to expect a pitcher's velocity to be down in his first few starts, yet I keep reading about a guy being a few MPH under his norm as if this is really a story.
I think there are some legitimate things to worry about with these 2008 Mets. Depth and age seem a problem in several areas and, as mentioned, I'm not at all comfortable with the starting pitching depth beyond Pelfrey. We don't need to manufacture worries here.
Sorry for the short and late post today. I had a client meeting that took up most of my late morning and early afternoon.