Omar and the Mets should now be set to turn their attention to the mound immediately after Bay’s press conference today.Â The pool of free agent pitchersÂ that remain is not impressive in the least headlined by Ben Sheets, Jon Garland, and Joel Pineiro.Â However, Sheets really intrigues me and here’s why:
Big Ben is looking for at least a 1 year deal worth about $12 mill, just about what he made in 2008 while pitching for the Brewers.Â At one point this year both the Yanks and Red Sox have been rumored to be interested, but after the Lackey and Vazquez signingsÂ neither willÂ likely take the risk.Â Knowing the big dogs are probably out of the running and considering the initial $12 mill ask from Sheets will only come down, I cannot see how this is not a favorable option for the Mets considering the weak alternatives.Â
Obviously the major concern with Sheets is health as he is coming off elbow surgery and never even took the mound in 2009.Â Actually, the 31 year old has not pitched more than 200 innings since ’04.Â As a Met fan these numbers jump out much more to us than any other casual fan.Â This is simply because we are traumatized from last year.Â Never have I ever heard so much hype around “playing it safe” when it comes to the off-season from the media and our fanbase.Â Never have I seen the focus completely switch from talent and effectiveness to innings pitched/played when approaching the free market.Â What we need to understand is that last year was a freak season; one that we could neither prepare for or repair.Â Injuries decimated the Mets so badly last year that it has changed the way we are weighing talent this year.Â
Jon Garland is the model of consistency from an innings pitched perspective pitching at least 191 innings every year since ’02.Â Is he the answer?Â Nevermind his career 4.42 ERA or the fact that he couldn’t strike out Adam Dunn to save his life.Â Will consistency and durability bring us to the top of the NL?Â Maybe, for our core players at least.Â But not if its out of a guy like Garland when weÂ would still beÂ missing a #2 starter among many other things.Â
If guys start dropping like flies again this year Jon Garland and his 6 innings and 4 ER/game is not going to make a difference.Â Â We already have aÂ Mike Pelfrey.Â I can only hope the Mets front office does not feel this same conservativeness because of last year.Â Sheets has ace-like stuff and has the biggest upside out of the remaining pitchers.Â We have to be aggressive and take risks in the off-season, and at 1 year $8 mill lets say, the riskÂ is manageable.Â If he doesnt work out then we can pursue Beckett or another free agent next year in that stellar free agent class.Â The punishment: Johan gets a year older…although signing GarlandÂ or Pineiro wouldn’tÂ make the difference this year anyway.Â
Sheets is a 4 time All-Star and has an impressive 3.73 career ERA. The last we saw him in 2008 he was 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA with Milwaukee.Â Â If all the Mets would have to do is outbid possible teams like the Rangers (rumor has it GM Nolan Ryan favors Garland),the Cubs, or the Angels then we dig deep for the extra cash and get the most talented out of the bunch.Â If our scouts say he still has it, he’s worth the risk.