Posted by JD on November 29, 2010
It’s starting to look like it might (at least to me, anyway). Consider the rotation as it stands today: with Johan Santana recovering from surgery to start the season, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese are the only established major league starters on the roster. In some ways, referring to this group as “established” is being kind: they each have questions to answer in 2011). Pelfrey can be solid (if unspectacular), but has been prone to extended streaks where he struggles to be average. Can he be more consistent next year? R.A. Dickey was a revelation this season, but he’s 36 and the 174 innings he pitched last season were a career high. Can he do it again? 2010 was Jon Niese’s first full season, and he’s struggled with injuries the past two season. Can he stay healthy long enough to contribute?
That being said, those three will anchor the rotation next season. John Maine has most likely played his last game with the team: I expect him to be non-tendered this week. Dillon Gee will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, as will Misch and probably Tobi Stoner. Misch is easily the most established (there’s that word again, used even more generously here) of the three, which can’t hurt. Add in Sandy Alderson’s (and Terry Collins’) comments about not wanting to rush prospects to the majors and that’s about it for in-house candidates.
There are, of course, outside candidates. Joe Janish of Mets Today put together a list of signable (read: not Cliff Lee) free agent pitchers last week, focusing on the risk/reward aspect of each. Having just returned from a trip to Atlantic City, I find some of these gambles attractive, particularly Chris Young. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing one of them to a one-year deal and hoping for the best, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve read in many places that the Mets’ off-season budget may be limited to $5 million. If that’s the case, these players may not fit in the Mets’ budget (even accounting for the discount generated by their injury histories). I mean, it could happen, but should the Mets really gamble on a pitcher with a history of injuries when their budget is so limited?
The next few days will see a number of pitchers hit free agency as the December 2nd non-tender deadline approaches. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of non-tender candidates. While there are some interesting names for the bullpen, the starting pitchers leave something to be desired. I’ve always liked Brian Bannister and he might benefit from making half his starts at Citi Field, but he’s always struggled with major league hitters and he’s been injury prone recently, too. I wouldn’t have taken a shot at Zach Duke before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, making that moot anyway. Jeff Karstens? Kyle Davies? I guess, at the right price. But it’s debatable whether their better than Misch or not.
Acquiring a starter via a trade is also a possibility. The Mets could possibly trade Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran (Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka might make some sense, I guess). Personally, I remain convinced that the Mets should refrain from trading either of those players until June, at the earliest. Their value is what it once was, but there’s still a reasonable chance that they can recapture most of it: it simply makes no sense to move them now. We’ll see.
In an effort to be fair to every candidate, I have to mention that Oliver Perez currently has a 10-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts in the Mexican Winter League. Whatever.
So, there you have it: based on the known available options (and their costs), Pat Misch will very likely be the fifth (or possibly even the fourth) starter in the rotation next year. Bill James predicts Misch’s 2011 season as: 23 games (12 starts), 75.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 50 strikeouts and 18 walks (2.78 K/BB ration) for a 4.20 ERA (4.19 FIP). Obviously, the counting numbers would be higher if Misch won the job out of spring training, but a 4.20/4.19 ERA/FIP for less than $1 million isn’t that bad. It’s less than optimal, but budget constraints make it one of the more plausible options available.
Posted in Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Offseason Moves, Oliver Perez, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, The Rotation | Tagged: Brian Bannister, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, John Maine, Jon Niese, Jose Reyes, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Pat Misch, R.A. Dickey, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, Tobi Stoner | 5 Comments »
Posted by JD on September 20, 2010
Carlos Beltran’s days on the Mets are numbered: whether it be an off-season trade (Ken Davidoff thinks there may be a market for him), a deadline deal in July, or simply letting his contract expire, Beltran will not be here in 2012. The player/team relationship has deteriorated to the point that a divorce seems inevitable. As much as it pains me to believe it, believing anything else is indulging in fantasy at this point.
Personally, I think the third option makes the most sense. An injured Beltran is better than most major league outfielders even if he insists on playing center field (which he probably will). Trading him at the deadline makes a good bit of sense, too. Sure, it’s a a gamble: he could get hurt again. But it would give him a few months to rebuild his trade value while giving the Mets their best chance to win in 2010. All that being said, I’m almost positive they’ll rush into it and trade Beltran this winter.
I’m hedging my bets: there’s every chance that whoever gets the GM job will realize that it’s better to hold on to Beltran rather than dumping him. But, given the way the Mets have operated over the past three seasons, the new GM may be pressured to move Beltran as soon as possible. It’s the least palatable option, but that’s no reason to say it won’t happen.
Davidoff lists the Cardinals and Red Sox as potential trade partners. I took a look at their roster commitments on Cot’s Baseball Contracts and saw a couple of possible trades that I think highlight the position that the Mets will be dealing from this off-season. Setting the table, Beltran will earn $18.5 million next year, $5.5 of which will be deferred for an unspecified period of time at 1.72% compounded interest. This is a key (if under-reported) figure: it means that Beltran will actually make “just” $13 million next season.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms of Bobby Bonilla’s contract by now. On July 1, he’ll begin receiving annual payments of $1.19 million from the Mets until 2036. Beltran has a similar arrangement, the main difference being that we don’t know how the future payments are structured. Let’s set aside the deferred $5.5 million from 2008, 2009, and 2010 for now (I’d love to say that they’ve $16.5 million stashed in a safe investment, but for some reason I doubt it). That leaves the $5.5 million from 2011, the key to which is the payment’s due date: the further out it is, the less that has to be invested today (here’s a primer on the time value of money). If it’s one year, the payment is worth about $5.4 million today. Ten years lowers the number to $4.64 million, 20 lowers it to $3.91 million, 25 lowers it to $3.59 million. We don’t know when the payments will be due, but we know that less than $5.5 million has to be set aside to cover it today. It’s a safe bet that the Mets would be willing to front whatever that number is, given that they can make up the difference in more profitable investments and that interest rates will surely go up (after all, the Great Recession is over). Wait, what?
Cheap shots aside, let’s use $13 million as a guideline: there are players on the Cardinals and Red Sox that come close to matching Beltran’s contract. On the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse is due to make $11.875 million in 2011 and 2012. He’s been mediocre (to be kind, he was injured this season) since signing his current contract and has a full no-trade clause. The Red Sox offer a similar option: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is due to make $10 million in 2011 and 2012. Dice-K has been less mediocre than Lohse (while pitching in the much more difficult AL East) but also has a full no-trade clause. Given the uncertainty in the Mets’ rotation next year, they might attempt to convince Lohse or Matsuzaka to waive their no-trade clauses (and, in the process, probably spend more money to do so).
There are undoubtedly more alternatives available should the Mets choose to get creative, but I think these two scenarios nicely highlight market conditions: they’ll have to acquire less talented players with longer contracts or pay the receiving team even more money to obtain higher quality players or prospects. The alternative is to hold on to Beltran long enough to regenerate his trade value (and reap the benefits of having him healthy and productive). This fan thinks it’s a no-brainer to keep Beltran, but I won’t put my money on that happening.
Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: Bobby Bonilla, Boston Red Sox, Carlos Beltran, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kyle Lohse, Mets, St. Louis Cardinals | Leave a Comment »