News Tuesday that is distressing to Mets fans and the team’s starting rotation — Ben Sheets and Jon Garland signed with other teams. The A’s locked up Sheets for a guaranteed $10 million plus incentives, while Garland came to an agreement with the Padres for $4.25 million.
While I advocated signing both of them, I do think the Mets were smart not to go as high as $10 million for Sheets. That’s a lot of money for a guy who just missed a season because of injury. Of course, if he is indeed healthy, $10 million is a bargain. I would have taken a chance in the $5-$7 million range, with a ton of incentives.
As far as Garland, the Padres got themselves a huge bargain. For less than $5 million, they get a guaranteed 200 innings. They may not be spectacular innings, but Garland knows what he’s doing out on the mound, and will give his team a good chance to win. There were reports Garland wanted to stay on the West coast, and the Mets, knowing that, never made a serious push for him. Too bad. Perhaps Garland could have been swayed by a couple of more million bucks.
So where does that leave the Mets? Barring a big trade (which, as I’ve said repeatedly, I can’t imagine Minaya isn’t working on), reports say the Mets have decided the best alternative may be John Smoltz (left). And that’s a sad commentary on where the Mets are at this point in time. When a nearly 43-year-old pitcher who tormented them for more than a decade when he pitched for their hated rivals is the best alternative, well, that just ain’t good. Smoltz managed just 15 starts last season with the Red Sox (which released him), and the Cardinals, finishing 3-8 with a 6.35 era. What makes the Mets think he’ll do any better when he’s a year older?
So what to do? As far as pitching, I have no idea (barring that mystery trade). What the Mets could do is just finally sign Orlando Hudson. Reports say the Nationals are interested, but only at around $3 million. The Rays are said to be kicking the tires on Hudson. But just like with the Nats, Hudson would have to substantially lower his $9 million asking price. The Mets could obviously outbid either of those teams. If they could get Hudson for, say, $5 million, that bargain price would soften the blow of having Luis Castillo’s $6 million sitting on the bench.
One piece of good news — Johan Santana threw off of a mound in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday (left). He said he felt good, that the elbow from which bone chips were removed did not give him any problems. “I felt pretty good, the ball was coming out pretty good, I feel like I did my mechanics with no problem and I didn’t feel anything in my arm.” The Mets will need a healthy Santana all season if they have any hope of contending in 2010.
Oliver Perez also threw. But really, who gives a crap?