Here is part 2 of my offseason recommendations series. Next up is the starting rotation.
Projected starting position players, prior to trades/signings:
#1 – Johan Santana
#2 – Mike Pelfrey
#3 – John Maine
#4 - ????
#5 - ????
Despite the knee surgery, I think Johan will be healthy and have a season similar to 2008. Hopefully Pelfrey is not affected by the amount innings he threw this season, and continues to progress. Maine I’m not so sure about. He will be coming off shoulder surgery, and wasn’t having a great 2008 before his injury. I’m a fan of Maine’s so I want him to be a contributor, but he is not a definite. From reputable writers, I’ve read that pitchers like Zach Greinke and Matt Cain are on the trading block. Both will require packages with major league ready players, and I’m not sure what kind of deal Omar Minaya could put together. Otherwise, here are free agent options, with Type A or B projection:
Jon Garland (Type B): Please do not look at Garland’s win totals when evaluating him. He has played on some teams with strong offenses and bullpens, (2005 White Sox, 2008 Angels) capable of aiding that W-L record. Garland gives up a ton of hits and doesn’t strike out many (career K/9 of 4.71… yikes). However, he is durable, and has made atleast 32 starts and 191.2 IP every season since becoming a full member of a rotation. He will probably be looking for $10 million a year in a multi-year deal.
Derek Lowe (Type A): Lowe has been quietly strong since coming to the Dodgers in 2005. His 2008 was his best as a Dodger, as he posted 1.13 WHIP and tied a career high with 147 K’s. The K total is more impressive considering he is a sinkerball pitcher in the mold of Brandon Webb (career 64.4 GB% for Lowe, 64.3 GB% for Webb). A concern here is that Lowe is 35 years old.
Odalis Perez: I’m including Perez because he could be useful to take a flier on as 5th starter. I can’t imagine a big demand for a guy who averaged about 5 IP per start with a 1.49 WHIP in 2008, so he would probably come cheap. He is 31 years old, and hasn’t lost any off his fastball in the last 4 seasons (although that fastball is an underwhelming 88 mph).
Oliver Perez (Type A): Ollie and his agent Scott Boras are likely looking for $60 million over 5 years, according to Jon Heyman at SI. This is too much to shell out for a guy who led the league in walks in 2008, with a 1.40 WHIP and slightly below league average ERA. I’d be in favor of re-signing Ollie for about $15 million over 3 years but that's it.
C.C. Sabathia (Type A): C.C.’s performance 2008 did nothing but drive up his already exorbitant value this offseason. The latest figure is 6 years at $144 million. Obviously, a rotation featuring C.C. and Johan at the top would be the best in baseball, trumping Brandon Webb and Dan Haren in Arizona. There is concern about the number of innings he’s thrown, and the short rest he pitched on at the end of this season. A lot has been said about his desire to pitch closer to his home in California, but in the end I think he’ll sign with the team that gives him the most money – I mean – shows him the most “respect”.
Randy Wolf (Type B): Wolf has been a Met killer (3.34 ERA in 174 career IP) since his days in Philadelphia. He is 32 years old and has a history of arm injuries, but is nonetheless an interesting pitcher to consider.
I think the Mets should make a serious run at C.C. Sabathia. It will cost a ton of money, but he is the best pitcher on the market and may prefer to stay in the NL where he dominated in 2008. The Yankees have deeper pockets, and I think he will ultimately sign in the Bronx. More realistically, I would look at Derek Lowe for a 3-4 year contract at about $12-14 million per. I like Lowe’s durability, low walk totals (2.53 BB/9 for his career) and few home runs allowed (0.72 HR/9 for his career). Plus he has playoff experience and a World Series ring, if that stuff matters to you. Oddly enough, I’m rooting for a bad playoff performance the rest of the way for Lowe, so his value isn’t driven up too high.
Additionally, I think Odalis Perez should be looked at as a potential 5th starter. If a trade can’t be executed to acquire a starting pitcher, the Mets are looking at Jon Niese or someone else from within the organization to be the #5. Why not give Perez a shot on a 1 year, $1-$2 million deal?
Projected realistic 2009 starting rotation, if I had it my way:
#1 – Johan Santana
#2 – Derek Lowe
#3 – Mike Pelfrey
#4 – John Maine
#5 – Odalis Perez/Jon Niese/Jose Lima
(note: obviously, I'm just kidding about Lima Time!)
The rotation was strong this season, but the loss of Oliver Perez must be addressed. I think this projected rotation is an improvement from 2008. Feel free to agree or disagree with any of this, and check back for my bullpen recommendations tomorrow.