The Mets’ 2011 Rotation

It seems like an odd thing to say about a team currently sitting at 67-71, but next year's version of the New York Mets may not have room at the inn for additional acquisitions.

Currently starting for the Mets are four pitchers who have certainly performed well enough to be relied upon in 2011, while a fifth, currently auditioning, has the best stuff of any of them. Furthermore, all five are under team control for next year.

Let's break the staff down:

Next year's Opening Day starter is likely to be Johan Santana, who has weathered an alarming early-season slide to become the Santana the Mets expected when they signed him to a six-year, $137.5MM contract after trading for him in in February 2008. Through the end of June, Santana pitched to a respectable 3.55 ERA, but that masked a strikeout rate on the season of just 5.7 K/9, down more than two per nine from his 2008-2009 levels.

Since July 1, however, Santana has a 2.37 ERA, with a far stronger 7.4 K/9. It appears that temporary dip may have been Santana recovering from elbow surgery – Santana appears to believe that's the case. It is certainly a relief to the Mets, who owe Santana $22.5MM in 2011, $24MM in 2012 and $25MM in 2013.

Meanwhile, the best ERA among the starters belongs not to Santana, but to R.A. Dickey, who actually began the year in Triple-A. And while it is tempting to believe a 2.91 ERA from a 35-year-old pitcher who entered the season with a career 5.43 ERA is a fluke, there are plenty of reasons to believe otherwise in this case.

For one thing, Dickey has only been relying on his knuckleball for five years and his minor league performance has improved steadily since. For another, his peripherals are quite good, particularly his 2.2 walks per nine innings, despite throwing a huge majority of knucklers, a notoriously hard pitch to control.

With his limited time in the major leagues, Dickey has yet to accrue enough service time for free agency, so the Mets control him merely by offering arbitration. The smart money here is on the two sides agreeing to a multi-year deal that avoids arbitration and provides Dickey with some security. Remember: Phil Niekro had 12 200-plus inning seasons after age 35. The clock is different with knuckleball pitchers.

Another mainstay for 2011 is Jon Niese, who has impressed all year long and now has a 3.85 ERA with 3.0 walks and 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings. His numbers are actually skewed by three recent poor starts; the Mets have left Niese in games until he looked fatigued, rather than managing his workload more cautiously. 

The fourth horseman for the Mets is Mike Pelfrey, who seems to constantly be disappointing people who are waiting for him to be something other than a reliable innings-eater. Pelfrey's fluctuating ERA- 3.72 in 2008, 5.03 in 2009, 3.96 in 2010- is almost entirely a function of luck and defense, with peripherals staying ludicrously consistent in all three seasons. Even during his 10-2, 2.93 ERA start in 2010, his strikeout rate never reached six per nine innings. Pelfrey will almost certainly be offered arbitration and remain in the rotation in 2011.

That leaves the fifth spot, and Jenrry Mejia, the 20-year-old with the blazing fastball and intermittent command of his secondary pitches, aims to fill the role. He made his first major league start last Saturday, after his lone Triple-A start.

It is nearly impossible to know exactly what Mejia can give the Mets in 2011. His upside is certainly high, with terrific movement on his curveball and changeup to go along with a major league fastball that sits in the mid-nineties. But he is also an inexperienced pitcher with no track record of starting success, aside from a combined 17 starts above Single-A.

Still, with plenty of other holes and signals from the team that very little money will be spent this offseason, Mejia will likely get the opportunity to learn on the job.

One can imagine the only opportunities New York will have for starters in 2011 will be in the area of organizational depth. If Mejia falters, or one of the other four pitchers gets injured, the only Plan Bs available right now are the underwhelming Dillon Gee (who starts tonight) and Tobi Stoner, or the much-maligned Oliver Perez, who will head to the Mexican League after the season and try to find his fastball.

91 Responses to The Mets’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. Guest 5 years ago

    It’s a pretty solid rotation. If Dickey stays like has been, expect good things from there. Now for the offense…

    • basemonkey 5 years ago

      if the Mets go into 2011 with this staff they will get in trouble. It’s not a matter of “if” someone gets hurt, it’s a matter of “when” as every pitching staff goes through, so you’re 6th, 7th, and even 8th options get called on through a long season. They have some promise in Mejia (who I fear the Mets are ruining by rushing him so badly), and a strong top guy in Santana (who I think could have a strong bounce back season), but it’s kind of a crapshoot with Pelfrey. You want to believe he’ll click and have one of his good runs and never look back, but being intellectually honest, you can’t count on that. It’s most likely that he has another up and down season, with about 10 or so good ones, 10 or so bad ones, and everything else in between, overall a .500 pitcher.

      • amuro316 5 years ago

        There’s really no actual evidence that the Mets pitching staff will get hurt. Johan has been working through the offseason surgery, but that’s about it. Pelfrey, Niese, and Dickey haven’t had injury histories, either. And Meija is an unknown.

        Pelfrey’s problem this year was mostly that he was tipping his pitches for about 5 or so starts. He also needs a defense behind him- since he’s a groundball pitcher- to help him out. Also, take a look at his early career- Rick Peterson tried to turn him into a pitcher that he wasn’t. And then the Mets just never, ever, hit for him (until tha magical 2008 run). He ran into the same kind of problems this year, which is one of the reasons why he had command problems for a while.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          Every pitching staff always has some injuries.

          • amuro316 5 years ago

            That’s a nice generalized maxim, but it’s still a logical falliacy. Doesn’t prove anything.

          • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

            How is it a logical fallacy, can you name the last pitching staff that didn’t have a member get injured at some time during the year?

          • amuro316 5 years ago

            It doesn’t actually address what I said; that the Mets pitching staff generally has not had any history of injuries. Sure, Johan hurt his pec muscle, but beyond that, he’s generally been injury free for his career- or will pitch through it. There is no body of injury history out there for Pelfrey, Niese, and Dickey. Just saying “every pitching staff always has some injuries’ does not address my point: calling the Mets fragile, as the basemonkey said, is completely wrong.

            You always want more pitchers to work with- and that’s because of potential injuries or total Oliver Perez levels of suckitude. But it’s not because of any mythical “Mets pitchers are injury prone” nonsense.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            I didn’t say they were fragile.I just said that to field a true playoff caliber team, you need to go more than just 5 men deep. Championship clubs are deep, even to the minors. If the Mets went into the season relying on the above-mentioned 5, and they suffer no health issues, then they will already have a unique season.Saying that the pitching staff in ’11 will have to withstand injuries goes for every club. The difference with the Mets is that they don’t have the kind of pitching depth in the minors, or bullpen, to cover those losses if they happen. Saying that the pitching staff will have to withstand injuries is akin to saying a NFL team will have to deal with injuries. It’s just a part of the game and it is going to happen. The better teams just plan for that, or at least the ones who intend to reach the playoffs and perhaps win it all.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            It’s not some kind of unprovable myth. Name one staff this year that hasn’t endured some kind of health issue? I don’t think there’s one.

          • Here ya go: Through Sept. 1, the Padres’ starting rotation of Jon Garland, Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, Kevin Correia and Wade LeBlanc combined to make all but two of the club’s 132 starts.

            I don’t think start_wearing_purple is saying that none of our pitchers are going to spend a day on the DL, I think he’s just saying that it’s not a “given” one of our starters misses 4 or 5 starts or more due to injury. Starting a AAA guy or a long reliever 5 or 10 games out of 162 isn’t the end of the world. So I think you too are basically agreeing, but using different definitions of “injury possibility”

          • latour23 5 years ago

            Wait wait that’s a little misleading. Chris Young was a member of the starting rotation at the beginning of the year. He made 1 start then got injured.

          • latour23 5 years ago

            Wait Wait Mike, you are being misleading about the Padres rotation not missing any starts. Chris Young was an original member of the starting rotation and made just 1 start. He has been injured all year.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            As other posters mention, no, you’re wrong. They suffered a very early significant injury, which set up the call up of Latos, which has helped define their surprising 2010 campaign.

            Another point to mention is that, you prove my point more that your closest example to a relatively fully healthy staff ends up having a surprise season. It demonstrates the rarity and flukiness of it.

        • basemonkey 5 years ago

          As with what start_wearing_purple said, IM not saying that the Mets staff has any higher chance of injury than any other team. I am just saying that every major-league pitching staff has to deal with some degree of health issues every year. It’s so much of a garuantee that if your team doesn’t suffer a pitching injury all season, than that in itself is a bigger fluke than otherwise.

          If you assume that your pitching staff’s health will get tested at some point in ’11, who will your secondary options be? Championship and playoff teams tend to have pretty solid or decent 6th and 7th options. I don’t see those kind of guys on the Mets or their farm.

      • meddler 5 years ago

        The problem with this is its very difficult to create depth beyond your Top 5 guys for any organization. You have to both find guys who can pitch effectively in the majors but you can stick in the minors. A few points:

        1. The Mets have actually done a pretty decent job of this the last few years. You had Nelson Figueroa in 2009, who since has posted a very respectable couple seasons in the majors. I was upset that he was let go despite understanding that Niese was a better pitcher, as it meant the Mets were one shorter on the depth chart in the minors. It turned out not to be a big deal though, because this year the Mets found a true gem in R.A. Dickey, who also started the year in the minors. You had to get to #7 and #8 on the depth chart before you found true “replacement level” guys like Pat Misch and Fernando Nieve in each of the last two years.

        2. The trick is really to have young guys who can fill in later in the year. Even past Mejia, Gee is a pretty good fit here as the first guy on the depth chart. His surface ERA looks poor, but a deeper look reveals its almost entirely a product of an inflated BABIP (.332) and HR/FB (12.3%). His K/BB was stellar in the minors at 4.02 and his FIP (basically expected ERA based on HRs, Ks, and BBs) very respectable at 3.75 and xFIP (same as FIP except with HR/FB rate regressed to league average to supposedly account for luck, I regressed it to slightly higher than league average for the sake of being conservative) quite good at 3.40. Its not even like he was a flyball dominant pitcher, his 43.6 GB% is a pretty neutral mark. Of course, in the majors that number will probably drop along with his strikeouts and his walks will increase. But as long as it comes with the expected correction in BABIP and HR/FB, he should be an adequate major league starter. His upside is limited, he’ll be a league-average third starter at best, but his risk is minimal, I highly doubt he’ll be any worse than a typical major league fifth starter.

        3. You’re missing the point on Pelfrey. He’s not really a “Crapshoot” at all, in fact he’s been remarkably consistent, just not especially great, and he likely won’t ever be. His FIP this year exactly matches his ERA for this year and his FIP from 2008 (3.96). The only reason his FIP and ERA were higher last year was because his HR/FB spiked to 9.5%, 2% higher than his career mark and 3% higher than his mark in 2008 or 2010. His xFIPs the last three seasons: 4.52, 4.52, 4.49. You don’t get any more consistent than that. What he has going for him is durability. He’s a big strong kid with no history of injury. He can essentially be relied upon for about 200 innings of slightly better than league average pitching (mostly because his baseline HR/FB has shown to be a bit lower than league average, everything sums up as virtually dead average, as reflected by his xFIPs). He may not be a dominant ace, but that’s still quite useful in any major league rotation. Sure, he has good stretches and bad stretches, but you can say that about virtually any middle-of-the-pack type pitcher. Guys on either extreme (good or bad) appear more consistent, but guys in the middle have some good starts and some clunkers. Look at guys like Carlos Silva and Livan Hernandez. They’ve had very similar season to Pelf, with awesome starts despite mediocre peripheral numbers, followed by massive corrections as the season wore on. They’ve still both had very useful seasons and their composite, season-long numbers are perfectly acceptable. You want a guy on a good team? How about Wade LeBlanc? Two awesome months (April, June), one mediocre one (July), and two terrible ones (May, August). How about Jason Hammel, who had an awful stretch early in the year, a dominant one in the middle, and has been mediocre the rest of the time? The thing Pelf has compared to those guys is year-to-year consistency. He’s young, strong, healthy, and durable and has done basically the same exact thing for three years running. Having a guy you can predict to give you roughly 200 slightly above average innings is very useful, even if, as with most pitchers, those innings come in bunches of good and bad. His pitch to contact style helps him go deep into games when he’s going good, but it costs him just as much when the balls in play fall in for hits in bunches, and (or perhaps really the same thing put another way) he’ll always be highly dependent on his defense (this was a big reason why his ERA was so much worse in 2009 despite all his other numbers being basically the same, because the Mets defense was abysmal in 2009, especially after Reyes and Beltran went down).

        I think Howard is dead on here that Niese has officially passed him on the depth chart. He gets the same numbers of grounders (47.1 GB% for Niese, 46.8% for Pelf), misses more bats (8.2 SwStrk% for Niese, 6.1% for Pelf) which leads to more strikeouts (7.46 K/9 for Niese, 5.03 for Pelf), and his command is slightly better (2.97 BB/9 for Niese, 3.10 for Pelf). The only thing Niese doesn’t have is Pelf’s proven durability, but in terms of baseline production level, he’s the better pitcher. Depending on where you slot Dickey, that makes Pelf either the third or fourth starter on the team. There’s nothing wrong with having a slightly above average innings eater in your SP3 or SP4 slot.

        • basemonkey 5 years ago

          Meddler, I think we primarily agree.When I say that a given team needs more than 5 pitchers on the depth chart to compete, I don’t mean 6-8 MLB pitchers. That would be a Herculean task for any team, if not immensely expensive. I dont mean those extra options should be #3 or better SPs. I mean that a team needs a 6th, 7th, and maybe 8th pitcher from their AAA insurance options, organizational guys, and prospects with upside. And, yes, like you said, much of this happens in the middle of the year. In a given competitive race, the difference between a contender winning and losing can amount to, say, 5 or so games. One medium term injury could easily equal a month of missed starts, so that team is challenged to find a replacement to fill in. That can be a difference in a tight race. I am surprised by how controversial this comment has become on this post. I would have thought Mets fans would have come out and supported this point. Having depth options should have been clearly demonstrated by their team a la Beltran this year, Reyes and EVERYONE last year, etc…a season like ’09 is beyond comprehension, but a given team shouldn’t be considered good if one pitching injury sinks them.

          To say that the Mets will have to have pitching depth to cover inevitable injuries is not calling their staff “fragile.” Every season pitching injuries are inevitable. It is just baseball reality. It’s a baseball truism as true as the adage of “never having enough pitching.” Only folks who haven’t seen much baseball may think this is up for debate. I can see how people can debate my argument about maybe their 6th or 7th options not being what you want from a contender, but no one’s been arguing that. Everyone wants to talk about the fantasy of pitching staffs going wire-to-wire with a healthy staff.

    • pal88 5 years ago

      With the exception of Santana Idon’t see the rotation as being solid…there are still too many ?????’s

      • Ricky 5 years ago

        probably – so many other holes on this team, check that organization

  2. basemonkey 5 years ago

    The more i read of the Mets current salary picture, and reflect how much they’ve traded talent away to deplete the farm the last several years, the more I think the Mets are cornered into a position where they’d like to make moves to improve, but just flat-out can’t. The last few offseasons the Mets were always in the trade talk, but couldn’t quite measure up to the offers from other systems, but every now and then found a way to trade quantity and get something done. I’m not sure if they can even pull off those kinds of deals right now.

    • amuro316 5 years ago

      I love how people think that the Mets traded away the farm system.

      Newsflash: THEY. DID. NOT.

      They have brought up Niese, Pelfrey, Davis, and Thole. They’re set to bring up Lucas Duda and possibly also Nick Evans (part 2). And they also have Reese Havens and Josh Satin at 2B, Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the OF, Wilmer Flores at SS, and a few others who’s names I can’t remember.

      Get it through your thick skulls, people. Stop reading Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman’s garbage. They just carry water for the Yankees and continually denigrate the Mets- and the rest of the media follows their lead.

      • agree completely.You think the Twins would accept that “great” package for Santana again?

        • Bernaldo 5 years ago

          Just a reminder. At the time of the trade, the Twins received the 3rd-4th-5th-6th top prospects in the Met system (in order: Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey) as ranked by Baseball America. In retrospect, they should have taken Pelfrey instead of Humber (if in fact it was true that Mets said take one or the other) and Bobby Parnell who was ranked at #18. Most of the time, one would be pleased to get the 3-6 ranked prospects from an organization. The Twins were in a terrible situation when their star pitcher limited their options and forced a trade with only three teams that he would consider.

          Every deal involving minor league talent is a gamble with big risks. Sometimes you win but more often the prospects – even Top Ten prospects – don’t pan out.

          • Yup, I believe they could have even had Fmart and some lesser pieces, but liked the Gomez (I mean the man was faster than Reyes!!!)+package more.In retrospect they should have taken the Dodgers Kemp/Kershaw offer or Lester/Crisp/Lowrie or even Hughes/Melky would have been better.

      • basemonkey 5 years ago

        I love the Mets hype behind Davis.

        Speaking as a New Yorker, nothing would make me happier to see the Mets be the top team in the NYC area. Being an objective baseball fan, the Mets hype of their prospects is ridiculous. I am not unfairly down on the mets system, because they get a lot of unfair criticism. It’s not as bad as naysayers say it is, but it’s not a good system either. Most good systems go as deep as 10-15 prospects who can realistically contribute in some degree. The Mets by contrast will have 5 or so in any given year, none of them as possible future stars. When I say that they’ve traded away talent, I mean that they’ve traded away the very high ceiling guys that most systems tend to keep.

        • amuro316 5 years ago

          17 HR in his rookie year for a crappy Mets lineup with a few weeks left for the season. How many HR does Heyward have?

          Being an objective fan? What, did you hear ANYTHING about Lucas Duda and his 24 HR this year in the minors? Did you? I didn’t. I had to look for it and follow it. The Mets, if anything, tend to hype a few guys, and then hide the rest (who they want to keep).

          And by saying “5 or so in any given year, none of them as possible future stars” not only are you NOT being objective, you’re a liar. Also, name a “hgih ceiling guy” they’ve traded away the past 5 years. They traded scrubs away for Johan.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            You can take Ike. I’ll take Heyward.

          • Ricky 5 years ago

            Both r good players – tough to compare – time will tell

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            Ike looks like a good player. I don’t think he’s star-caliber. Though I think Heyward can be. It’s not an exaggeration to say that most baseball consensus probably runs that way. Im sorry if that doesnt jive with your hopes for Ike. Its just reality. That being said, baseball is a funny sport. Who’s to say that Heyward doesn’t have an injury that prevents him from reaching his ceiling, or, shortens his career? And, who’s to say that Ike doesn’t enjoy playing on teams that maximize his talents, plays for a long career, and he becomes a very special player in Mets lore? I do believe numbers aren’t everything.

        • Just_MLB 5 years ago

          the only mets prospect to really get alot of hype was fernando martinez.
          ike struggled mightily his first year in BK…same with havens…
          they have since turned it around. Ike is due for around 22 HR in his rookie campaign..all hitting in a pitchers ballpark with a weak lineup and a crappy batting instructor. Not saying he is the 2nd coming of Pujols, but it would NOT be a stretch to expect 30-35 HR’s, a .275 average, a .350 OBP, 110 RBI’s at his peak.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            I didn’t say Davis is a bad player. I certainly don’t think that. I just think the Mets media has him primed to be a future star, when in reality, he’s probably a solid MLB regular at best. He’s still just a rookie so you never know. Baseball is littered with players who had tremendous ROY campaigns, only to follow it up with weak sophomore years after the league caught up, and they never again regain their former success (i.e. off the top of my head KC’s Angel Berroa and Toronto’s Eric Hinske come to mind).Yes, Fernando Martinez got a lot of hype. Carlos Gomez got tremendous hype before he was traded. So did Lastings Milledge. Deolis Guerra, Humber, Pelfrey, Yusmeiro Petit, Mulvey, Heilman, Mike Jacobs, Kunz. Before them it was deservedly Reyes, Wright, Kazmir.

            I hear a lot of the similar hype around Mejia, so a part of me feels like maybe it’s just hype to setup an upcoming trade in the offseason, which would be typical, but I really really hope they don’t.

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            due to past busts ( generation k being the primary ) now mets prospects dont
            get any more hype or shine than any other prospect in baseball, its just the
            NY chip on the shoulder that smaller markets have that make it seem so. Had
            Jason Heyward, Michael Taylor, Mike Stanton, Drew Storen, Dominic Brown,
            Steven Strasburg, Starlin Castro, Brett Wallace, Joba Chamberlain, Ian
            Kennedy, Jeff Karstens, and a league full of players hyped played on the
            Mets, they would already be considered a bust.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            I live in NYC and I am curious on what you mean by a small market’s NY chip on the shoulder? The logic sounds like an after-the-fact justification, but maybe i am misunderstanding. For instance, not suggesting anyone here, but it’s perhaps how arrogant people might justify themselves by accusing others as being “jealous of their confidence,” rather than considering the simplest answer that: they are arrogant.

            Anyways I only mention the Mets Hype argument because I personally think it’s a dis-service to their fans. I understand how a team might want to raise a prospect’s trade value with hype, and the Mets are not the only franchise who does that, but it can have unfortunate consequences. It can raise a lot of false hopes in fans and create unrealistic expectations, and when that prospects don’t reach this expectations, they’re inevitably doomed to be seen as a bust. I think the Mets media machine can really take this to an extreme. I dont know why it’s moreso with the Mets than the Yankees but it just seems so. How many times do we fans appreciate a player much more when we don’t expect much from them, only for them to prove how solid they are a la Xavier Nady? As opposed to, a player who comes up as a future Hall of Famer and we are disappointed if their careers start veering away from Cy Youngs or MVPs?

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            no, what i mean by the chip on the shoulder is folks who look for any supporting evidence to knock a NY team/player.

            what im interested in is what exactly is the Mets Media Machine? please explain to me what that is, and how that works?

            is that baseball america rating wilmer flores in their top 100 ?
            is that keith hernandez saying that daniel murphy’s patience reminds him of don mattingly?
            who exactly hyped up Lastings Milledge ( mr. statuatory rape case in high school )
            who was aaron heilmann compared to? aaron rodgers?

            i just dont see how met prospects are hyped any more than other prospects.

            had Justin Smoak came up with the Mets and been traded for Cliff Lee, people would be screaming high way robbery. but since its Texas, lets be patient.

            there is a chip on the shoulder of most cities outside NY that is very evident in the way they have an obscene double-standard in the way they criticize NY teams vs. other cities

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            Well NYC is just a media center. It’s a fact that we new yorkers accept, and sometimes enjoy, but sometimes endure. When I say “Mets Media Machine” I just mean there are literally proportionately more people following their team on average, and, proportionately more average media outlets/blogs/tv/sports columns talking about them at any given time. I don’t think that’s outrageous to say so. Considering their finish last year, and their disappointing season this year, you still have a lot of people on, say, espn or whatever still talking about them and their players. On any other comparably competitive team, they just aren’t talked of nearly as much. This imbalance magnifies the perception their hype. I don’t blame the Mets for the NYC factor, but I do think that its regimes of the last decade tends to think that it needs to use its NYC media market to it’s advantage by proliferating baseball opinions, if no other reason than to inflate trade values. On the otherhand, the Yankees in the same media market tends to be more even-keel about their prospects. The Red Sox of the 80s and 90s were notorious for inflating trade value hype (offhand I think of Andy Marte). The Cubs can get there today. If it gets a team good trades then i wouldnt have a problem with it. I only have a problem with it when it creates an environment where expectation levels are so unrealistically high that it sets up a perception of inevitable failure in the fans. If a given B prospect turns into a solid but average everyday player, most teams would deem that a pretty successful outcome, but in this environment they need to be a star.

            My ultimate wish here is that the Mets field a good team. I just don’t think it’s fair to the development of their young players when they get rushed, and then they may be set up to struggle.

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            “On the otherhand, the Yankees in the same media market tends to be more even-keel about their prospects. ”
            are u serious ?!?!?

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            The Yankees hype their guys up for sure. As much as any other team does. No team is innocent of that.

            The difference to me is that they don’t anoint any rookies or prospects as a “Saviour”, nor do they do so to just pump him up as trade bait. For example, the Mets lived forever with Heilman’s ups and downs by using him as a middle reliever and long man, but always pumped him up to other teams and called him a starter. If he was such a “starter”, why is it that they never really used him as a starter? He was only a “starter” in the offseason on the hot stove. With the Yankees, if a player sucks, they just say as much, eat his cost, drop him from the team, and try to find a replacement. That approach is fraught with problems too, but you can’t say they pump up players as trade bait, and keep rolling him out there, to boost his value, even if they don’t believe in him.

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            please point to comments made by Omar or anyone from the front office that
            corraborates this statement:

            “but always pumped him up to other teams and called him a starter. If he was
            such a “starter”, why is it that they never really used him as such? He was
            only a “starter” in the offseason on the hot stove. ”

            if not, then this is typical anti-met talk. nothing to see here move on

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            I’m not anti-Mets. Nothing would give me more pleasure to see them become the top team in NYC. One of my favorite nucleus cores developed ever was the ’86 Mets. The problem since then with the Mets is that they’ve developed an identity based on distinguishing themselves from the Yankees, and competing against them move for move for the sake of keeping up appearances, rather than developing and acquiring players at whatever pace it takes. When they were showing very admirable patience with Wright, I thought it was a real signal that things were changing. He went a level at a time, and showed great strikezone judgment, contact, and power at ever rung. Though since then, they’ve haven’t lacked prospects, but they’ve forced the issue on a number of them. Not saying they were stars, but they probably kept them from maximizing their talents by strange promotion schedules just to showcase and trade them.

            If you think the Mets weren’t shopping Heilman during his arb years as a starter option to other clubs, then you weren’t paying attention. We can go back and forth on this point if you want. And, I’m not going to look up a zillion articles at Winter Meetings to prove this bit, but it’s out there. Heilman himself always called himself a starter and probably set things in motion for his departure because so. That’s all I can say.

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            here is another article from the mets media machine at the end of the 08 season.

            The Mets have remained adamant that Heilman, who turned 30 last week, will not be considered for a rotation spot. A Met official Wednesday reiterated that the organization is giving no consideration to using Heilman as a starter in ’09. That’s the case even with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine the only established starters under the team’s control.

            “The last time the Mets even allowed for the possibility of Heilman moving back to the rotation came during spring training in 2006. Before that, he had spent the offseason participating in winter ball in the Dominican Republic in an attempt to regain a starting role”

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            No. You don’t understand. I am saying that the Mets would never consider using Heilman as a starter on their team, but when the offseason sprang up, they shopped him at every Winter Meetings as a starter.

          • Just_MLB 5 years ago

            I understand what you are saying. I am saying that the ONLY time they
            shopped him was in the 2008 off-season after he failed miserably as a
            reliever and demanded a trade to become a starter. I have articles with
            Aaron complaining through his agent that he is a starter. 3 months later he
            is shipped off to seattle, who then ship him off to chicago…who then ship
            him off to arizona…where he is now their part time closer….( which in
            NY, he said he would accept in lieu of being a starter )…middle
            relievers/set-up are usually under-paid and under-appreciated. Billy Wagner,
            also hyped him up and said he had untouchable stuff. that is also NOT the
            front office of the mets. thats billy wagner.

            the point is, u said the mets sold him as one thing when he was
            another…and have not provided one shred of evidence that supports that. it
            took me about 30 seconds to find these articles.

          • basemonkey 5 years ago

            It’s ok. I am pulling for the Mets. You can believe what you want to believe. Take care.

        • Ricky 5 years ago

          Interesting – they do need a star

      • Just_MLB 5 years ago

        plus they have this mejia guy people keep talking about. He hasnt won 20 games or a Cy Young yet, so he must be over-hyped ( sarcasm alert )

        • basemonkey 5 years ago

          Mejia is a good young prospect. He has great stuff, but you need great stuff just to get a shot. Every team has prospect or two like Mejia. I tend to think the Mets have madly rushed him and hope they don’t ruin him by doing so. I am not wishing anything bad on the Mets. Quite the contrary. I’ve just watched 30+ years of baseball and I’ve seen this story before.

      • Ricky 5 years ago

        They have good young players – just go get a gm and manager – and cut Perez/castillo – sometimes you just gotta let a man go

      • basemonkey 5 years ago

        For the record, when I am talking about the Mets trading and developmental philosophy, I am talking about their strategy for over the last 15 years, not just recent times. They’ve had some decent call-ups and exhibited some patience with some of their younger players today. Then again, they badly rushed Mejia. We can’t evaluate the results of those moves because oftentimes, esp. in the case of pitching prospects and raw hitters with strikezone issues, you don’t know until subsequent years. With pitchers, the risks are pretty high.

        The bottomline is that, they had a very big need when they called on Mejia, but he was called up because they didn’t have many other lower risk options, so they sold it to the public as they did. Mejia is obviously extremely talented and he’s been able to more than hold his own. In the longrun good players will find a way to be good, period. I believe that. But, sometimes with pitchers, if their arm is not caught up to where everyone (including the player) wants him to be, then the results can be the whole career gets sacrificed. I am not sure if this is the case with Mejia, but I get especially angry at baseball management, when they call up pitching prospects before their body and arm are even physically conditioned to take a MLB season, which is the epitome of irresponsibility, and usually results in an injury after which they are challeneged to reclaim their old self.

    • Ricky 5 years ago

      Acquiring players – that’s for later. Right now they need to clean teh house – Fire Minaya/Manual – spend good $$$ on a gm like Towers or Hart – give the fans Backman as a managher – people love a comeback

  3. jmits90 5 years ago

    Yu Darvish…. I know not gonna happen let me dream

  4. myname_989 5 years ago

    The Mets have a solid rotation heading into 2011, but they’re still a starter (and an offense) away from competing, in my opinion. They have their ace in Johan Santana, and a young gun in Jenrry Mejia, but they have a lot of question marks after that. Is RA Dickey having a fluke season, or can he sustain these numbers? (Before this year, the guy’s lowest FIP was in 2003 with the Rangers at 4.31) Can Mike Pelfrey be consistent? Has Jon Niese figured things out in the big leagues? Too many question marks for me, considering you don’t even know what you’re going to get out of Jenrry Mejia as a starter over a full season. It seems like the only constant is Santana.

    I just can’t see the Mets contending next year. Even if they add a solid number 2 type guy like Ted Lilly to that rotation, it’s hard to imagine them competing with the Braves and Phillies. They just need too many pieces that they can’t afford to add.

    • amuro316 5 years ago

      I generally agree with you here in the first paragraph. There ARE question marks to the Mets. Johan is indeed an ace, although Meija is I think more in line for 2012 than 2011. But that’s a quibble. I think MLB Rumors is right that Dickey is NOT a fluke, but I agree about the worries. Just a reminder: his numbers before recent memory is with him w/o a knuckelball. And I agreea bout Pelfrey and Niese. They need more seasoning and a better defense.

      With your second paragraph though, I don’t know about the Phillies and Braves. They also have alot of question marks. For the Phils, Rollins isn’t getting younger, Werth is probably gone, Ibanez flopped, and the bottom of their rotation sucks ass (Moyer and Blanton). Everything for them will hinge on Hamels and Oswalt being consistent. And their bullpen’s an on and off mess. Braves need more power, period. They’ve got a great rotation…..but a flash in the pan bullpen. Saito and Wagner are gone, soon. Venters isn’t going to be able to hold the fort on his own. Glaus is always an injury risk, and so is Chipper (even if he stays). Rebuilding the team around Prado, McCann, Heyward, and maybe also Alex Gonzalez (if they can keep him) is the way to go, offensively. Still, it’s not enough power. And Heyward isn’t yet where they need him to be.

  5. any love for john maine?

  6. O971 5 years ago

    The primary problem the Mets have is that while they have a good rotation they play in a division that has 3 teams in their division with a better rotation. Their 2 best starters (this year at least) are over 30 and are going to be past their prime by (barring a miracle) the time they get their offense back. And the only one of their starters who looks like they have a shot at being anything more than a “#3 starter” is Mejia.

    • amuro316 5 years ago

      I can’t believe you’re basing this off of “two best starters are over 30″ when it’s Johan and RA Dickey (a knucleballer). Talk to me again when the Phillies and Braves no longer have Oswalt/Moyer and Lowe/Hudson.

      And what, no love for Jon Niese? His numbers, overall, show really good potential.

      • myname_989 5 years ago

        I won’t say that it’s because they’re “above 30,” but Johan Santana, at least, has declined. He’s lost a lot of velocity on his fastball, and his change-up isn’t moving as much, with a speed too close to that of the fastball to be as effective as it used to be. He’s one of those guys that will still be good if he “learns to pitch” instead of “just throwing.” Maybe RA Dickey can reinvent himself. Who knows. I agree with O971 though, by the time the Mets put an offense together than can contend, Johan Santana and RA Dickey might be retired.

        • cweradio 5 years ago

          He’s come off off-season surgery .. I typically believe that the year after is almost a wash … Let’s see how he does next year .. if he still has that loss of velocity and movement, then I’ll agree with that

          • myname_989 5 years ago

            That’s understandable, and if that were the case, I wouldn’t have even mentioned it. The loss in velocity has been a trend over the past few years for Santana, and the wear on his shoulder only makes it worse. Around when the Mets acquired Johan, the average velocity of his fastball was around 93mph, while he showed that he could rev that up to 95mph. In ’08, his velocity began to fall off some, with his average fastball velocity around 91mph. He didn’t pitch a full season in 2009, and as you said, he had shoulder troubles, but before he went down for the season, his average fastball velocity was around 87 – 90mph. Coming back from the injury in 2010, he’s barely managed 90, and his fastball averages out around 87mph.

            You might not think that a few mph is a notable difference, but it is. Johan Santana is at his best when he’s able to offset his fastball with that devastating change-up. However, when he’s throwing his fastball at 87mph and his change-up at 82mph, it’s not as effective. It’s hasn’t been a decline in velocity from ’09 – ’10, but a trending decline in velocity from ’07 onward.

          • adropofvenom 5 years ago

            I get the warning signs, but with all due respect, since coming to the Mets he’s put up 600 innings of Sub 3 ERA baseball and over the course of his career he’s consistently outperformed his FIP/xFIP/ect. I think he’ll be fine.

            And for the record, his FB has dropped from 91.8 to 89.6 since 2007. You’re exaggerating quite a bit. Averaging 87? Not yet buddy.

      • LioneeR 5 years ago

        He didn’t say 2 of their starters, he said their 2 best starters. It is just a fact, currently the mets 2 best starters are over 30. It really isn’t that big of a deal except long term. Which is iffy for the mets.

        Also the Braves 2 best starters aren’t Lowe/Hudson. lol

      • O971 5 years ago

        My post wasn’t really meant to be taken as a snipe at the Mets. I was merely saying that at the moment I think they have the 3rd or 4th best rotation in the Division, and that the improvement of some pitchers will coincide with the decline of their best and the rotation will probably be treading water over the next couple seasons. I like Niese but he doesn’t have dominating stuff and his peripherals are about the same as his minor league peripherals, so I think he’ll be more less be what he is now, which is a really solid above average starter (See #3 starter). I just think the future of the rotation hinges more on Mejia than anyone else.
        As you can tell this post is based more in speculation than my other one. Johan Santana could be an effective #1-2 starter for the next 10 years, RA Dickey could turn into Phil Niekro, and Pelfrey and Niese could still develop into effective top of the rotation pitchers. I just think it’s a much more likely scenario that the rotation stays about the same.

      • basemonkey 5 years ago

        He’s just saying that once the Mets build a strong young lineup peaking at the same time, these 30+ yr old pitchers will be tailing off in their careers.

  7. cweradio 5 years ago

    The Mets NEED a REAL # 2 to set the table .. Niese has potential and Mejia/Gee as well .. it’s Pelfry we, as fans, need to worry about. He needs to step up on the consistent side of pitching .. be decent in the 1st half, blow people away 2nd half .. maybe that’s a new pitching coach, I don’t know .. The Mets also need a manager who can light a fire under his players @$$ when there’s sign of a slump coming on, and keep their foot to the throat until it’s over …. the team needs passion .. maybe the pitching staff can resurrect themselves with more consistent TEAM play

  8. shmoopy38 5 years ago

    R.A. Dickey Appreciation Video – There should be an R.A. Dickey Appreciation Day at Citi Field: link to

  9. Sampsonite168 5 years ago

    I really hope they don’t just hand Mejia a spot next year. The Mets need to go out and sign a guy like Kuroda or Webb (of course I’d love Lee but I’m trying to be realistic here), start Mejia in AAA and only call him up when someone from the rotation falters. But with the rotation being as good as it’s been this year, it wouldn’t surprise at all if they took the cheap way out and just signed an innings eater to fill the last spot until Mejia is ready, or be even dumber and just hand Mejia the spot.

    • Just_MLB 5 years ago

      to the contrary, i would rather the mets TAKE THEIR TIME and let Mejia ( 20 yrs old ) develop at his own pace, rather than bring him up if someone gets hurt ( reactionary knee jerk move )

      realistically, mejia shouldnt be even remotely considered for the rotation until 2012
      (age 22).

      let him dominate and MASTER his off-speed stuff in 2011 in AAA.

      • basemonkey 5 years ago

        The problem with promoting him this past year is that by doing so, his service clock has started. Not that his price tag would be a problem for the mets if he turns out to be good, but it still quickens his development time now. The mets will have to start making tougher and tougher decisions on him in 3 yrs whether he’s ready or not. If he needs, say, a typical track for an above-average MLB pitcher who doesn’t start to click until, say, age 25ish, the mets will be hard-pressed to keep him in the rotation while he has growing pains.

  10. GOLSF 5 years ago

    The Mets needs to dismantle and rebuild.

    Johan Santana is wasted as the team will not compete during his prime. Moving him for prospects should be a key offseason priority.

    Moving Beltran’s salary will be harder, but would help this club as well.

    They need to identify tradeable assets and seek to move them to clubs closer to contention. Funds should be used to overslot in the draft and to pick up lesser priced talent to held tide over the club.

    This club is starting to look a bit like the Knicks did two years ago…

    • moonraker45 5 years ago


    • Just_MLB 5 years ago

      simply over-slotting doesnt make a prospect better.
      i’d rather they pay slot and spend more on the international free-agent market, where 1 million dollars will get u 100 players who in 5 years will be 21 years and further experienced in the minors than many of their American counterparts coming out of college.

    • Ricky 5 years ago

      u r 100 pct correct – FIRE MINAYA/MANUAL – WE WANT BLOOD

  11. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    The mets have a solid rotation set up for next year? Really? You’re kidding right? I mean, RA “friggin” Dickie is their #2 starter. Followed up by Niese and Pelfry (yawn). They seriously need to add a high quality starter before they can even dream of a .500 team.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      I believe the Mets are tops of ERA this season for starting pitching? Niese is a rookie, who is getting better. Derp.

      • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

        Overall pitching staff is 5th in ERA (rotation only stats not available to me at this time). But they are 12th in walks, 12th in batting average against, 11th in strike outs, 12th in on base plus slugging, and 11th in WHIP. Their ERA may look good, but this is definitely not a dominant group of pitchers. I don’t have the stats to back it up, but my guess is that their ERA is partially reflected by their ballpark and infield defense.

        • and who cares if the ERA is relfected by the ballpark and infield defense? they’re still going to be playing in the same ballpark, and they’re still going to have the same infield defense. in fact in will probably be better because tejada will likely see more time at second base and castillo will hopefully see even less than he has this year.

    • pretty sure they’re dreaming of a .500 team right now…..

  12. Tko11 5 years ago

    I think they should replace the Mets with the Long Island Ducks. They have Joey Gathright, Kip Wells AND the great Sidney Ponson!

  13. escapingNihilism 5 years ago

    this analysis declines to mention Hisanori Takahashi

    • takahashi won’t be competing for a spot in the rotation next year, he’ll be in the pen. if they bring im back, that is. i like him as a long reliever

  14. dirtydez 5 years ago

    The Mets seem likely to land Cliff Lee. Their 2011 payrolll would be massive until Beltran and co. come off the books after next season. Lee would prefer Citi Field over Yankee Stadium. All they need to do is limp into the playoffs and they’d be set > Johan/Lee boom crown their asses.

  15. Ricky 5 years ago

    GO BIG on a GM – fire Minaya – hire Hart or Towers
    Go cheap on a manager – hire backman
    Start rebuilding by cutting the dead weight ties – Perez/Castillo – reconnect with your fan base

    • Just_MLB 5 years ago

      it doesnt matter who u get as GM if u basically castrate the position and micro-manage ( ala jeff wilpon )

      • Ricky 5 years ago

        Yep new gm has to ask the frank cashen question 2 wilpon of “will u leave me alone”…if not the job is worthless

  16. A rotation of Santana,Dickey,Niese,Pelfrey, and a cheap fifth starter should do it with minor leaguers in AAA like Mejiia and Gee. Its not the rotation that hurt the Mets its the offense. Upgrades at 2nd base and real bench need to be addressed.

  17. but it would be nice to add a starter, cause they’re not making any moves for starting position players this offseason. except for a real second baseman, maybe

  18. Guest 5 years ago


  19. MetsEventually 5 years ago

    Mejia isn’t ready, or Dillion Gee. Signing Ted Lilly or Chris Young should be ok for them.

  20. nymets4581 5 years ago

    This article has one major flaw. It states that Oliver Perez will try to “find his fastball.” The problem is that I’m fairly certain he doesn’t have a fastball. He just has a meatball.

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