We'll do the pitchers just like we did the position players, going through the Mets' current roster and top minor leagues, breaking the players into groups by contract status. First, the pitchers who are signed through 2008, with their 2008 money in parentheses:
Pedro Martinez: through 2008 ($11M)
Billy Wagner: through 2009, with $8M club option in 2010 ($10.5M)
Orlando Hernandez: through 2008 ($6.5M)
Scott Schoeneweis: through 2009 ($3.6M)
Guillermo Mota: through 2008 ($3.2M)
Pedro and El Duque constitute the shaky veteran core of the Mets starting pitching staff. Together they'll make $17.5M in 2008, which is a total bargain, providing they each throw at least 150 innings. Among the relievers, Wagner has been outstanding, despite shaky outings against the Phillies. He led the team's relievers in VORP with 22.2. Schoeneweis and Mota barely registered, however, at 2.1 and -0.8, respectively. I don't know what the Mets expected to get with Schoenewis; his 5.03 ERA was not that far off his career numbers. Did the Mets expect to improve him some how, a 33 year old pitcher? And if they really meant to give $10.8 million for three years of a LOOGY, why didn't they use him that way? Instead, Randolph used Felicano that way; he was less dependable, of course, being a youngster. Feliciano was far, far more valuable, however.
What do we do with Guillermo Mota? Unlike Schoeneweis, he actually has some serious upside. His problem is that he throws his fastball when he should throw his change-up, throws his change-up when he should throw his fastball, and gets flustered and flies open for two pitches before throwing a meatball down the middle. But releasing him would be stupid, as he could serve as a quality innings-eater (if Randolph would use him that way). Trading him would not bring back much value. The Mets' best hope is to get a string of five or ten great innings from Guillermo and then trade him away.
Tom Glavine: $13M player option w/ $3M buyout
Glavine earned 4 million extra in "performance incentives" by throwing 200 innings this year; the 1/3 extra was a waste of time for everyone involved. It seems he'll throw it away anyway, and we couldn't be happier. Glavine is better than most guys who will be available, but at least his absence leaves a spot open for Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey, both of whom should be in the Mets' rotation next year.
I'm tired of Glavine's mediocre K/9 and BB/9 rates, his reliance on Atlanta Brave-favoring strike zones, and his calm, professional demeanor. 300 wins be damned, Don Sutton-- we don't think he's a Hall of Famer. Career K/9 of 5.0; BB/9 of 2.7? Here is a pitcher with grit and guts, sure, but also one who was extremely lucky to have pitched his best years with the Atlanta Braves. Go back there, Tom Tolerable.
Free Agents: At least six years of ML service time; no current contract. Last contract in parentheses.
Aaron Sele (1 year/$1M)
Brian Lawrence (minor league contract)
The Mets are not likely to offer major league contracts to either of these players.
Arbitration-Eligible: Rules. Last contract in parentheses.
Oliver Perez (avoided arbitration: 1 year/$2.325M, plus bonuses)
Jorge Sosa (non-tendered by St. Louis, free agent: 1 year/$1.25M)
Dave Williams (avoided arbitration: 1 year/$1.25M, plus bonuses)
Duaner Sanchez (avoided arbitration: 1 year/$0.85M)
Pedro Feliciano (1 year/$0.602M)
Aaron Heilman (1 year/$0.453M)
Oliver Perez made $100K out of a possible $150K in performance bonuses. He should re-signed without arbitration. We think he will become the ace of this staff, because Maine isn't as talented, El Duque isn't as durable, and Pedro's days are numbered. Oliver will have an even better season next year than this.
Dave Williams had a possible $1.125 million in bonus money (although he would have had to start 30 games and relieve in 60), but made none of it, with just one start and one relief appearance for the Mets. Looking back, we don't know why they gave him such a ridiculous contract; they surely would have won in arbitration. This year they should offer him $450K and go to arbitration, if they want to keep him at all.
Jorge Sosa isn't really that good, but that's honestly good enough for a spot in the bullpen. He's sure to make over $2 million if he goes to arbitration. If the Mets bring him back that will be fine, but we won't shed any tears if they let him go.
Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano are quality major league relief pitchers and should of course be retained (and NOT traded!). Duaner Sanchez will finally be coming back and hopefully will be just as good.
Not Arbitration Eligible:
John Maine (1 year/$0.391M)
Philip Humber (5 years/$4.2M, 2005-09)
Mike Pelfrey (4 years/$6.6M, 2006-09)
Ambiorix Burgos (1 year/$0.415M)
Juan Padilla (1 year/$0.384M)
Jason Vargas, Willie Collazo, Adam Bostick, Carlos Muniz, Jon Adkins, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, Lino Urdaneta, Steve Schmoll, Eric Niesen, Jon Niese, Clint Nageotte
This list could include 3/5ths of the Mets' 2008 starting rotation, and that would be a good thing. Maine led Mets' pitchers in VORP this year with 33.3; Pelfrey and Humber were both negative. Humber hasn't really been given a changc, while Pelfrey was mediocre, but showed signs of quality. I doubt it will happen, but both should be given a serious chance in 2008.
Rounding out the bullpen possibles, we have Ambiorix Burgos, who wasn't half bad in 2007 but will miss all or most of 2008 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Taking his place might just be Juan Padilla, whom I barely remember from way back in 2005 when he pitched very well (but was lucky, too). Joe Smith is still a Met, despite the team completely giving up on him after a rough patch, before which he had thrown about 20 straight scoreless innings.
Among the others, we could see Willie Collazo and possibly Carlos Muniz next year, if the Mets oust such star-studded talent as Aaron Sele and Dave Williams. Jon Adkins' presence on the roster just makes me sad; so do Clint Nageotte, Lino Urdaneta, Adam Bostick and Steve Schmoll.
As it stands, the Mets' 2008 rotation and bullpen:
Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez
Philip Humber/Mike Pelfrey
Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith, Jorge Sosa
If the Mets want to spring for Francisco Cordero, they should do it. Otherwise, it's just a waste. The Mets are good enough to win the division next year with these pitchers.