There are many reasons for a major league team to consider making a trade.  The most obvious is if that team is lacking in some particular area, whether it be starting pitching, relief pitching or hitting.  Another reason is to keep up with the competition, whereby that team needs to make a move simply because their closest competitor has recently done the same.  Yet another reason is because sometimes a team just needs to shake up the roster in order to catch some kind of proverbial spark.  Some reasons are more important than others for each particular team.

Every team also needs to ask themselves some very important questions as well.  “Is it worth it to mortgage possible future talent at this stage?”  In other words, is the team actually in contention at the time when a trade is being considered?  Does that team have the assets to bring in the player that they covet?  Is that team willing to add the payroll that the new player is due?

There are so many factors for a general manger to consider when surveying available talent and communicating with other general managers of potential trade partners.

That brings us to our beloved Mets.  The first and most obvious factor is that the Mets share a division with a team that always seems to pull off significant moves, at least over the past three years.  That team is of course the Phillies, which makes our stomachs turn.  From Cliff Lee, to Roy Halladay, to the recent acquisition of Roy Oswalt, the Phils always seem to have what it takes to bring in highly regarded talent at the trade deadline.  The Mets, on the other hand, rarely follow suit, with the obvious exception of Johan Santana in recent years.  As of this posting, the Mets have done absolutely nothing to substantiate their roster.  It could be that they have no interest in adding payroll due to financial constraint, which has been rumored for just over a year now.

Regardless of why the Mets are reluctant to make a move (or why they do not have the “perceived” minor league talent that other teams desire) is irrelevant.  What is relevant is this.  Are the Mets really a contender at this stage?  Do they perceive themselves as one?  If the answer is truly no, then why bother making a trade in the first place?

I often do not give the Mets any credit for good decision making.  Certainly spending as much as they do and annually having a non-competitive team should give my actions credence.  That is another story that I have written about many, many times and does not need to be mentioned for the purposes of this post.

However, if the Mets indeed stand pat after today’s deadline, perhaps they are making the proper move.  Would Brett Myers or Ted Lilly actually improve them enough to beat out the five other teams that are ahead or tied with them for a playoff spot?  This is certainly a valid question that needs to be answered.

The point is this.  If the Mets truly wanted to be competitive in 2010, they wouldn’t have waited for the trade deadline to make it happen.

I think that all of you are aware of how I feel about the Mets starting rotation.  I have said on numerous occasions that an upgrade here was essential to the Mets being a competitive team in 2010.  Granted, there were not a lot of impact pitchers available this off-season to be had outside of John Lackey and Roy Halladay.  For a myriad of reasons, the Mets chose to stay pat with what they have had for years now.

I will now review the Met Starting Pitcher Depth Chart as I see it right now, and follow each player with some analysis and opinion.

  1. Johan Santana – Not much to break down here, as he is the only real credible guy in the rotation.  We all know what the man is capable of.  The only negative here is off-season left elbow surgery on 9/1/09, in which he had multiple bone fragments removed.  A report on the success of his first workout can be seen here posted by Joe D.
  2. Mike Pelfrey – “Big Pelf” pitched nothing like his nickname implies last season.  Last year was such a major step back for him after such a promising rookie debut.  His ERA jumped over a point and a quarter, and often times looked like he was a batting tee for the opposition.  For a player considered to be one of our finest home-grown talents, there is a lot we do not know about him at this stage in his development.  What we do know is that he was never a strikeout pitcher going back to his time in the minor leagues (at least above A-Ball).  It is noticeable when he gets to 2 strikes and has no “put-away” pitch to fool the batter.  There are many ten-pitch AB’s against him as a result.  107 strikeouts in 184 innings is as much evidence as you need to gauge this.  In essence, he is a ground-ball pitcher who lets up many base runners while lulling his defense to sleep during long innings of work.  Let’s face it, a plus 5 ERA and plus 1.50 WHIP is not deserving of #2  starter status.  However, as you will see once you continue down this list, he must be placed here for now.  This is awfully disturbing.
  3. Oliver Perez – Who doesn’t cringe every time we see Oliver Perez take the mound, let alone after the sheer mention of his name?  This is a guy that came on like a whirlwind during the 2006 playoffs, and has looked anything but that ever since.  It has been a slow regression of productivity for him since that season.  That 2004 all-star season on the Pittsburgh Pirates seems like a distant memory.  In many ways, it is.  The Pirates lost patience with his lack of command and faulty mechanics that they gave him away f or a song and dance.  The Mets appeared to pull off a steal when they made the move to acquire him in 2006.  What did they actually come away with?  Let’s put it this way.  It’s almost like the Mets held up a bank and asked the teller to fill their bag with all the money in the vault, only to come away with monopoly money instead.  What is evident is that Ollie has reigned back his mechanics to the point where his velocity, which once neared 98-100 mph in 2004, rarely reaches 94 and often hovers around 91 mph.  Combine that with his infamous lack of control, and you have a time bomb on the mound as your number three pitcher coming off of knee surgery.  Ouch!
  4. John Maine – Now here is a man with a little upside…I hope.  John Maine has proven, while healthy, to be a productive pitcher.  Unlike Pelfrey and Perez, his strikeout to walk ratio is minimally 2:1 throughout his major league career.  He is a guy who lets up home runs as a fly ball pitcher, but makes up for it with the ability to strike someone out as he usually possesses fair control.  Unfortunately, he has been completely unable to stay healthy over the last year and a half, and whether his stuff will be what it once was this year is anybody’s guess.
  5. Fernando Nieve – We now reach the level of the completely unknown.  Nieve had a small run of success last season before suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury on July 19th.  He possessed a fastball that occasionally was clocked at 98 mph that had some late movement.  This enabled him to overpower some major league hitters during his short stint with the club last year.  Other than this cup of coffee, he toiled in the minor leagues for parts of 9 years, illuminating the fact that he has not been highly regarded for quite some time by big league scouts.  Your guess is as good as mine here.
  6. Jonathon Niese – Projected as a major league 4th starter by most experts, Mr. Niese seemed to be rounding into form last season before he spun the roulette wheel of season ending Met injuries on August 5th.  He ultimately succumbed to a complete tear of the right upper hamstring tendon that required surgery to repair.  His statistics are encouraging.  He possesses a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio in limited major league innings.  However, this is backed up by a better ratio than that throughout his minor league career.  He also has the ability to produce a lot of ground ball outs as his best pitch is a huge breaking curve ball.  He began to spot his low 90’s fastball with better accuracy prior to the injury.  He seems to  have a bit of promise, however like so many Met pitchers, he is a huge gamble to produce this season coming off his major injury.
  7. Josh Fogg – Please.
  8. Nelson Figueroa – Why bother?

As clearly illustrated, the Mets have very little to trust going into this 2010 season from a starting pitching standpoint.  As much as I can measure, it is pitching that wins.  Why gamble on such an important aspect to your success? There was John Lackey to be had.  It seems to me that we could have at least made him an offer.

Why take such a gamble, Jeff? You seem confused.

Ask Jeff Wilpon that question, not me.