The Mets, John Lackey, and the Johan Santana Treatment

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Starting pitcher John Lackey #41 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

The Mets need a top flight starting pitcher.

John Lackey is the only TRUE top flight starting pitcher on the free agent market.

Match made in heaven?

"People around the Angels believe Lackey is likely to go elsewhere, mainly because the Angels won't be willing to pay his asking price. In fact, some are convinced their deal for lefthander Scott Kazmir in August made Lackey's return all the more unlikely, with Kazmir due some $20 million over the next two years.

It's fair to ask how much is too much for Lackey. On the disabled list with a forearm strain, he didn't make his first start until May 16. He wound up 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA, and he'll be 31 later this month.

But as one AL scout said of Lackey yesterday, "He's good and he's tough. From what I know about the Mets, Lackey's a guy who could make a difference there."

Lackey would be an interesting fit in New York. He tends to speak his mind, even if it means taking swipes at teammates. It hasn't been much of an issue in laid-back Southern California, but one local reporter said, 'It would be in New York.'"

As a Met fan myself, I would love to have Lackey aboard. He would be a fantastic compliment to Johan Santana and significantly upgrade the Mets rotation. With all the questions about the Mets' 2010 payroll, it remains to be seen what kind of payroll they can afford to take on. No matter how much money the Mets have at their disposal, signing John Lackey would command a significant portion of that money.

At the same time, I hope the Mets proceed this offseason with a touch of cautiousness and a whole lot of sensibility. The reality of the Mets right now is that they need much more than just one player if they are going to be a contender in 2010. Even if the Mets sign John Lackey, that will not be enough. They need more pieces.

Hopefully, the Mets have learned from the 2007 offseason. Sure the Mets hit the homerun by picking up Johan Santana, but many other areas that needed upgrading were simply not dealt with. It was as if the Johan Santana deal was supposed to cover up the various deficiencies that eventually plagued the 2008 Mets. If the 2010 Mets are going to make noise, then Omar Minaya needs to build the best 25 man roster possible, not just have six all world players surrounded by a mediocre supporting cast.

So if the Mets have enough money to make a strong play at John Lackey, then I'm all for long as they have enough resources left to adequately fill the team's other needs. But if the Mets only have $15-$20 million to work with, then it makes sense to pass on Lackey and upgrade elsewhere.


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