John Smoltz: 3rd Brave is a Charm?

Mets ParadiseCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2010

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 10:   Pitcher John Smoltz #30 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning of Game Three of the NLDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Busch Stadium on October 10, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Over the last week or so I have constantly seen the name John Smoltz pop up when reading stories related to the Mets and their pursuit of free agent SPs. While Ben Sheets would have been a major risk this season, I feel like the Mets just cannot make up their mind on what direction they want to go in; which is why I still have failed to understand the upside of pursuing John Smoltz. I thought we learned from Julio Franco and Tom Glavine.

Granted, Julio Franco was an excellent player throughout his career; a career which began in 1982. Julio had a lifetime .298 AVG and 173 career HRs, and most of his career was spent traveling from team to team. He was never a star, but he was always a quality starter until he joined the Mets in 2006. During 2006 and 2007 Franco’s numbers as a Met were awful, and I assumed all along his presence was mainly for leadership and wisdom.  He hit just .254 with 3 homers and 34 RBIs in 2 seasons with the Mets, numbers expected from a player in his mid 40s.

Glavine was a similar issue for the Mets. Although he had a few good years with the Mets, all of those seasons were mediocre and he had 2 seasons under .500. In 5 seasons his ERA was just under 4.00; typically I would view his tenure with the Mets are “ok”, however during his run with the Mets Glavine was one of our premier starters. I still view Glavine negatively for his disgraceful performance on the last game of the 2007 season, where the vet came up terribly following a god-like performance by John Maine.

So what is the upside of bringing in John Smoltz? I personally can’t understand it unless it is to mentor young pitchers in the rotation — players like John Maine and Oliver Perez who just can’t seem to make that final leap. Smoltz is in no way a decent fall-back plan for the Mets’ inability to sign Lackey, Sheets, Garland, Pineiro, Washburn and Marquis. Marquis isn’t a great player by any means but he sure is a better sign than Smoltz — and let’s be honest, Marquis publicly stated he wanted to play for the Mets.

For Smoltz, he had just a 1-3 record in 7 starts with the Cardinals this season after an abysmal run with the Red Sox where he went 2-5 with a +8 ERA. Clearly he’s more suited for the NL, and I can’t imagine Smoltz throwing out of the bullpen since he hasn’t been a relief pitcher since 2004 (not counting 1 relief appearance in 2008).

My only assumption to this point is Smoltz will be more of a mentor for Pelfrey, Maine and Perez while also allowing rehabilitation time for Jon Niese; or Omar Minaya is just hoping this will turn out to be a 3rd old Brave is a charm scenario.