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.