New York Mets Starting Pitching: What Next?

Nick Carlo@@carlo2612Analyst IIFebruary 4, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 20:  Pitcher John Smoltz #29 of the Boston Red Sox on July 20, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

One of the New York Mets' biggest needs this offseason was another starting pitcher.  The Mets lacked a strong pitcher after Johan Santana.  If they were able to acquire a strong No. 2 pitcher, it would've totally changed people's views of the team.

A strong one-two punch is very valuable in the MLB.  The pitching market this offseason was thin to begin with.  Not many people really stood out.

The biggest name was probably John Lackey.  Lackey has been a very good pitcher for most of his career.  It looked like a match made in heaven for the Mets.

If the Mets had Lackey right behind Santana, that would be a pretty solid pitching rotation.  That would give the Mets one of the strongest one-two punches in the bigs.  

Mets fans were urging the Mets to sign Lackey and finally fix the pitching problem.  Some even wanted two pitchers—Lackey and a nice No. 5 pitcher.  It seems that we fans fell victim to wishful thinking. 

The Red Sox went on to acquire Lackey.  It was a lost opportunity for the Mets, and if they made the move it could've made the team competitive this season.

The Mets turned to their attention to the other solid free agent pitchers.  One guy that they really liked was Joel Piniero.  Piniero has showed in the past couple of years that he has some decent talent.  He might've been a very nice fit in the Mets' rotation. 

It seemed like the Mets were going to end up with Piniero.  They just really liked him.  So much for that; talks between the two died because of contract concerns, and Piniero worked out a deal to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pitchers were flying off the market and it started to look weaker and weaker.  The Mets lost out on Ben Sheets, Jon Garland, and a couple more decent pitchers in a matter of weeks. 

Now, here we are.  The Mets aren't left with a whole bunch of options to fill their rotation.  As of now, the cream of the crop are Jarrod Washburn, John Smoltz, Chien-Ming Wang, Braden Looper, Mike Hampton, Noah Lowry, and Pedro Martinez.

None of those players seem like they can fix the Mets' starting pitching problem.  They are either too old, have injury concerns, or just don't want to come to New York. 

Omar Minaya will probably be forced to sign one of those pitchers to no more than a two-year deal.  If that's the case, I believe that the Mets should sign Noah Lowry and Chien-Ming Wang.

John Smoltz also looks like he might make sense, but there are problems.  He's not getting any younger, and injuries will mess with him in 2010.

Wang and Lowry aren't necessarily All-Star talents, but they both have a lot of upside.  Wang was one of the better pitchers in the league before 2009, but 2009 was a complete disaster for him.  Injuries and bad pitching sidelined him for most of the season. 

The good thing about Wang is that he can be signed as a low risk, high reward guy.  I'm sure that he is not looking for a big contract.  I'm thinking either a one or two-year deal filled with incentives.  Signing Wang should be on the top of the Mets' to do list. 

As for Noah Lowry, he just seems to not have as many problems as some of those other guys.  He had some injury problems last year, but if he can put those past him then he should be a perfect fit for the Mets.  He won't be too expensive, isn't too old, and has some talent. 

These players are definitely not the answers to the Mets' pitching problems.  They will act like a bridge to the 2010 offseason.  They can also turn into valuable parts in the lower parts of the rotation. 

The top free agent pitcher next offseason will be Brandon Webb.  When Webb is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  He has great stuff and would be a fantastic No. 2 pitcher behind Johan Santana. That would definitely be one of the strongest one-two punches in the MLB.

That may also be wishful thinking for next offseason, but the Mets definitely can pull it off.  They have the money to sign Webb and I'm sure he wouldn't mind playing in New York. 

If the Mets can give the rotation a little fix up this year, and then go big next year, I think they should be fine.  Wang and Lowry won't hurt the team that much.  They are both, pretty much low risk, high reward guys. 

Pitching is going to be a vital part for the Mets this offseason.  The rotation can't be horrible like last year's, but an average rotation might actually be enough for the Mets this season. 

They have one of the most talented lineups in the league, and that is always enough to make up for a few mistakes.  There are not a whole lot of options for Omar and the Mets, so that means that they must settle for low risk, high reward guys...for now.