Speaking with a co-worker yesterday, we both agree that the Mets lineup is deep and that they will be one of the better hitting teams this year.
We also agree that the difference between winning 83 or 90 games will be determined by who steps up to take the second spot in the rotation.
Getting that second pitcher would make Mike Pelfrey and John Maine a solid three and four, respectively. It would also move Oliver Perez to the fifth spot and easier to replace, if his bad habits appear.
A few names were thrown around, but listed below are five pitchers who would fill the spot.
1. Gil Meche (Kansas City Royals)
The Royals owe over $20 million to Meche for the next two years, completing the five-year, $50 million contract signed in 2006, and will look to move him by June.
Royals surprisingly gave this deal to Meche, expecting to pair him up with Zach Greinke and Luke Hochevar. Unfortunately, Hochevar has been a major disappointment, along with third baseman Alex Gordon.
So, things are the same for the Royals and trimming salary will be required by management.
Back and shoulder issues can be to blame for Meche's off year (6-10, 5.09). He was solid the previous two seasons, winning a combined 23 games with an ERA that was less than four.
There's a lot to like with Meche and probably would only take a package of catcher Josh Thole and/or pitcher Bobby Parnell to get it done.
2. Chris Young (San Diego Padres)
The Padres are marked to finish last this year and will be looking to cut salary. Since they really don't want to move the inexpensive Adrian Gonzalez, pitchers Heath Bell and Young may be the logical choices.
Out of the two pitchers, Young would be more logical because the Padres need to make room for some of the young pitchers (Sean Gallagher, Wade LeBlanc, and Tim Stauffer) competing this spring. Plus, Young doesn't seem to stay healthy the whole season (high of 179 IP in 2006).
The injuries are not the only reason why Young reminds people of Rich Harden, Young is very productive when healthy. The 30-year-old's career stats are 46-34 with a 3.87 ERA.
This would be a gamble worth taking, especially since Young has the ability to provide ace-like numbers.
3. Brandon Webb (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Webb may become trade-bait because he's a free agent after this year and already stated that he wants to keep his options open. That usually means: "I'm available for the highest price."
His trade value will be based on his early start, especially coming back from a shoulder injury.
It would be nice to have this former Cy Young winner (22-7, 3.30 ERA) join Johan Santana to form one of the better one-two punches in the game.
My prediction is that Webb will bounce back and use his sinker ball to make the All-Star team.
Would the Mets package left fielder Fernando Martinez to get Webb and hope to sign him to a long contract?
4. Roy Oswalt (Houston Astros)
Oswalt is battling a bulging disk in his back and has many innings on that small frame, but I still would like to get this former All-Star.
All signs point to Oswalt breaking down any year now. The Astros would be smart to trade Oswalt a year too early than a year too late, even though he's their current ace.
The Mets would have to treat Oswalt as a rental player and not give up any of the top prospects.
If the price is right, I would take a chance on this 32-year-old vet, who has postseason success (4-0, 3.66 ERA) and is a "gamer" with grit.
5. Bronson Arroyo (Cincinnati Reds)
Arroyo would not be the ideal No. 2, but he would be a nice acquisition who would still move the other pitchers down a spot.
The Reds may look to move Arroyo to make room for Micah Owings and Edinson Volquez, when the latter returns from injury around the trade deadline.
Acquiring one of these five pitchers would have multiple impacts. The Mets would be able to start Jonathon Niese in the minors and wouldn't be reluctant to sit Oliver Perez.
Aside from Webb, the Mets wouldn't have to trade any of their top prospects like Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Martinez, or Jenrry Mejia.
As discussed in the office, acquiring another top-of-the-rotation pitcher may be the difference between finishing a couple of games over .500 this season, or the playoffs.
Do the right thing, Mets management, and don't wait too long.