New York Mets Offseason Outlook: Starting Pitchers

Nick Carlo@@carlo2612Analyst IINovember 22, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JULY 24:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets warms up before a throwing session in the pullpen before the start of a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on July 24, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

The Mets' pitching rotation was clearly the team's weak spot last year. The Mets offense managed to produce the sixth most runs in the National League, but the pitching wasn't good enough to back the run support. You know that your team has pitching problems when Mike Pelfrey started out the season as the "ace" of the pitching rotation.

Pelfrey put together yet another dreadful season. He continued his roller coaster of a career, continuing to leave the Mets and their fans shaking their heads. Pelfrey is arbitration eligible this offseason and it seems as if the Mets will bring him back for net season. His projected salary will be in the $4.5-$6.5 million range.

Bringing Pelfrey back would be a straight value move. Pelfrey was worth around $15 million in his best seasons, but in his down seasons like last year, he was worth around $3 million. The Mets are clearly hoping for the good Pelfrey to show up next season.

There is some hope for Pelfrey. He will only be 28 come Opening Day 2012, and his stuff is pretty solid. Pelfrey just has to work on his concentration and mindset. It seems as if he can turn into a "nutcase" on the mound sometimes, and I don't think that the "ace" tagged helped his mindset too much.

Pelfrey undoubtedly has potential and talent, but the question is whether or not he has the mentality of a top of the order major league pitcher. That is one of the biggest questions in the Mets organization and we will find out the answer in this upcoming season.

Johan Santana is another big question mark for the Mets. Santana came to the Mets in 2008 in a blockbuster deal. He was supposed to bring the Mets all the way to the World Series, but we all know how those assumptions turned out, right?

There is no doubt that Santana has been good with the Mets though. That is, when he is healthy and on the mound. Santana missed the complete 2011 season due to having surgery to repair a tear of the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder. That is pretty serious surgery, and even though it took a while, it seems as if Santana has fully recovered.

He might never be the Cy Young caliber Santana anymore, but he can still be a very effective major league pitcher. The Mets lacked a true "ace" last year, and they are hoping that Santana's return will solve that problem.

R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese will join Santana and Pelfrey in the Mets' rotation next year. The fifth starter spot seems like it is up for grabs though.

Dillon Gee will have the upper hand in the battle for the fifth starter spot, but he definitely won't be handed the job. The Mets are looking into some free-agent pitchers to come on to the team and compete for a spot in the rotation. It has been reported that the Mets are targeting Jason Marquis this offseason.

Marquis grew up in New York and he clearly expressed his desire to play in the city he grew up in. Marquis is 33 years old and he would seemingly replace Chris Capuano's spot in the rotation. Capuano will not be coming back to the Mets next season due to his desire for a two-year contract, which the Mets are currently not fond of handing out.

The Mets have not been linked to any of the big name pitchers available this offseason. Japanese star pitcher, Yu Darvish is said to be out of the Mets' price range. C.J. Wilson will probably not be making his way to Queens due to the same reason; financial constraints.

The Mets will look to add one or two solid pitchers this offseason who will compete for a starting job in spring training. Don't look for the Mets to make any big splashes within the pitching market this offseason.

The return of Johan Santana will act as the team's big pitcher acquisition. Santana has the potential to transform this Mets' rotation, and the Mets front office are keeping their fingers crossed that Santana can come in and make the difference that fans expect him to make.