Many of you probably read this post, which bojudd left on the Applesauce cutting floor. I stopped reading it after "Penny is too much of an injury risk, despite pitching well for the Red Sox"*, but it provides a good working list for possible pitching targets. Click here and here to catch up on the Nationals I want so far.
* 5.63 ERA? 1.60 WHIP?? ......but.....he's......5......and......1....... mmm ellipses....
First off, watching Javier Vazquez pitch well for the Braves this season has been painful. Vazquez shares a skill-set very similar to Jake Peavy's, except unlike Peavy, he pitched many of his best years in the American League, in a tiny ballpark. Freed from the tyranny of the Cell, he has, as many of us expected, posted great numbers: 86 strikeouts and 16 walks in 70.1 IP, good for a 2.55 FIP. Considered a salary dump by the White Sox, Vazquez has almost earned back his entire contract already, with his 2.4 WAR equaling $11 Million dollars in value (also second in the NL behind Lincecum)*. Cerrone's right about this: the Braves would never trade him to the Mets in a pennant race. It would also require a Jake Peavy-worthy package, not the Luis Castillo+minimal salary relief the Mets offered the White Sox for him this summer.
*Yes I know Johan is better, that's why tRA is better than FIP. Go search 'Javier Vazquez FIP' on BtB.
While the missed opportunity on Vazquez would temper my excitement, one could make a reasonable argument for the Mets pursuing Jake Peavy. He'll likely be a 4 win pitcher from now to the end of the season, and would definitely be big upgrade over whoever the Mets use in the five-spot, be it Livan or Redding. Niese suffered some legitimately bad outings in AAA lately, and while I still believe in freeing Jon Niese, there's likely no chance the organization shares my feelings now. Maine and Pelfrey look better, but Perez is still vacationing on the moon and Livan could self-destruct any day now. The stability of the rotation could be a problem again down the stretch, and no other pitcher on that list brings both dependability and quality like Peavy. Still, for the very reason that Pelfrey and Maine look better, trading for Peavy would probably be overkill. Eric linked to this article, and I don't think trading Martinez for Peavy needs to happen now or ever. His contract would also eventually become a burden , even if he pitches well.
Before losing his control this year, Jonathan Sanchez showed tons of promise as a pitcher. He's still young enough to right himself and would be a nice pick-up if he could be had for anything less than Martinez, Niese, or Holt. Trading Marte and some other fringe prospect for Sanchez might be a good gamble, and even when he's bad, Sanchez would likely be no worse than last year's Oliver Perez. He's not a pitcher who comes in and stabilizes the rotation, but he provides depth and upside, too things that would not hurt. Sabean's also not the
best a very good GM, so there's a legitimate chance he can be stolen (a la Javier Vazquez, Braves).
Erik Bedard, like Russ Branyan, is a free agent at the end of the year and a player the Mariners are likely motivated to sell high on. His injury history may prevent type-A free agent status, making the urgency to trade even greater. When healthy, he's a dominate pitcher, as good as Peavy. His skills, high K's with some homer issues, would be well suited for a move to the NL and Citi Field. He likely wouldn't require a Peavy-like package, so while there's a considerable injury risk, it's a risk the Mets should look into.
Jason Marquis and Jarrod Washburn, despite track records of being terrible, are having surprisingly good years. While their ERA's are artificially lowered by good defense, both pitchers have managed to stay above average (in the green, as it were). Buying high on too historically terrible pitchers, however, can only end badly. Even if either keeps up his pace, it's doubtful either pitcher would be worth the ZOMG 3 ERA package Minaya would likely give.
Roy Oswalt is tempting because of his "ace" track-record and probable low(ish)-cost, but there are many red flags. His steady decline in strikeouts has been well documented, but this season, for the first time ever, he's pitched genuinly poorly. He has given up way more homers than before, which often indicates bad luck, but the difference actually lies in a traditionally very good groundball pitcher only getting 39.6 % GB. Granted Citi would help with his new flyball tendencies, but a flyball Roy Oswalt is not a pitcher you want to be paying 16 Million a year until 2011.
There, of course, are a million other starting pitchers on crappy teams out there, so if you want to discuss someone not on the MLBTR list, I'll gladly indulge below. In general, the Mets need to make some move, whether it be an infielder, outfielder, or pitcher. They should probably also be the first team to move, as the lineup they've been fielding lately can't sustain a playoff run. That may sound dangerous, but as much as we criticize the front office, give Minaya credit where it's due: he's made some decent decision calculus on the blockbuster trade front. But they said that about Bavasi's first few years too.