Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 27, 2010
BASEBALL: Nothing Doing

For the most part, the recent signings of Joel Pineiro with the Angels and Jon Garland with the Padres is good news for the Mets, as both were rumored to be on Omar Minaya's radar, and neither seems a reliable option. Pineiro, 31, is coming off a good year under Dave Duncan's tutelage in St. Louis, but 0.5 HR/9 and 1.1 BB/9 are the kinds of microscopic rates that are hard to sustain every year - the fact is, Pineiro has a 4.97 ERA over the past five seasons for a reason, and 4.9 K/9 in that period is a big part of that.

Garland is more useful, since he's tremendously durable - he's started 32 or 33 games 8 years in a row, during which time he's averaged 205 innings per year - but he, too, hasn't cracked 5 K/9 since 2003. With Pelfrey already in the rotation, adding another very low-K pitcher would probably put more strain on the Mets defense than it already faces.

The failure to sign Ben Sheets, snapped up by Billy Beane and the A's, is more depressing. Sheets' injury record is pretty grim - he averaged 21 starts and 135 IP from 2005-2007, and after a solid comeback in 2008 he missed all of last season. And Sheets' K rate has also tailed off with the years, to around 7 per 9 innings. But when healthy, Sheets is a legitimate #2 starter, and would represent a genuine upgrade.

Still, avoiding the dumb moves is progress, at this point.

UPDATE: I should add that I have very mixed feelings about John Smoltz. On the one hand, Smoltz pitched far better than his 6.35 ERA would suggest - 2.1 BB/9 and 8.4 K/9 are both good figures, and 1.3 HR/9 is high but not bad enough to preclude a guy with a 4-to-1 K/BB ratio from being successful; he cut his HR rate more than in half after moving from Boston to St. Louis. On the other hand, all good things come to an end, and a 43-year-old pitcher who has started just 21 games in the past two seasons can't be penciled in to just keep putting up those kinds of numbers week in and week out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:35 PM | Baseball 2010 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Odd that you credit Smoltz with cutting his HR rate after moving from Boston to St. Louis. I bet he really would have improved if he'd moved to an A Ball team and pitched against 19 year olds.

Four of the top six HR hitting teams in baseball were in the AL East last year, so it is likely that Smoltz' better numbers pitching for a team in the NL Central had little to do with any adjustments he might have made and a lot to do with the power difference between the NL and the the beasts in the AL East.

Posted by: Shantaram at January 27, 2010 7:06 PM

For the money it took to land Garland ($5.3 mil, one year) I'd have signed him. I think it's hard to argue that the Mets wouldn't be better with him on the roster than with anyone they have or can get for cash, or that he was overpaid. So the only real argument I see is that the Wilpons either don't have or won't spend six million dollars, which is rather depressing.

I'd have stayed away from Sheets if it required a $qo million guarantee. That's more likely than not going to be a flop.

Posted by: Jerry at January 27, 2010 7:58 PM

The Smoltz numbers are smoke and mirrors. I was sad that it didn't work out in Boston but he just threw way too many pitches that didn't bite, sink or move away from the dead center of the plate. His last 20 innings as member of the Sox he gave up 8 HRs to Texas, Baltimore and the Yankees. He moved on to St. Louis and pitched great. Why? These are all the teams he picthed against in 2009 for the Cards:

San Diego
Washington
Milwaukee (twice)
Cubs
Houston
Cincinnati

Of course his HR rate dropped. He was pitching against teams that couldn't hit all year, were in the tank at the end of the years and were playing "hot minor league prospects" as starters. Smoltz is one of the all-time greats but if he pitches like I saw him pitch he will get raked.

Posted by: jim at January 28, 2010 11:55 AM

The Smoltz numbers are smoke and mirrors. I was sad that it didn't work out in Boston but he just threw way too many pitches that didn't bite, sink or move away from the dead center of the plate. His last 20 innings as member of the Sox he gave up 8 HRs to Texas, Baltimore and the Yankees. He moved on to St. Louis and pitched great. Why? These are all the teams he picthed against in 2009 for the Cards:

San Diego
Washington
Milwaukee (twice)
Cubs
Houston
Cincinnati

Of course his HR rate dropped. He was pitching against teams that couldn't hit all year, were in the tank at the end of the years and were playing "hot minor league prospects" as starters. Smoltz is one of the all-time greats but if he pitches like I saw him pitch he will get raked.

Posted by: jim at January 28, 2010 11:55 AM
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