Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
from 'The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock' by another expat who lived in England, T.S. Eliot
(editors note: the proverbial ink had barely begun to dry on the opening paragraphs of what was to be my inaugural post upon return from my annual Met sabbatical when suddenly and without warning, just as I was prepared to launch into a bitter tirade about the inactivity of the Mets front office, wham! They go and sign K-Rod. For the sake of purity of art and to symbolise the retroactive nature of offseason bile, the opening paragraphs have been preserved in their original, archaic form...)
Firsly, in closing my mind to most things Mets, yes it has been nice not to have to stew in bitter juices these last three months or so, bashing my head repeatedly against the Holy Wall of Mets Futility.
Waking up to the first fleas of the 2009 Mets season...
Secondly, yes I did make it to NYC, saw the auld Shea, the new Shea (Citi Park or Bankrupt Park or The House That Bailout Money Bought, whatever they're calling it these days) and the Shea that in October was devoid of World Series games.
(Now here of course, the post immediately becomes dated because as we are now aware, the Mets have taken the first step in signing K-Rod quickly, efficiently and economically...of course the cynical take by Newsday should not be missed - yes the gaping hole in the maw of the Mets bullpen has been filled but psst, what about the starters?
Ok, I'm delighted Omar has done the no-brainer. A rich club signs the best available free agent to fill the most obvious hole on the team and does so at a reasonable bargain. Whoop.
Let's face it, any Met fan could have done that in his or her sleep.
It was pretty much an obvious move and pretty much the most necessary move of all.
So well done, Omar, for doing the obvious.
All around the world the signing of Francisco Rodriguez was celebrated...
Now, bearing in mind 1 1/2 starters are already gone from the starting rotation and the fact that the rest of the bullpen leading up to this shiny new ace closer is is essence, let's face it folks, a steaming pile of mediocrity, this is like answering only one part of a five-part question.
So, golf clap ended, the Army can now move on, after months of silence, fingers stiff from inactivity, to address the remaining, multiple concerns.
Starter: Pedro is gone. I still say the instant credibility his signing those long years ago gave the Mets was worth every penny. I will still miss his quirky views and I will still be rooting for him, even if he isn't signed by the Mets, to have one last hurrah of a season. Last Spring Training he was everybody's Number Two after Johan. By May, he was nearly forgotten and then by September, a ghost of his former self. For sentimental reasons, if the Mets could bring him back with an incentive-laden Minor League deal, I would applaud this more with great vigor and joy. If not, adios, hombre. You didn't bring us to a World Series but you and hundreds of millions of dollars of free agent cash brought us some respectibility...for awhile....until we choked two years in a row.
Ok, so Pedro is gone, replaced, let's say, by Pelfrey, who shocked and amazed us with his sudden blossoming and Maine, who we expected to do well but who is now going to be recovering from shoulder surgery.
That means the starting rotation is Johan, Pelfrey, an injured Maine and....nothing.
Last season, Oliver Perez in spurts, mind, was a fantastic pitcher and quite often rose to the occasion in games against key rivals. Whilst he was somewhat less erratic than usual, he was still the Jekyll and Hyde of major league starters. Making him more UNappealing is that he is represented by the reptilian Scott Boras which automatically makes his future contract astronimically out of tune with reality.
I'll make my first guarantee of the 2009 season:
No matter if Perez wins 25 games for the Phillies or Braves next season and shuts out the Mets every time he pitches against them, no matter WHO formulates part of the Mets ridiculously skimpy and notoriously ineffective starting rotation next season, I will never find myself writing (or saying aloud) "goddamnit! Why didn't we sign Oliver Perez to an astronomical, multi-year contract when we had the chance?!"
I won't even think it subliminally or dream it some time in mid-July.
Oliver Perez, don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out. We dont' need you or your inconsistency.
So, with two, if we're lucky, three of the five pitchers of our starting rotation sorted, who would we turn to for replacements?
Now it goes without saying that due to intense interest from many other teams, the glory-hole free agent starters available, the likes of C.C., Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett and Ben Sheets, for example, will not be Mets. Or let's say, shouldn't be Mets. Firstly, the Mets aren't even in the running for CC and don't appear to be willing to toss their hat in on Lowe. Forget about the injury prone Burnett and Sheets, both a waste of money for anything but a two year contract.
What I'd be looking for firstly is an innings-eater who doesn't surrender 8 runs a start. The key of course is to move quickly, make a few signings before the Big Fish sign and other teams become desperate for anybody at any price. Move quickly of course means like, now.
Freddy Garcia once fit that bill, is coming off injury and could be had perhaps even under the radar.
The signing of Jon Garland would not bring tears of joy to anyone's eyes but look, rather than overpay for multi-season mediocrity, this guy has gone at least 190 innings per year for 8 straight years. If Omar moved now, he might get him at a reasonable price. IF his agent is dumb enough to get him signed now, that is, rather than waiting til all the big names fall and Garland begins to look more attractive.
Oddly, one might even root for a trade involving the Cubs getting Jake Peavey because conceivably, this might free up Jason Marquis' availability. Granted, getting Peavey is alot better than retaining Marquis but signing Garland or Garcia along with a sort of Heilman for Marquis trade has a sort of better-than-nothing appeal to it.
Of course the other interesting concept is to finally let Aaron Heilman have his way and give him his big shot at being a starter. This isn't an answer but a fall-back position. Nonetheless, considering his value as a relief pitcher is zero and his trade value hovering in that same neighbourhood, the Mets might just get lucky and find a plug to the rotational hole in this manner. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on it but I'm 100% giving Heilman a chance to redeem himself as a starter.
Now then, before you've been bored to tears by more Stating of the Obvious, I'll save the other moaning, like second base, left field and uh, the bullpen other than the closer for another day. If you're good, maybe even tomorrow.
Until then, K-Rod is a Met. So now we've got the best starter and the best closer and little else in between.