Ben Sheets won’t be a Met. Didn’t think he would be, and I wasn’t thinking he should be except for a song. Instead, the dude got himself an entire $10 million opera (albeit an opera whose running time is just one year). I’m not crushed. Think of the last time the Mets counted on somebody who missed an entire season with an injury, somebody who looked real good showing off his stuff in a controlled winter’s workout during which he was judged to appear sound. Why yes, that was Mo Vaughn, immediately inserted as starting first baseman and cleanup hitter for 2002 despite not playing in 2001. Sheets isn’t Vaughn, but the circumstances strike me as too close to imagine no elbow discomfort in 2010.
Jon Garland won’t be a Met. He was looking like a possible post-Sheets option for about five hours today, but the Padres took care of that.
John Smoltz might be a Met. When I read he was going to be a free agent, I had hoped the Mets would sign him. I’m referring, however, to when he was going to be a free agent following his awesome 1996 Cy Young campaign. Yes, that would have been quite the ticket. As for doing it now, I don’t know that I can muster any firm Orel Hershiser 1999 wise head/still useful/him a Met? rationalizations on Smoltz’s behalf.
I’ll try, though.
Unlike Sheets, Smoltz pitched in 2009. Not all that well, but two contenders did see something in his 42-year-old right arm. His Red Sox stay indicated his career was forked, as in what you stick in a piece of meat that’s done. Then Smoltz was off to St. Louis, where, while never exceeding six innings in any of his seven Cardinal starts, he did strike out 40 batters in 38 innings (two numbers lower than his current age, but who’s counting?). His WHIP, in an admittedly way different context from the heart of his lengthy Atlanta heyday, was 1.184, just a shade over where it was in 2007, his last full season as a starter.
That’s not an overwhelming endorsement of Omar’s latest loopy get-better-quick scheme, but I have to confess I’m slightly intrigued and not altogether repelled at the notion of this particular Brave in a Met uniform. Penciling in old John Smoltz as a starter would be a white flag, but I wonder if there’s enough there to merit an incentive-laden invite to St. Lucie. Maybe Smoltz has a few good middle relief/setup innings left in him. Maybe he knows something about pitching that he could communicate to Pelfrey or Perez or Niese or Nieve before he packs his clubs and hits the links for good.
Or maybe all it shows, even on a day when Johan Santana was, thankfully, feeling “pretty good” on a minicamp mound, is that when it comes to pitching, we’re going to be grasping at uncertain straws for a while to come.