It’s not easy following the Mets this winter. It seems like every day the waiting game is being played.
Sure, in one 36 hour period during the Winter Meetings, the team totally revamped the bullpen, but unless Tim Redding excites you, the winter has been a giant yawn.
Continuing with their methodic approach, the Mets are taking their time in signing their No. 2 starter for the year. Do they take back the sometimes brilliant, sometimes erratic Oliver Perez or go with the much older, yet more consistent Derek Lowe?
Although Lowe is a more accomplished pitcher, the Mets should just go out and re-sign the 27 year-old Mexican lefty. Yes, he can be frustrating, but Perez will give more value to the organization as the Mets ride out a three or four year deal.
It’s just simple logic. If the Mets pay Lowe $14 to $15 million a year, they will be rewarding him for past performances rather than future returns. A 36 year-old in June, Lowe will have a natural decline in his production just based on the age factor.
We have seen this before. As Al Leiter progressed into his late 30s, his cutter started stopped tying up batters and caught more of the plate. Tom Glavine pitched OK when he was in Queens, but just wasn’t the same Hall of Famer the Mets expected when they signed him at age 37.
Still not convinced? Then look at the last two seasons, where Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner lost a year each due to injuries.
Now the Mets want to sign another over-35 pitcher. Sure, Lowe could be the exception the rule and his sinker could keep on dropping until the age of 40. Remember, he is a big man and pitched in relief until the age of 29. But it’s more likely his out pitch with start staying up in the zone, which could cause havoc later in his contract.
Perez is no slam dunk, though, but the slam dunks signed in the Bronx a month ago. Yes, he can he erratic and frustrating at times, as he looks like a world beater one inning and a batting practice pitcher the next. But in the absence of any true aces on the market, Perez is the Mets best bet.
First and foremost, he is a big game player.
Last season, the lefty rose to the occasion versus the Mets biggest rivals. Against the Yankees in 2008, Perez went 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and in six starts versus the Marlins, he was 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA. Yet his most impressive numbers came in game where the Phillies opposed him. In 26 innings last season, the lefthander allowed one earned run to Philadelphia – a Jayson Werth homer in July. That’s a 0.35 ERA for those scoring at home.
And remember, with a better bullpen, the lefty won’t have to stretch himself out, but rather he can worry about the game in front of him, which will only make him a better pitcher in the long run.
Plus at age 28, there’s a possibility Perez will improve. At the very least, the Mets will be getting what they paid for because he is a pitcher in his prime, and will be a very safe bet for three to four seasons.
So if the Mets want to stay in this sweepstakes just to bid the Braves, Brewers, or Phillies up on Lowe, so be it. But at the end of the day, they need to realize the team’s long term best bet is to re-sign Oliver Perez.