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Now what for the Mets? Pineiro and Molina sign elsewhere

Mets forced to look elsewhere as recent targets sign with other teams.

The New York Mets keep losing out on free agents. This week they lost out on catcher Bengie Molina and starting pitcher Joel Pineiro. The Mets had been pursuing both players and given offers.

It was clear Molina did not want to play in New York. If he did, he would have accepted the Mets offer instead of taking significantly less money to return to the Giants. In Molina, the Mets would have gotten a catcher with a decent glove and one that could provide some pop in the lineup. I don’t think its as big a loss as some people think however. It’s only a loss because the Mets just can’t seem to fill many of their holes this offseason. The only spot they have been able to fill was left field where newly signed Jason Bay will play.

Currently, the catchers on the Mets roster are Omir Santos and Henry Blanco. If the season started today, Santos would likely be the starter with Blanco backing him up. Last season with the Mets Santos played in 96 games, batting .260 with seven home runs. He had an on base percentage of .296. Blanco was with the San Diego Padres last season where he batted just .235 with six home runs in 67 games.

If the organization still wants to go outside to fill the catcher spot, the only two free agents that are starter quality are Yorvit Torrealba and Rod Barajas. Neither player stands out. Barajas played 125 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last season and batted just .226. He hit 19 home runs but his on base percentage was just .258. Torrealba played in 64 games for the Colorado Rockies where he batted .291 with two home runs.

I think right now, the Mets might be better off sticking with Santos and Blanco and see what you can get out of them. Who knows, Santos may be a reliable player at the catcher position. Torrealba and Barajas don’t seem to be worth the extra money. Especially when the Mets could spend that money elsewhere.

One position the Mets may spend a little more is starting pitching. The starting rotation needs some help and the Mets were hoping to land Joel Pineiro. Pineiro however came to a contract agreement with the Angels this week. Earlier this week the Mets sent some staff to watch free agent Ben Sheets throw. Sheets is coming off surgery and missed all of last season. The key here is, how much of a risk are you willing to take on a guy coming off surgery.

According to reports by many scouts and people that saw Sheets throw, he looked like the old Ben Sheets. Thats a good thing. The guy was one of the better pitchers in the National League before getting injured. His curveball looked very good and he was throwing about 92 MPH during the session.

It’s thought that Sheets is asking for at least $10 million a year. That might be a little to high for many teams considering the surgery. Is $10 million worth the risk? I’m not sure. It’s a tough call. Sheets would easily make that kind of money if he had stayed healthy. I think a more realistic number would be around $7.5 million a year. If the Mets can sign Sheets for that, they better do it! The starting pitching market is pretty thin now and the Mets definitely need some help in that department. They already lost out on John Lackey, Jason Marquis, and Joel Pineiro, they can’t afford to miss out on Sheets as well, especially if they can get him for the $7.5 million range.

John Smoltz was another name that has apparently interested the Mets. I don’t understand this one. I would stay away, but he is a veteran that knows how to pitch.

Some rumors have surfaced that they may try and trade for Braves starter Tim Hudson. I can’t see this happening. Hudson signed a contract extension back in November and has a 10-and-5 no trade clause. The Braves also traded one veteran starter already this offseason, Javier Vazquez to the Yankees.

Some other possibilities are, Jon Garland, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, Josh Fogg, Pedro Martinez, Mark Mulder, Chien-Ming Wang, and Kip Wells. Garland and Washburn would eat up innings for you. I see them as decent starters.  Wang is a guy I would take a chance on. He is also coming off surgery but will likely not get a big contract. If you can sign Wang to a small deal with incentives, it might be worth the risk.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I am expecting the Mets to stick with the catchers they currently have on their roster and add at least one starting pitcher, maybe two.

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