Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mets Must Sign The #2 Pitcher They Sorely Lack(ey)

If it's Saturday, it must be time for the weekly John Lackey blog on Studious Metsimus. In today's installment, we bring you hope that our favorite free agent pitcher might be pursued heavily by Omar Minaya. At least that's what David Lennon's article in today's Newsday seems to say when he reported that the Mets will be seriously bidding for Lackey's services when the righty hits the free agent market next Friday.

Omar met with Lackey's agent, Steve Hilliard, earlier this week and left the conversation with a favorable first impression. Although Lackey might command a contract worth up to $100 million, especially because he is one of the top free agent pitchers available, he might be had for less than that figure.

If you recall, last year Omar Minaya went into the offseason with the bullpen on his mind. Billy Wagner was not going to be available to the Mets and a replacement was the top priority for the team. He targeted free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and went after him hard.

The original reports had Rodriguez looking for a five-year, $75 million contract. The Mets were able to sign him for only three years and $37 million. Therefore, they should not be scared off by the initial $100 million amount being tossed around for acquiring Lackey.

If Omar can go into the Winter Meetings with the same determination he did last year to get what he wanted, he might be able to sign Lackey for much less than $100 million. The offer might start at four years, but if a fifth year is needed to get Lackey to sign on the dotted line, perhaps K-Rod's desires of a five-year, $75 million contact might become the magic number for signing Lackey.

What will it take to get John Lackey to smile for the New York Mets in 2010? Whatever the dollar amount is and however many years it takes, Omar must make sure his top priority at the Winter Meetings is signing John Lackey. Once he gets his man, then he can focus on the offensive side of the picture.

Johan Santana and John Lackey would provide the best 1-2 punch in the division. On days the offense hits the snooze button, having one of those two pitchers on the mound would make it easier for the Mets to have a chance to win. After all, can you really depend on Oliver Perez to win a 1-0 game?

If the Mets sign John Lackey, then pitchers such as Mike Pelfrey and John Maine can become the #3 and #4 pitchers they were always meant to be. There was no way the Mets were going to compete with either of these guys being their #2 starter. #2 guys are so high up on the pitching chain that they can't afford to be anything but consistent, a quality that Pelfrey and Maine did not possess in 2009.

The Winter Meetings begin in less than a month. It's time to put an extra log in the fire and hope it heats up discussions between Omar Minaya and Steve Hilliard. Getting that #2 starter will go a long way towards making the Mets a #1 team.

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