Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Now Pitching?

I tend to pay these minor signings the Mets make from time to time little to no mind, and most of the people I know or the other blogs I tend to read generally do about the same. But for some reason the Tim Redding signing seems to have spurred a whole flurry of discussion all over the place, and I'm intrigued enough by it to chime in myself.

Who is Tim Redding?
A native of Rochester, NY, he's also the nephew of Joyce Randolph and if I'm not mistaken a High School classmate of a College friend (El Guapo will have to verify this for me). I recall Tim Redding as being one of a number of highly-touted pitching prospects that came out of the Houston Astros system in the early 2000s. He, along with Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller and Carlos Hernandez, were supposed to be the next generation of great Astro pitchers. Much in the vein of Generation K, however, most of these pitchers didn't live up to their hype. Miller and Hernandez were injured far too often, and Redding simply was ineffective. Though Redding had a respectable year in 2003, going 10-14 with a 3.68 ERA , the year after, he was more miserable than not and bounced to San Diego and the Yankees in '05 before failing to make the Majors in 2006. Redding landed in Washington in 2007, and stayed there through 2008, as a nondescript pitcher in the back of the rotation on a bad team. Now, he's on the Mets. Here, we expect little more of him than to take the ball every 5th day and not kill you, which, I suppose, he will do.

Given the fact that there were only so many names the Mets would be able to pick from among Free Agent pitchers that were going to somehow fill out the rotation with Santana, Maine and Pelfrey, I suppose the Mets had to make this move. It looks all the wiser if the Derek Lowe to Atlanta deal is in fact confirmed (it seems to be darting around like a rumor at this point). This leaves us with Oliver Perez, who has been offered a contract, and we know what we're getting with him. Many people I know would prefer to let Ollie go. In fact, Perez's numbers and Redding's numbers weren't exactly that far apart if you look closely. Tim Marchman brings up the point that Redding's major problem isn't so much inconsistency as much as he's a strict flyball pitcher, and gives up a lot of HRs (27 in '08). Redding hasn't been helped by spending his career pitching in a hitter's haven in Houston, and Nationals Park was, I believe, fairly skewed towards offense (at least when the Mets put up some 12-0 wins there I think that's true). Citi Field is, from what people seem to believe, perhaps more favoring to pitchers than Shea was. Should this be the case, many of Redding's fly balls should be outs instead.

Moreover, though his WHIP of 1.429 in '08 isn't outstanding, he doesn't walk many (only 65 in 180 IP) and has a K/BB ratio of nearly 2:1. On the other hand, we have Oliver Perez, who has the annoying habit of being Oliver Perez. If Oliver Perez had somehow had the season he had in 2007 in '08, perhaps it would be logical for him to ask for 4 years and $48 million or whatever he's asking for. But, he didn't. And somehow, giving a pitcher with a pretty marginal record an incentive-laden $2.25 million contract seems to make a lot more sense to me than shelling out some major bucks for a pitcher who can't keep his head on straight. That is, at least, when it seemed like the Mets were going to land Derek Lowe. Given what the Mets appear to be trying to do, their only option right now to try to finish out their rotation the way they want is to bring Ollie back. It's either that or Ben Sheets, who's just as scary a proposition.

I guess the bottom line with Redding is, according to Marchman, and with whom I agree, is that he's going to, more than likely, take the ball on a regular basis out of the 5th rotation spot, as opposed to the Mets having to roll the dice with Jonathon Niese or whoever else is kicking around in AAA (the Claudio Vargas/Tony Armas/Jose Lima types) and making the spot a major question mark.

It doesn't, however, answer one of my larger questions for the Mets, which is how, exactly, do they plan to remedy their major situational offense problem when it appears they are content to return largely the same lineup from last season.

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