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Mets, Pedro, the Toe, and Clemens: The Big "What If"?

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by user DNL


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Roger Clemens suggested, in an interview with USA Today that he'll retire at the end of the World Baseball Classic.

David Pinto believes that, being a competitor, "at some point [Clemens] finds a team." And as Clemens said:

"But the only thing is if I'm sitting in the stands in Boston, or New York, 
or somewhere in May, and get the itch again, who knows what will happen?"

That "New York" is probably a reference to the Yankees. But what about the Mets?

Picture it: May 25th, 2006. The Mets, seven weeks into the season, have a three game lead in their division. But the toe injury that kept Pedro Martinez out of the WBC flares up, knocking Pedro onto the DL for a month, if not more. One of the Mets biggest weaknesses is starting pitching depth. Absent an acquisition, they have to rely on guys like John Maine or rookie Brian Bannister.

Would the Mets make a run at Clemens? If so, should they? As a Mike Piazza fan, it's hard for me to stomach the idea of Clemens pitching his home games at Shea Stadium. And Clemens is a Red Sox guy, or a Yankee, or ... well, not a "Met."

But the rest of the picture says go for it.

The Non-Clemens Routes

Trading Lastings Milledge for Barry Zito is idiotic, especially mid-year. Zito is a free agent after this season and Milledge is too good a prospect to use on a rent an arm.

Blowing five to six starts on a guy like Maine or Bannister is also silly. These guys need the full year at AAA. Maine turns 25 in May, and cannot afford a shuttle-year -- this is his last best chance to further his development in AAA. Bannister is a few months older and similarly needs some developmental time. Both would be decent late-August/September call-up, but neither is an effective stop-gap for a contender.

Going after a less-than-stellar pitcher -- say, a Josh Towers -- is something the Mets simply are unable to effectively do. The Mets off-season cost them a lot of trade chips, leaving the cupboard virtually bare of decent items. (This assumes that Omar Minaya would not trade Milledge or Mike Pelfrey for a guy like Towers.) Jeff Keppinger? Probably not enough. Philip Humber? Too much.

Finally, there's the nightmare scenario: Jose Lima or Darren Oliver. Makes me nauseous even thinking about it.

The Clemens Advantages

First, he's perhaps the greatest pitcher ever.

Second, he'll be well rested.

Third, he's cheap.

Guys like him just aren't availabe in May, at least not for $6-10 million. If you wanted to grab Johan Santana or heck, Chris Carpenter, the cost would be Milledge, Pelfrey, and the money to pay these guys. Even a guy like Kip Wells gets paid over $3 million this year.

And remember, we are replacing Pedro here. We need to add an ace, not a schlub.

But even if Pedro doesn't go down, the Mets should be making a play at the Rocket. A Pedro/Clemens-anchored rotation is a fierce weapon in the playoffs -- as good as, if not better than, Pedro/Curt Schilling in 2004 or Schilling/Randy Johnson in 2001. With the Mets offense and bullpen, this would be a season to remember. And all those bad memories of Clemens? Forgotten.


Date

Wed 03/08/06, 10:19 am EST



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