I posted more recently than twenty-eight days ago, but talking about Chip Caray doesn’t count.

So what’d I miss?  Plenty.  And nothing.

Luis Castillo is gone.  No, he isn’t.  Yes, he is.  No, he isn’t.  Roy Halladay will be a Met.  No, he won’t.  Yes, he will.  Not unless the Mets pick up and move to the West Coast, and take their Dodger-esque ball park with them.  John Lackey’s a bigger wild card than It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Charlie Kelly. (The preceding link is intended only for mature audiences.  Viewer discretion is advised.)

Alex Cora signed and Elmer Dessens either has or will very soon.  Brian Schneider, who was not on the radar, is completely off the radar, and Chris Coste is a Met, but he barely registered when he wasn’t, and I’m fine with keeping our relationship at that level.

So there.  That’s what’s transpired, it seems.  And a lot of maybes, coulds, and possiblies.  Enough to make me glad I’m not a sports journalist.  Not enough to make me stop daydreaming about it when I’m trying to calculate a company’s overhead, but enough nonetheless.

There’s vitriol, here.  Not seething; not yet.  But looking at my notes for the free agent starting pitchers posts that I either bailed on or got shanghaied away from (you choose your perspective), I’m dismayed by the prospects.  Todd Wellemeyer?  I was going to try and make a case for Todd Wellemeyer?

There’s more.  Oh, believe me, there’s more.

Ben Sheets’ only definitive, demonstrable use at this point would be as a prognosticator of rain delays.  Pay the man a token for his elbow, stick that by the home run apple in center, and designate the $10MM or $12MM that would’ve gone for the rest of him, for something else.

Hey, you know who’s a bajillion million trillion years old?  Bartolo Colon.

If Braden “Blooper” Looper, a former Met reliever, is considered for a spot in the team’s rotation, then I imagine Aaron Heilman’s head will explode.  And that might be reason alone to do it.  In an odd bit of confluence, Looper told Sporting News (you’ll click here for the report via Yahoo! Sports) that he’d be cool with signing with the Cubs.

And speaking of Cubs both potential and former, word is the Texas Rangers just paid $7.5 million for a year of Rich Harden.  Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times‘s Mariners Blog shows a northwesterner’s measured equanimity
in discussing the Mariners’ fortunes, in light of their NOT getting
their man.  I have a friend who called me up as the news was breaking. 
She sounded ready to throw a chair. 

I don’t know.  I’m with Baker.  Name a season in which Rich Harden’s thrown more than two hundred innings one hundred fifty innings.  …

An out below one hundred ninety in 2004.  He gave up five runs in one inning to the 2004 Reds, and Griffey had nothing to do with it.  Positively Perez-ish.

And speaking of that game? Justin Duchscherer replaced Harden during that inning.  Jerry Crasnick’s report from back in August may jog your memory re: Duchscherer.  I’m not pointing that out to say the guy couldn’t take the heat in New York or should have a strike against him as a result of his condition–far from it.  He’s either a competitor and should want to play where he can show he’s the best, or he should stop playing the game and do something else, which would be fine and great.  But he can’t come to the Mets after the Mets’ 2009 season, unless he’s literally made of steel.  Heavy-gauge steel.  Non-corrosive… you get the point.  A hip injury will lead to some kind of metal eventually, but certainly not now, and not in time to be a reasonable and inexpensive option.

And while I’m complaining about people with extended stays on the DL, I remain unconvinced that paying Erik Bedard anything more than a year, a plane ticket, and room and board is a good idea.  Bringing us back to the Seattle Times and Geoff Baker: word is he’ll already miss part of 2010.

Joel Piniero seems like a trap.  And Jayson Stark (as I read from Matt Cerrone’s redesigned Metsblog) is saying Piniero’s agent is worth more than a three-year, $10 million deal.  Expensive trap for a guy that just recently seemed to figure things out, at the Mets’ expense.

Noah Lowry hasn’t been right since 2007, and recently had a rib removed to help relieve a syndrome I’ve never even heard of.  And I once spent sixteen hours with Wikipedia, the complete Talking Heads discography, and a bottle of whiskey (a blizzard knocked out my cable).

Jarrod Washburn?  Uninspiring. 

And the only good thing about Brett Tomko, since at least 2005, has been Julia Schultz.

I can see Jon Garland as that aforementioned reasonable option in a typical off-season, but the dearth of real, electric talent means an inflated market for guys like Garland.  You don’t need me to tell you this; everyone’s shouting about it and, in this rare instance, it bears the rasp of scrutiny.  So Jon Garland’s $6.25 million in 2009 becomes 2010’s $10 million, or $6.25MM a year for multiple years, because the guy’s gotten tired of seeing his reaction to bad news caught by game cameras.

And that’s the thing.  There are two free agents out there who I’d hate to say anything bad about.  And I’ve had a rough four weeks, so I’m looking to say a bad word about any- and everyone I can.  And they will cost scads of cash.  SCADS, I tells ya.

First guy is Jason Marquis.  He’ll ask for A.J. Burnett numbers in cash if not years, and if you look at his 2009 quick line and Burnett’s 2009 quick line, they’re nearly identical (Marquis’s BAA is twenty points higher and his WHIP is two points lower).  So I think he’d have a solid case. 

Mostly, though, whenever I watch Jason Marquis pitch, I don’t get that knot in my stomach like I do when I watch A.J. Burnett.  Marquis doesn’t worry me.  I know his stats show a Romo-esque knack for fading down the stretch, but he doesn’t worry me.

So much of the conversation surrounding the 2010 Mets is going to be about peace of mind.  In the rotation, whoever follows Johan Santana has to inspire confidence.  That guy’s going to have to be a master craftsman, or a bulldog.

Or both, as the case may be.

I’ve made my feelings on John Lackey plain, at one point using the phrase “out of your gourd” to explain the mess that the 2010 rotation would look like given the numbers that were, then, kicking around about the man.  Five years, $80 million.  Six years, $100 million?  Who’s to say, besides his agent?

I forgot to mention that I’m writing not from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, but from my exceedingly cold bedroom.  I have no idea what Garland, Marquis, or Lackey are asking for, cash or years-wise.  The trend appears to be richer contracts for lesser talent.

Brinkmanship is another trend, one that’s come together as I’ve read snippets of, and heard on the radio, and watched while putting up my Christmas tree and repainting walls has been alarming.  Seems as though everybody’s screwed, and have pushed their clubs to the limit in fear of being caught as last guy screwed. 

Despite talk of restraint prior to the meetings, there’s been no restraint. (Picking through Ken Rosenthal’s reports here.) Three years and $15 million for Brandon Lyon does not constitute restraint.  Neither does the aforementioned Harden deal, some $9 million for the wisdom of Kevin Millwood, nearly $12 million for Andy Pettitte (that’s just galling), or three years and $30 million for Randy Wolf.  This, good people, is King Midas in reverse.

Does not bode well.  Maybe I’ve had my nose in projected budgets and vendors’ insurance quotes for too long recently to see any sign of brightness in people throwing money, like confetti, out the figurative window, but I don’t think so.  I’m quite concerned that those three guys–Garland, Marquis, and Lackey–will slip to a team with a GM even battier than Omar Minaya, and we’ll be watching a Spring Training full of Kelvim Escobars and Lenny DiNardo retreads.

On that unhappy note, I’m going to bed.

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