Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is Piniero Really the Best Pitching Option? And How the A's and Marlins Should Show the Mets Something.

If the Mets are intent on continuing their recent (last 24 hour) spending spree and are looking to sign Joel Piniero I would not be upset, but I'm not so sure that he's the best free agent pitcher available as most outlets are reporting. There is at least one untapped resource that might be worth the risk for a few reasons, Aroldis Chapman.

The knock on Chapman is that he may need seasoning and is "unproven". And, while it's impossible to deny that he is unproven on a professional level, he has been very effective in international play, which has served as a good barometer for other pitchers, ie., Daisuke Matsuzaka.

But to me the bigger question isn't how unproven Chapman is, but rather how proven really is Joel Piniero.

FACT: Piniero has only once in his 9 year career put up back-to-back seasons with an ERA under 4.00 (2002 and 2003).

FACT: Prior to last season Piniero had not had a season with an ERA under 4.00 since 2003.

FACT: Jeff Suppan had an ERA of 4.17, 3.57 and 4.17 in his last three years with the Cardinals before signing as a free agent with Milwaukee and putting up years with ERA's of 4.62, 4.96 and 5.29.

OPINION: Dave Duncan is a damn good pitching coach and is capable of doing some really nice things with some marginal pitchers. Whether that means taking a lesser talent (like Suppan) and getting the most out of him, or taking a talented player (like Piniero) and making him realize his talents, Duncan does a damn good job. So, the question becomes has Piniero realized his talents and discovered how to pitch heading into his prime? Or has Dave Duncan done another fine job making a good pitcher look great?

If I'm Minaya I have to take a few more things into consideration when looking at signing a starting pitcher to be your number 2 starter. First, Chapman is 21, ten years younger than Piniero. Chapman throws 7-9 mph harder than Piniero. And, Chapman is a lefty. Chapman will cost a bit more, but if he's within the Mets spending range than there is no reason not to take a shot on a 21 year old stud, who could become a young anchor to your pitching staff for years to come. Or, he can turn into Jose Contreras...

Picking between going after Chapman and Piniero is NOT an easy call for Omar, but here's a little something that pushes me over to the side of Chapman. The Marlins and A's are in on Chapman.

Now, what I'm about to say is as much of a knock on the Mets scouting as it is a glorification of the A's and Marlins scouting departments. If the Marlins and A's are both in on Chapman, the Mets should be too. The A's and Marlins are two organizations with financial restraints and the uncanny ability to produce solid young talent. So, if they are both believe this kid is the real deal and are willing to throw a good amount of money at Chapman, so should the Mets.

So, if the 21 year old flame throwing left hander is still in play for the Mets, I'd take a chance and seriously look into signing him before we're looking to trade our top prospects for him in 2-3 years anyway.

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