Seven down, 13 more to go. That’s the math if you’re thinking signing Shaun Marcum to a one-year deal will replace R. A. Dickey’s production in the rotation.
Marcum was 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts last year with Milwaukee, good enough to be a reliable fifth starter. Dickey, of course, one year wonder or not, was an ace who won the Cy Young Award.
To make up the remaining 13 victories, the Mets need three more each from Johan Santana, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Even so, it still puts the Mets 14 games below .500.
Once Marcum passes his physical and the ink dries on the contract, the Mets avoid being the only team not to have signed a free agent this offseason.
Marcum pitched 124 innings last year, and if he made eight to 10 more starts could go as high as 180, which is better than giving those innings to the bullpen. More innings from all the starters is essential, but is that reasonable to expect from health concerns Santana and Gee?
The projection is the Mets could be ready to contend by 2015, but Santana is gone after this year and with Marcum possibly gone, that leaves them searching for two more starters. One, if Zack Wheeler pans out.
Meanwhile, the Mets must still address their outfield, which as of now – from left to right – is Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is gone, having gotten his two-year deal ($6 million) from the Cubs.
After Atlanta acquired Justin Upton, they will not keep two-time Gold Glove winner Michael Bourn, so he’s available.
Bourn made $6.8 million last season and the competition could be intense for the .272 lifetime hitter, with reportedly Seattle, the Dodgers and Cubs, Tampa Bay and Baltimore interested.
The issue for the Mets, in addition to money, is draft-pick compensation. The Mets’ thinking is they’d rather take the risk of what their No. 1 pick could become opposed to signing Bourn to a multi-year deal knowing he has little power and his speed would decline as he got older.
Looking at it in those terms, and also knowing Bourn will not be the sole missing piece, it is understandable they’d be reluctant. Bourn is a good player, but not a difference maker.
In addition to a veteran outfielder, the Mets need bullpen experience. Pedro Feliciano, whom they burned out from over use, is back, but just a warm body. Brian Wilson remains available, but wasn’t impressive in his workout. Wilson is recovering from surgery and there’s concern he won’t be ready for the start of the season.
Hell, there’s concern if the Mets will be ready for the start of the season.