Jan 13

Braves get Lowe. What’s next?

Sixty million over four years got it done for Derek Lowe with the Braves. The Mets were a year and $24 million short. Oliver Perez, who should feel unwanted right about now, wants four years and the Mets are at three.

Ben Sheets is still out there, injured arm and all. So are Pedro Martinez and Randy Wolf. Whatever the signing, it has been a disappointing winter for the Mets regarding their starting pitching.

The Mets entered the offseason wanting to address their bullpen, but that includes getting starters capable of eating innings. It is not unfair to attach questions to four of the five starters after Johan Santana.

Mike Pelfrey: Will he continue to progress or hit a wall, which often happens in a pitcher’s development.

John Maine: Coming off surgery.

Tim Redding: A .500 pitcher last year with a lifetime losing record. OK, for a fifth starter, but the expectations could rise.

Fifth starter: To be determined. Jon Niese will compete. Bringing back Martinez might have to be the plan.

Jan 12

Mets reach agreement with Redding ….

REDDING: Deal in place for fifth starter.

REDDING: Deal in place for fifth starter.

The Mets have a deal in principle (one year, $2.25 million) with Tim Redding. The signing will be announced pending a physical, perhaps today or tomorrow. Redding, 30, was 10-11 with a 4.95 ERA last season with Washington.

He’ll be slotted in as the fifth starter, but would move up to fourth if the Mets aren’t able to sign either Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez. He didn’t have a great record, but the Mets figure it should improve with their offense.

The signing gives the Mets depth in the rotation and allows another year of development for Jon Niese and Robert Parnell.

The Mets aren’t done as they figure to come away with either Lowe or Perez to round out their rotation.

They are also talking with infielder Alex Cora.

Dec 31

Lowe not enough

Even should the Mets sign Derek Lowe, he won’t be enough for their pitching staff. Lowe would put the Mets’ rotation four deep, with a question for No. 5. I like Jon Niese’s potential, but I’m not ready to say with confidence 30 times, “here’s the ball, give me six strong.”

Are you?

With Lowe, I’d still make a run at Randy Wolf. Oliver Perez? Yeah, it would be nice to get him, but I’m thinking the Mets won’t spend that much.

Dec 19

And the weather outside is frightful ….

Spending the afternoon getting snowed in. What better time to talk about the Mets’ pitching?

I want the Mets to bring back Oliver Perez because I still believe there is an upside there, but I also want them to add somebody else, like a Randy Wolf, because I know there will be a need.

I can’t see giving the ball to Jon Niese 33 times and having everything be all right. The Mets have upgraded, but not to where they are a slam dunk to overtake the Phillies. I want them to get two starters, and worry about slotting in guys from the minor leagues later.

Dec 16

Here’s how the Mets should play Perez.

PEREZ: Time to give ultimatum.

PEREZ: Time to give ultimatum.

GM Omar Minaya puts the odds at 50/50 of the Mets re-signing Oliver Perez, this despite no other team linked to the erratic left-hander.

What we can expect from the Scott Boras client is to drag out the negotiations in the hope of driving up the price. Long and painful, just the way it is when the tgeĀ  The Mets displayed patience last year and Johan Santana came back to them. And, because the Mets controlled the closer market, they were able to get Francisco Rodriguez on their terms.

It won’t be that easy with Perez. If Minaya’s odds are accurate, the Mets need to go in another direction, and right now, needing a left-hander, that means Randy Wolf.

Wolf, the former Phillie, has nibbles from Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco. At $3.7 million last year with a 12-12 record, somebody will snap him up.

If you’re think 12-12 is no great shakes, remember Perez, for all his stuff, is 55-60 lifetime.

The Mets should pursue Wolf hard and make sure Perez understands that situation. I’d give Perez my best offer now and tell him the clock is ticking with a deadline. After the deadline, the offer is off the table and could go down.

Should the Mets sign both? Why not? They have two spots to fill and Jon Niese is no guarantee.