Potential Off-Season Targets: Brad Lidge

By Unknown author

With the 2011 season over, the old saying, “There’s always next season,” instantly becomes all Mets fan’s credo. But before we can think about riding the 7-train out to Flushing again, there is a whole off-season to project and pontificate about. Considering the amount of holes the Mets will have, this coming off-season holds a lot of importance.

In this new on-going series, Rising Apple will analyze potential off-season targets for the New York Mets. Today’s target at-hand is free agent reliever, Brad Lidge.

If there is one team that nearly all Mets fans despise at this point in time, it is the Philadelphia Phillies.  Sure, the Atlanta Braves tormented the Amazins in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it’s awful having the Yankees right across town, but the Phillies with their recent string of National League East titles, 2007 improbable run to the playoffs and 2008 World Series win make them public enemy number one.  It goes without saying that as a result, any player who dons a Phils uniform is sure to be hated.  Well, how would Mets fans feel if Sandy Alderson swooped in and signed a former Philly to close for the Mets?  That’s right: the Mets 2012 closer could be Brad Lidge.

Lidge, who has been with the Phillies since the 2008 season, recently had his 2012 $12.5 million option declined by the team.  He also spent most of 2011 on the disabled list with elbow problems, but returned in late July and wound up tossing 19.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on 16 hits and 13 walks while fanning 23, recording one save.  His career numbers, however, provide a better picture of his abilities.

Now at age 34 (he will be 35 before next season begins), Lidge spent the first six years of his career in Houston before being traded to the Phillies.  Lidge owns a career 3.44 ERA (3.22 xFIP, 2.82 SIERA) and 1.273 WHIP with a 12.0 K/9,  4.2 BB/9 and 2.86 K/BB, while notching 223 saves in 266 chances.  His best year is a tossup between 2004 with the Astros and 2008 with the Phillies.  In ’04, the year in which he closed for the first time, Lidge pitched to a 1.90 ERA (2.07 xFIP, 1.48 SIERA) and 0.919 WHIP with a 14.9 K/9 and 5.23 K/BB, saving 29 games in 33 opportunities.  In 2008, the year in which the Phillies won the World Series, Lidge was a perfect 41-41 in save chances during the regular season (he added another seven during the postseason) to go along with a 1.95 ERA (3.01 xFIP, 2.88 SIERA), 1.226 WHIP, 11.9 K/9 and 2.63 K/BB.

It’s true that in recent years, Lidge has not been the dominant pitcher that he once was.  From 2009-11, Lidge’s K/9 and K/BB have dipped to 9.9 and 1.92, respectively, and his HR/9 of 1.2 is well above his career mark of 0.8.  In addition, the average velocity on Lidge’s fastball has dropped considerably, from 95.4 mph in 2007 to 88.9 in 2011 (it was 91.7 in 2010).  So why would the Mets have an interest in a pitcher whose skills have seemingly declined?

For one, Lidge shouldn’t be that expensive, given that he is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he spent time on the disabled list.  Given that logic, he should be willing to accept a one-year, incentive-laden deal to increase his value the following offseason.  Furthermore, the Mets can give him an opportunity to close, something that other teams (including the Phillies) might not be willing to do.  If the Mets could ink Lidge to a one year deal with a base salary of somewhere in the $3-4 million range, it would be worth the risk, assuming that the elbow problems are behind him.  While it might pain Mets fans to see the former Philly donning blue and orange, Lidge could prove useful as a one year stopgap while the Amazins develop a closer from within the organization.