Five Starting Pitchers the Mets Could Trade For to Replace Dillon Gee


The good news is that Dillon Gee will soon be released from the hospital. The bad news is that the treatment to prevent future blood clots could knock him out for the rest of 2012. Gee’s surprising diagnosis is not only a blow to the Mets rotation, but also to what was turning out to be a very promising season from the 26 year-old starting pitcher. The righty owns a 4.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 3.34 K/BB in 109.6 IP to-date.  His 3.50 xFIP and perfectly balanced .301 BABIP also sheds light on how “real” Dillon Gee’s season has been. Unless you’re on the “promote Matt Harvey” bandwagon, it appears as though the short-term replacement for Gee is one of Miguel Batista or Jeremy Hefner. Neither pitcher inspires much confidence in the average fan–especially in place of Gee–so perhaps the Mets must look outside the organization for a decent, albeit “cheap,” option.

Joe Blanton: The Phillies? Making a deal with the Mets? At the deadline? Once you get over how impossible this situation would have been over the past few seasons, one must realize that the Phillies are 14 games out of first place, and the former Champs have even been rumored to be dangling ace Cole Hamels. Assuming they look to deal Hamels, suffice to say that prying a guy like Joe Blanton wouldn’t be arduous. The big right-hander has seemingly posted his third consecutive mediocre season in 2012, hurling a lofty 4.98 ERA. On the contrary, however, his 3.44 xFIP, 1.27 WHIP, and 5.93 K/BB all indicate that Blanton has been extremely unlucky this season and that there’s a better Blanton inside that big marshmallow of a man. Sure, his 16.7% HR/FB certainly doesn’t help him, but if homeruns are truly his main issue, perhaps leaving the derby-friendly Citizens Park would help curb his gopheritis, and restore his status as a productive player. Since the 31 year-old is owed another $4.25 million this season, the Phillies could be motivated to shed his salary. Even though the Mets are historically a huge rival, it’s doubtful a few months of Joe Blanton will really ride the Mets to the World Series.

Jake Arrieta: For the first time since Cal Ripken Jr. took the field, the Baltimore Orioles are actually playing competitive baseball. The team is five games over .500, and trailing the Yankees by seven games for first place. But with a rotation headed by the likes of Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen, it seems as though the last thing the Orioles need to do is trade a starting pitcher. However, Jake Arrieta, despite being just 26, isn’t helping the Orioles cause. In 101.3 innings this season, the righty has pitched to the tune of 6.13 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 2.87 K/BB. Arrieta has been so bad, on the surface, that the Orioles felt compelled to send the youngster to Triple-A, where he currently resides. The disparity between Arrieta’s surface and peripheral stats are pretty significant, but there is some reason behind it. For starters, the young pitcher has been hit very hard this year, posting a .324 BABIP (vs. career .294 rate) and a .384 BABIP with runners in scoring position, and hasn’t been stranding nearly enough baserunners (his 58% LOB% is dead last among all starting pitchers in baseball). Also, despite an improved HR/9 rate (from 1.58 to 1.15), that’s still 13 homeruns in just 101.3 innings. It seems as though Arrieta needs to find a little luck and perhaps some new scenery to achieve the success his plus fastball and curveball suggest he should already have.

Jerome Williams: Jerome Williams was once a top pitching prospect in the San Francisco Giants system, but after 2005, the big righty fizzled out of the big leagues. In fact, before 2011, Williams had not pitched a lick in the Majors since 2007 (30 forgettable innings with the Nationals). It was almost comical when the Los Angeles Angels recalled Williams from Triple-A last season, but Williams had the last laugh. The former prospect surprised critics with 4 Wins, a 3.68 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 1.86 K/BB over 44 IP. Certainly not the most dominating statistics, but for journeyman-turned-fifth-starter, it was pretty good. Williams was handed a rotation gig to start 2012, and has done solid so far, hurling a 4.46 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 2.15 K/BB in 82.6 IP, before recently hitting the disabled list with a “exercise-induced asthma attack.” His 4.01 xFIP suggests he’s still a 4+ ERA pitcher, but at the tail end of a rotation, that’s not unexpected. The real catch here is whether the Angels would actually be willing to deal Williams, who is slated to return after the All-Star break. Seeing as the Angels are vying for the playoffs, it doesn’t make much sense for the team, despite already having Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, and Ervin Santana, to create an unnecessary void in their rotation. That said, if the Angels were to deal for another elite pitcher, say Cole Hamels for instance, Jerome Williams would immediately become expendable.

J.A. Happ: Happ is perhaps best known for only pitching well for the Phillies, and thus enabling the team to package him for ace Roy Oswalt in a complete steal of a trade (unless you count Anthony Gose, who is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays). In his first two full-seasons for the Astros, Happ has combined for a 5.27 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 1.88 K/BB. Despite the almost-criminal surface stats, the 29 year-old has actually been decent in 2012, showing an improved K/9 (from 7.71 to 8.63), BB/9 (from 4.78 to 3.49), groundball rate (from 33.0% to 46.2%), and even his xFIP is a svelt 3.98. If not for his career-high 15.5% HR/FB, Happ might be enjoying a good surface year in 2012. With most of the trade focus on Wandy Rodriguez, interest in Happ might catch the Astros by surprise. And hey, even with Happ’s ugly surface stats, he’s still a better option than Miguel Batista or Jeremy Hefner.

Bartolo Colon: Colon’s march back to the Majors has been an interesting journey, as the portly right-hander only hurled 257 innings from 2006 to 2009, and even sat out the entire 2010 season; all due to a smorgasbord of arm injuries. But after taking part in a new surgical procedure (receiving transplants of stem cells to the damaged tissue areas), Colon went from semi-retired to a strong comeback player-of-the-year candidate (he unfairly got edged out by Jacoby Ellsbury). In fact, during the first half of 2011, Colon’s name was even dropped into the Cy Young Award race after pitching to the tune of a 3.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 3.59 K/BB for the New York Yankees. If not for his comparatively mediocre 4.96 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 3.11 K/BB in the second half, it’s possible the righty would have received more than the one-year, $2 million offer he signed with the Oakland Athletics. So far in 2012, Colon has been a respectable mishmash of his two 2011 halves, posting a 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 3.70 K/BB in 104.3 IP for the A’s this year. While the veteran certainly hasn’t been dominant in 2012 (from 7.39 K/9 in 2011 to 5.43 K/9 this season), Colon has boasted his best career control (1.47 BB/9), a solid groundball rate (43.6%), and very consistent peripherals to boot (.292 BABIP and 4.18 xFIP). Seeing as Colon is 39 years-old–and not an ace by any stretch of the imagination–even Billy Beane couldn’t demand much in return, especially from his mentor.