Last week I discussed all the options the Mets had or could opt to acquire via free agency to replace Beltran on a temporary basis. I went into that blog thinking they would probably have to seek an improvement on Angel Pagan, but upon further analysis realized that while best suited to being a fourth outfielder, he plays decent defense and does enough offensively to justify getting the nod to hold the centerfield position for a month or so while also noting that there were outfielders who did not have jobs and could be signed on the cheap.
So of course as you know the Mets decided that Angel Pagan was not the guy or at least needed a veteran back-up, so they were willing to add at over one million dollars per season, Gary Matthews Jr. to the roster. Matthews of course has been in rapid decline – his strikeout rates going up each of the past four seasons while his isolated power has done the reverse trend over the same period. What does that say to you? Slow bat. So the Mets are receiving a post-prime player, who barely had one at that, giving him a million/year and gave the Angels a reliever in Brian Stokes to boot. Stokes has posted sub 4.00 ERAs the past two seasons and was somewhat of a sleeper headed into 2009 after posting a 7.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 after developing secondary pitches to compliment his mid-nineties fastball. Instead Stokes was plagued by inconsistency and though he flashed those secondary pitches on occasion, was unable to command them, posting a 4.9 BB/9 and 5.8 K/9. Those types of numbers indicate a player who did not deserve the sub 4.00 ERA as his 5+ FIP would indicate, but still he is at least a pitcher with upside which is more than be said for the likes of the 35-year old Matthews.
Enough Met-fan venting. Let's move on to the signing of Joel Pineiro by the Angels. This is a move that when 2010 is in the books may have been better if they had retained Chone Figgins to play third base to form a strong left side with Eric Aybar, but the Angels must have some faith in their infield defense to have decided to add this highly defense-dependent pitcher to their roster. Pineiro's ERA was actually close to his FIP based on his ability to throw strikes – 1.1 BB/9 and to throw ground balls over 60|PERCENT| of the time. His ERA could have been much worse considering he had a sub 70|PERCENT| left-on base rate. Moving to the Angels could help in the case of the latter issue with a strong bullpen, but the big question is his ability to repeat what he did. After all it was the first time in his career he ever achieved it and he that breakout came at thirty years of age. Yes his BB/9 was excellent in 2008 at a 2.1, but he only allowed ground balls 49|PERCENT| of the time. Both seasons he had a sub 5.0 K/9, but in 2008 he had an ERA over 5.00, though it too was heavily impact by a 69|PERCENT| left on base percentage. So his ability to command his pitches, as is vitally important with all extreme ground-ball pitchers, needs to be maintained. Given one season of success, even if the skills displayed behind it for that one year were sound, makes him still high-risk to repeat it.