John Smoltz had an intriguing 2009: Left the Braves, ripped Frank Wren, signed with the Red Sox, got cut in August, signed with the Cardinals, did a bit better, pitched two relief innings in postseason as the team got swept, filed for free agency. His final numbers for the season: Two clubs, three victories, eight losses, an ERA of 6.35.
We Atlantans monitored this mostly from afar. Smoltz didn’t pitch against the Braves. (Though he did manage to rip his former employer for its treatment of Tom Glavine.) But if reports from New York are correct, Smoltz would be given ample opportunity to exert the Smoltzian wrath firsthand. Because the Braves play the Mets 18 times in 2010.
Yes, the Mets. According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, “the Mets have been particularly active in dialogue with the 42-year-old Smoltz’s reps and would use him as a starter.”And two of the team’s other presumed pitching targets were lost Tuesday, when Ben Sheets signed with Oakland and Jon Garland with San Diego.
Writes Mike Puma of the New York Post: “That leaves John Smoltz as perhaps the last man standing if the Mets intend to address their rotation through the free-agent market. A club insider yesterday indicated GM Omar Minaya has been in contact with Smoltz, but the Mets will only sign the 42-year-old right-hander if they can do it cheaply.”
The Smoltz speculation isn’t exactly music to all ears. Here, from Will Leitch’s blog for New York magazine, is a sobering assessment:
“Omar Minaya and Co. think Smoltz is a legitimate, cost-efficient option. Smoltz struggled with the Red Sox last year, but was adequate with the Cardinals late in the season. He had been wanting to return to St. Louis, but found the Cardinals tight with the purse strings themselves after signing Matt Holliday. To make sure you have that chain right: Ben Sheets is too expensive for the Mets but not the A’s, and John Smoltz is too expensive for the Cardinals but not the Mets. Strange things happen in free agency, come late January.
“That said: When it comes to Smoltz, you have to wonder what either side is seeing in each other. This late in his career, Smoltz would ideally pitch for a contender, which — no offense, Mets — is absolutely not what they are right now. And the Mets would seem more ideally suited for low-risk, high-reward types like Sheets: At 42, there’s a lid on what Smoltz can achieve, even in a park like Citi Field where he might thrive. Smoltz is a complementary piece right now. The Mets need more than complementary pieces.
“That said, the Mets, if they sign Smoltz, can comfort themselves by knowing that two of the three members of the Braves’ great triumvirate pitched in Flushing at the end of their careers. Because no one will ever forget Tom Glavine’s time here, no matter how hard they might try.”
And here, from Dave on the Mets Lifer blog, is an even more plaintive cry:
“Stay away from Smoltz. Have we learned nothing from the Tom Glavine experiment? Or Julio Franco? All Braves players from the late 90’s to early 2000’s are pure Kryptonite. They’re a plague. A curse. A voodoo spell on New York baseball. Nothing good can come from having them on the Mets.”
Nothing good? I think not. Why, the renewed partnership of Smoltz and his little buddy Jeff Francoeur would do wonders for the New York economy. Think of all the money waiting to be banked in greens fees.