Please welcome our newest writer, Scott Gilroy!  Here Scott opines on the available pitching targets left for the Mets.

As most fans know,the Mets focus to this point in the offseason has been primarily on offense and relief pitching.

With the signing of Jason Bay and assuming the potential signing of Benji Molina, happening as slow as Molina runs the bases, the Mets have, at least, increased the team’s power, Beltran’s injury notwithstanding.

Despite these moves, it doesn’t appear the team has made any headway in winning the NL East. Fans of the Mets know that beyond Johan Santana the rest of the rotation is a crap-shoot.

Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jon Niese and the rest of the lot do not inspire confidence due to injury and/or plain old bad pitching. The top free agent pitchers are gone and most trade possibilities have dried up, Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo a possible exception.  It looks like free agency will be the Mets best chance to improve the rotation.

After looking at the current list of free agents, it appears the pickings are pretty slim.

The Mets need a solid #2 or good #3 starting pitcher. I removed the injured guys from consideration since the Mets can’t have that again. Then I filtered out the terrible and the truly untouchable. From the remaining group,i narrowed it down to three players: Jon Garland, Vincente Padilla and Joel Piniero.

My initial thought before looking deeper was to go with Vincente Padilla. Looking at Padilla’s second half stats, he had a 7.3 K/9  2.2 BB/9 and 3.3 CMD – most of this in his stint in L.A. While that finish and his performance in the playoffs made him tempting but after 2 1/2 crappy seasons before the renaissance and no major skill increase, as well as a propensity to drink and shoot himself, I was swayed away.

Joel Piniero was an interesting case due to the drastic change in success from 2008 to 2009. The tremendous increase in Piniero’s use of the two-seam fastball led to a 60% ground ball rate and a .48 HR/9!! While a repeat similar to his 2009 season is possible, I am not comfortable with a multi-year deal with Piniero after one season of success and no Dave Duncan around to keep him on track.

After looking deeper into Jon Garland, I was less than thrilled, but was impressed with the consistency he has shown. Also, I liked what I saw in Garland’s first exposure to the NL with the Dodgers.  He has increased his use of a two seamer and cutter which raised his FB rate 7% with a decrease in WHIP, which may play well at Citi Field.  With the consistency of Garland’s innings pitched, control and playing at Citi Field, I can see some potential upside which the Mets sorely need.  The Mets best choice from what is left on the free agent market is Garland. I can see Garland going in the range on 1 year/$ 7-8 million with an option or maybe a 2 year,$12 million deal if the Mets want to backload money. A solid edition to the rotation but still far from where the Mets need to be.