When Andy Pettitte went down Sunday with a strained groin, there were as many moans and groans in Queens as there were in the Bronx.
Pettitte is expected to miss up to five weeks with his injury. And while the Yankees have publicly stated that they will replace him in the rotation with Sergio Mitre, no one is buying it; at least not in MLB circles I know of.
With the recent problems created by the ineffectiveness of AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain, the plan to limit the innings of Phil Hughes and now the loss of Andy Pettitte's services, the Yankees have instantly become the number one team to deal with if you are trying to move a pitcher.
Why are they the number one team? Because they have the wherewithal to pay the inheriting contract of Roy Oswalt if they want to and the prospects and players to exchange that the Cubs, Astros and Diamondbacks want for Ted Lilly, Brett, Myers, or Dan Haren.
For the most part, the Yankees have the luxury of choosing what pitcher they want. Yesterday Blake Kearny spoke about Dan Haren's fit for the Yankees. But the Yankees options are practically limitless as they could just as easily go after Roy Oswalt, Brett Myers, Ted Lilly, or anyone else you can think of ...........
Just 6.55 miles from Yankee Stadium down the road at Citi Field, the Mets felt the tug of Andy Pettite's groin. On Sunday morning, the Mets appeared to be the most likely acquirer of Ted Lilly's services, but by the afternoon, with Pettite's injury that all changed. Now that the Yankees are in the mix, that's no longer the case for Lilly or any of the other potential pitchers likely to be moved.
The Mets are now left in the position where they will have to either wait to see who the Yankees get and then go after who is left, or over pay to get Lilly or one of the others. The Cubs, Astros, and Diamondbacks can all use the Yankees to drive up the price on their guys since they know the Yankees will have to do something.
In summary, if the Mets thought that they were previously going to get Ted Lilly for Jenry Mejia and Bobby Parnell, they had better plan to swap Jon Niese for Parnell or upgrade the offer in some other fashion if they want to get the deal done now. The Cubs know that the Yankees will offer something better and the Mets will be forced to pay.
If it's Roy Oswalt the Mets covet, the Astros can now play it as the Yankees are interested too (whether they are or aren't) and the Mets know that they can't mess around with asking for the Astros to pick up any of Oswalt's hefty contract because the Yankees can simply absorb it if they want him without any recognizable hit to their bottom line.
With Mike Pelfrey looking like he's about to spontaneously combust, the pressure on the Mets to make a move now. Last night against the Diamondbacks was the fourth start in a row where Pelfrey couldn't get through the 5th inning. In fact, he couldn't get through the 2nd inning and barley got through the 1st! It took Pelfrey 51 pitches to through the first inning and 74 pitches to get through 1.1 innings where he had to exit. Combine that with leaving the Mets in a 0-6 hole to start the game, and the Mets had no shot.
To make matters worse, as Pelfrey implodes before the Mets eyes, Oliver Perez has forced his way back on the team by saying that he no longer wants to rehab. The rehab was to last up to 30 days or however the MLB player wants it, and yesterday Perez said no more. The Mets have no choice than to put him on the roster or release him and eat his contract (which they aren't going to do.)
The Mets pitching woes couldn't come at a worse time as having to wait in line behind the Yankees for a pitcher is not an enviable position to be in. Had they acted swiftly like the Rangers and already done something, this could have been avoided. For now, the Mets are hoping that AJ Burnett pitches lights out in his next start, Joba Chamberlain looks like he did in '08 the next time out, Phil Hughes starts leaving games up 10-2 in the 5th and Sergio Mitre throws a gem in his first two fill in starts. Maybe, maybe just then, the Yankees will not affect the Mets ability to add a quality pitcher down the stretch. - Keith A. Baker
Keith is a sports agent in Stamford, Connecticut. His goal is to offer a unique insight to the world of sports. Comments in his columns are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect the views and opinions of his firm or his clients.
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