Remember a few weeks ago when there were all those rumors swirling around about the Mets going after an ace pitcher like Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, or Roy Oswalt?  Well, those times have changed.  The thing about being a New York franchise is everyone expects you to have the funds to pick up star players.  The Knicks, and now the Nets, have oodles of money, the Yankees have players that earn as much as some teams’ entire starting lineup.  But, the Mets are broke. 

It’s an unfortunate realization.  Bernie Madoff destroyed the Mets. 

The Wilpons, who own the Mets, reportedly lost upwards of 700 million dollars in the infamous Madoff pyramid scheme (and we thought Oliver Perez was a bad investment!)

And things have gone from bad to worse.  Cliff Lee is gone, and it’s unlikely the Mets will fork over the kind of dough and prospects required to get Oswalt or Haren.  The current word on the street is the Mets are taking a long, hard look at Jake Westbrook.  If you haven’t heard of Westbrook, it’s because he’s not that good. He is sporting a 6-5 record and 4.67 ERA on the Cleveland Indians.

Making a trade for Westbrook would be a tragic mistake for the Mets.  The Indians are thrilled about the prospect, demanding only a single prospect in return, and not even a high-level prospect.  Of course they’re thrilled, they’d get to unload a pitcher they’re paying 11 million a year and who’ll be lucky to finish the season with a positive win-loss record. 

It’s like we got tired of Ollie Perez, so we’re going out and finding another overpaid, under performing starter.  If we’re trying to make a deal with Cleveland, at least go after Fausto Carmona. 

The point of going after a front-line pitcher wasn’t just that they’ll be better than the Jake Westbrook’s of the world (although that’s important too), but that it would free up some players to help the bullpen. 

If we got someone who could pitch in the 2-3 slot alongside the struggling Mike Pelfrey, then we can slide Hisanori Takahashi back into the bullpen. The bullpen has been in disarray and have not been aided by the fact that two of the past three starters failed to make it past the second inning. 

There’s no point in picking someone up to pitch in the 4-5 spots.  Firstly, Takahashi is probably just as productive as them as a starter, so we’re not going to see any benefit there.  Also, if all the Mets want is a mediocre starter they can wait for Maine or Perez (ummm…maybe not Perez) to come off the DL and save themselves a few million dollars.

We don’t just need a starting pitcher, we need a good starting pitcher.  If the organization is blind to that fact and starts pursuing anyone to try and plug the hole it could backfire horrendously.  If there really is no hope for a solid starter in the trade market, such as Carmona or Ted Lilly, then the Mets shouldn’t rush to pick up the garbage left behind by other teams. 

If you’re low on funds, you have to be wise with what you have.  Don’t waste an eight digit salary on a pitcher we don’t want, we’ve made that mistake.   Go after a second basemen, like Kelly Johnson, or some bullpen relief.  There’s an abundance of relief pitchers on the market, which means we could pick up a good eighth inning set-up man (and potential closer if K-Rod’s issues continue) for a good bargain. 

But, really, it’s time for the Wilpons to decide if they have what it takes to own the Mets.  If they’re not willing to spend money on things the team needs, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about selling the franchise, another rumor that’s been floating around. 

I sincerely hope that neither the Westbrook nor Wilpons selling the team rumors are true.  But it’s time for the Mets to make a decision whether they really want to catch the Braves and give themselves a shot at the postseason or fade ignominiously into third place. 

Any thoughts? Comments?

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