The Mets are hanging out in Port St. Lucie at their voluntary minicamp this week, and if you want to know just how voluntary it is, the best position player there is Daniel Murphy. That’s awfully voluntary. Anyway, the minicamp is really an excuse for the Mets “brain trust” to figure out which holes to fill. Right now, in addition to, of course, everything else, the most pressing concerns are in the battery: The Mets need to amp up their rotation, and they need to come up with another catcher. The former concern is more urgent, and considering Ben Sheets is becoming too expensive, the Mets’ roaming eye is focusing on … John Smoltz.
Putting aside the quite legitimate concern that the Mets feel Ben Sheets is so pricey that he’ll be signed away by the A’s, 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.