Mets miss out on a Marquis move

I haven’t been as upset as some Mets fans were when John Lackey signed with the Red Sox (I can understand their reluctance at the fifth year) or even when the Phillies got Roy Halladay, mainly because they did have to give up Cliff Lee. And for the most part, I’m OK with Jason Bay and Bengie Molina taking their sweet time to decide (or, probably, hope for a better deal or extra year, which they’d best NOT give to a 35-year-old catcher).

But this, of all things, bothers me: Jason Marquis is going to sign with the Nationals. I realize that the Mets need several things, and a left fielder, a catcher and power — which Bay and Molina bring — are at the top of the list, but so is a starting pitcher, or two. A No. 2 starter would’ve been nice, and that could’ve been Lackey, but in lieu of the big-ticket right-hander, the Mets were also looking at several lower-tier pitchers, and now two of them — Marquis and Randy Wolf — have signed on elsewhere.

I preferred Marquis to Joel Piniero for several reasons: he’s pitched well and won when not coached by Dave Duncan, he put up very good numbers in Coors Field (imagine what he’d do in Citi Field — wait, we’ll find out several times in 2010), and he isn’t demanding four years at $10 million per. And I thought the fact that he’s a Mets fan from Staten Island (and still lives there in the offseason) was a nice touch.

So I’m sad to see the Mets miss out, perhaps without even making him an offer. As illogical as it sounds, I might even be more upset than the Phillies getting Halladay, because I never thought the Mets had a serious shot at Halladay.

The Mets claim that there are no budget restrictions, but the facts remain that they made two known offers two weeks ago and their offseason acquisitions amount to two backup catchers, a re-signed shortstop and reliever, and an import from Japan who signed because two former teammates said the Mets were a good place for Japanese players (but one of them wasn’t Kaz Matsui).

The Marquis deal boils down to this: Omar Minaya had better make a move, soon. Christmas may be too late. The Mets are going to start losing out on more and more options to fill their needs, the fans’ level of frustration is going to grow (and it won’t help season-ticket renewals) and then they’re going to be left with another round of Spring Training tryouts for the fifth-starter spot involving the likes of Tim Redding.

Yeah, Pedro Martinez is still an option, but he’s a risk/reward signing, as is Ben Sheets, for the same money Marquis got — and he’s more of a sure thing at this point.


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