Why Gee Makes More Sense Than Oswalt

Why Gee Makes More Sense Than Oswalt

Adding a 3-time All Star pitcher to a 74-win team is typically a sound move, but I was met with confusion this afternoon when reports indicated that the Mets have strong interest in acquiring LHP Roy Oswalt. Oswalt, entering his age 35 season, has many qualities that you would want in a starting pitcher: A tremendous strikeout rate (His 9.0 K/9 rate in 2012 was his highest since his rookie season, albeit through a small sample), a minuscule walk rate (1.7 BB/9 in 2012), and the kind of experience that would typically anoint him as being a leader of a staff. However, Oswalt’s strikeout and walk rates were deceptive in 2012 as he posted career worsts across the board: A 5.80 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.525 WHIP, and 1.68 HR/9 were all factors in a disappointing season for Oswalt. Despite the disappointing stats, Oswalt’s fWAR was still nearly 1 thanks to his sound work from the bullpen.

Should Oswalt be expected to bounce back in 2013? Absolutely. There’s no doubt that pitching in Arlington’s hitter-friendly ballpark contributed to career highs in HR/9, ERA, and WHIP. His .378 BABIP in 2012 compared to his .299 career mark suggest that he was unlucky and could benefit pitching in a new ballpark. It’s for these reasons that Oswalt should be considered as a piece for the New York Mets.

That said, Roy Oswalt simply doesn’t make sense for the New York Mets in 2013. The Mets have been a team in an unofficial rebuild since 2011 when Sandy Alderson came to the helm, and making a move like this would be a bit of a confusing step to take. The Mets’ starting rotation is one part of the team that hasn’t been called into question: Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Shaun Marcum, and Dillon Gee are penciled in for the rotation as Zach Wheeler, Jenry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Colin McHugh, and Jeremy Hefner serve as insurance. Inserting Roy Oswalt into the mix would likely bump Dillon Gee from the rotation (presumably to the long man role), a move that would make sense for a team on the brink of contending for the National League East crown, not a team fighting for a second Wild Card spot if all things swing the right way.

If the argument for signing Oswalt is because of Santana being injury prone, Oswalt is no less likely to avoid an injury. Oswalt has not started more than 25 games since 2010 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and with a smaller frame Oswalt is not likely to continue aging well. It’s not a slight against Oswalt so much as the facts that present themselves make it evident that if Santana were to be injured or traded, someone like Zach Wheeler should be given the opportunity over an older workhorse.

Oh, and don’t forget who’s being bumped out of the rotation if Roy Oswalt is signed. Dillon Gee would presumably be the odd man out, and although Gee’s health is far from stable, his results are far more predictable. Gee’s injury wasn’t one that happened while playing and until something is proven otherwise should be written off as a freak incident. Gee’s peripherals are far more consistent, albeit less spectacular than Oswalt’s. His 7.04 K/9 rate in 2012 was a career high thanks to his improved breaking pitches as he learned the league better. His 2.38 BB/9 also shriveled from 3.98 in 2011 to 2.38 in 2012, another encouraging sign for Gee heading into 2013. All the more, Gee actually suffered in 2012 as his BABIP was .30 points higher than his career averages, which can be partly attributed to the poor defense the Mets had in the outfield. Tentatively, Duda will be less of a liability in left and Nieuwenhuis and Baxter are league average, so it’s reasonable to believe that Gee could see that number shrink as well. The last factor is the money, which Oswalt will command much more of than Gee. While Oswalt could realistically be shipped to a contending team at the deadline if the Mets are far enough out of the playoff race, the Mets are in need of outfield help to the point where signing Oswalt to replace Gee in the rotation doesn’t make sense.

There is reason to believe that Gee could be a superior pitcher to Roy Oswalt in 2013. There is also reason to believe that given the right environment Oswalt could achieve a level of success in the major leagues as well. It just wouldn’t make much sense for him to do it in New York.