October 31, 2006

Olney Says: Marlins Should Trade Willis, Mets Shouldn't Rely On Pedro

In his blog today at ESPN.com, Buster Olney says that the time is right for the Marlins to trade Dontrelle Willis, and the Mets shouldn't rely on Martinez next year.

On Martinez:
10. The Mets should plan for the 2007 season around the assumption that Pedro Martinez will not pitch next yearThey fell into the trap of counting on him for the postseason this year, but now that he's had major shoulder surgery, they should assume he won't be ready next year. The word is that he's ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, but the Mets shouldn't listen to any of that. They should go about the business of constructing a decent rotation behind Tom Glavine, by offering Lastings Milledge and others to the Marlins for Dontrelle Willis, by making an aggressive bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka, by having a decent fallback plan in the free-agent market (Jeff Suppan?).

If Pedro comes back in July and is ready to make an impact, he could be, in effect, the best acquisition any team makes before the deadline. But very few pitchers come back quickly from the type of surgery Martinez had, and his brother, Ramon -- who threw with the same kind of high-torque motion as Pedro -- never came back.

On Willis:
1. The Marlins should trade Dontrelle Willis this winterThere is so little pitching available this winter that if the Marlins dangled Willis, there would be a robust trade market for him. Willis turns 25 this winter, he's left-handed, he has a World Series ring. The Marlins could get the kind of top outfield prospect that they need if they agreed to deal Willis.
But if Florida keeps Willis, whose salary could be in the area of $8 million next season after he goes through arbitration, and he has a season similar to what he posted last year -- a decent-but-not-great 12-12, 3.87 ERA -- his trade value will drop, as his salary rises, as he gets closer to free agency.

There are questions about how long Willis can maintain his complicated delivery, and whether he'll stay healthy. And Florida has enough depth in its rotation (Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco) to trade Willis now and still be competitive next year.
His value will never be higher than it is right now, and the Marlins should take advantage of that.

Nothing ground-breaking here, as we have already said that it makes sense for the Marlins to trade Willis to the Mets for Milledge, and that we can't rely on Pedro next year. However, we STILL believe that Pedro will come back to us, healthier then he's been, and unlike brother Ramon, he'll resume his hall-of-fame career by the end of next summer!

To read Olney's column, click here.

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