TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Mets have discussed free agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse and others internally, according to sources close to the Mets, and still may make a move to add starting pitching this spring.
Lohse remains the most attractive of a handful of starters who so far appear to have priced themselves out of business because he's only 29 and is coming off of a season in which he worked 192 innings and compiled a 4.62 ERA for Cincinnati and Philadelphia last season.
Among the other starters still unsigned: Jeff Weaver (31, 6.20 ERA for Seattle in '07), Freddy Garcia (32, coming off of shoulder surgery last August), Eric Milton (32, coming off of an injury-plagued year with Cincinnati) and David Wells (44, 157 innings pitched for San Diego and Los Angeles and a 5.12 ERA).
The Mets are said to be considering many options in the wake of acquiring ace Johan Santana, including beginning the season with Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez in the bullpen. The thinking there being that they could save him from wearing out by season's end if they limit his innings early, and maybe move him back into the rotation later in the year.
Among the other reasons the Mets continue to study free agent pitchers who are available: They're still not sure whether Mike Pelfrey (3-8, 5.57 ERA in 72 innings pitched last season) is seasoned enough for the big league rotation and though Pedro Martinez looks good this spring, he's no lock to stay healthy all season.
St. Louis is another club that could be in the market for pitching if Matt Clement's comeback lags. However, the Cardinals have indicated that their player payroll is maxed out. The Chicago Cubs also could be a player for Lohse or Weaver to add depth to a rotation that includes a couple of questions: One, whether Jason Marquis sticks all season and, two, whether Ryan Dempster's conversion from closer takes.
A couple of other notes:
-- The Florida Marlins have discussed adding oUtfielder Corey Patterson, a Scott Boras client like Lohse and Weaver, who remains unsigned. Cameron Maybin, one of the high-ceilinged prospects acquired from Detroit, is projected to start in center for the Marlins but there is some organizational concern that, at 20, and with only 49 big league at-bats, if he isn't ready, he could get buried. But it's more likely that the Marlins will go with Alejandro De Anza instead of Patterson. De Anza made the Marlins out of camp last spring but suffered a broken ankle after nine games and missed much of the rest of the season.
-- The Cubs-Baltimore Brian Roberts trade talks continue to simmer and the possibility remains that Roberts could be a Cub by opening day. Chicago scouts continue to track Roberts.
Likes: Gorgeous cover on the Pittsburgh media guide this year, an evening shot of PNC Park with lights reflecting off of the Allegheny River. ... Manny Sanguillen in camp, same winning smile. ... ELO's Mr. Blue Sky on the public address system before Friday's clash-of-Pennsylvania, Phillies-Pirates Grapefruit League game. ... This line from Alan Schwarz in a New York Times story on the Pirates: "... their roster's somnolence is marked by how their most recent signee, pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim, is a virtual narcoleptic." ... Mixon Fruit Farm in Bradenton, which has become a must-stop for lunch along the trails. The orange juice, as you might suspect, is out of this world, and so was the tropical milkshake featuring fresh oranges, pineapples and cherries.
Dislikes: Need more hours in the day. Even if we got an extra day this month thanks to leap year. Still not enough hours.
Sunblock day? We're getting there, with temps finally reaching the 70s. Still, it was in the 40s early Friday morning and a chilly breeze persisted for most of the morning. We can only hope that the horror of this "cold-weather" snap is behind us now.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"I got shackles on my wrists
Soon I'll slip 'em and be gone
Chain me in a box in your river
And I'll rise singin' this song
Trust none of what you hear
And less of what you see
This is what will be"
-- Bruce Springsteen, Magic