Just imagine this for a moment: your Mets GM Omar Minaya. Over the past two days, you have just completed two potentially franchise changing moves to shore up the bullpen by adding and Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz. However, upon waking up this morning, you hear that the arch rival Phillies have signed Raul Ibanez to form a potent middle of the order with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
This move should change the Mets entire off season plan from here on out. Knowing that the Phillies have three potent left handed hitters will change the how the Mets decide to shape their rotation and bullpen. Case in point:
-The Mets were considering dealing LHP Pedro Feliciano at one point in the off season, but now the Mets have to keep Feliciano to be their left handed specialist. Lefties have only hit .214 against Feliciano throughout his career and the Mets will need Feliciano to deliver in 2009 if they are going to compete with the Phillies.
-The Mets were talking about dealing LHP Scott Schoeneweis to the Cubs for Jason Marquis, who would be their 5th starter. However, with Ibanez on board, it would be ideal for the Mets to have two lefties on board to deal with the Phillies murder's row of lefties. If their going to trade Schoeneweis, they should make sure that they have a back up plan to bring another lefty on board (via trade or sign Joe Beimel/Will Ohman)
-And finally, the Mets are going to have to make a serious run at bringing back Oliver Perez. Omar Minaya recently determined that the Mets only had a "50/50" chance of bringing back Perez, but we'll see if that changes. I have never been fond of the idea of giving Perez the 5 years/$65 million bucks that he is after, but at this point, the Mets need him. Left handed hitters only hit .158 against Perez in 2008, which would make him an ideal pitcher to have against the left handed dominant Phillies. Again, a five year deal is too much for Perez, but they should be more aggressive with their negotiations. The Mets could also take a look at Odalis Perez or Randy Wolf as potential low cost options should Perez price the Mets out of contention.
It might seem foolish to change your off season plans because of one team, but the Mets have to be aware of what the Phillies are doing and organize their moves to best match up with their rival. Even though the Phillies hit left handed pitching pretty well (even the lefties), the Mets need to counter "Utley-Howard-Ibanez" with effective and competent left handed pitching because that is their best option for success. Having pitchers who are great at getting left handed hitters out is the best scenario available to the Mets right now.