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Mets Should Try to Acquire Duke to Bolster Staff

By Jed Weisberger ~ December 31st, 2009. Filed under: Offseason Speculation.

With Jason Bay finally in the fold, the Mets need to make a move to bolster their starting staff.

Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Jon Niese are presently their top five. The club, in optimistic tones, feels this group could do the job in 2010.

Perhaps that’s the case, but the feeling is another hurler really needs to be added after the 2009 performances of Pelfrey (10-12, 5.03), Maine (7-6, 4.43), Perez (3-4, 6.82) and Niese (1-1, 4.21).

The free-agent market, with Joel Pineiro in the lead, is unimpressive.  One can take a chance on Ben Sheets, oft-injured, but maybe signing both Kelvim Escobar and Clint Everts is enough of a look in this direction.

That leaves a trade, and a starting pitcher I believe needs a change of scenery.  That hurler is Pirates lefty Zach Duke, whom I feels is worth the Mets going after.

Who could the Mets trade?  The Pirates are in need of a first baseman.  Could Dan Murphy or prospect Ike Davis be packaged with a pitcher like Niese and a lower-level prospect like pitcher Jeurys Familia, a righty who was 10-6, 2.69 with Class A Savannah of the Florida State League.

If the Mets don’t want to part with Davis, Murphy, Niese, and Familia should certainly get the job done. The Pirates like low-cost players and prospects back in trades.  As we also know, the club has no issue unloading veterans.

So let’s take a look at Duke, who burst onto the scene in 2005, going 8-2, 1.81 in 14 starts. The 26-year-old native of Clinton, Texas, seemed to be on his way to becoming the anchor of a young staff searching for such an individual.

Since then, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Duke, a straight-up type of guy to talk to, has gone 29-53 over the past four years.  Yet, don’t stamp the kid a loser. He’s got excellent stuff, but, as we all know, has played on some terrible teams with little or no direction.

Duke has also gone through more than a few managers and pitching coaches in his time in Pittsburgh. There have been changes in delivery, changes in patterns, moves to the bullpen, try this and try that.

Finally, in 2009, he went back to a lot of the things he was doing in 2005. The result was an 11-16, 4.06 record in 32 starts. There are some good numbers in there as well, like three complete games, a shutout, 213 innings pitched and a strikeout/walk ratio of 106-49.

His WHIP was 1.38. Yes, he gives up a lot of hits, but the talent and ability is there.  Except for 2007, he has pitched at least 185 innings in each of his four full seasons.

Having watched Duke over the past five years – I got to know him in spring training 2006 – I feel, with a better team and better consistent direction, he could certainly be a better No. 4 starter for the Mets than what is presently on the roster.

Hey, Omar Minaya, this kid in Pittsburgh is worth a shot.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

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1 Response to Mets Should Try to Acquire Duke to Bolster Staff

  1. Mark P

    I’m a Mets fan and would love to bolster a questionable pitching staff as much as anyone, especially in a non-hitters park, but I don’t think getting rid of all of our first basemen, including a top prospect is the wy to go. Murphy is worth a look and Davis isn’t ready for the show. And please, don’t even mention Carlos “Oh my aching whatever” Delgado who no one should believe would get us through a couple of months of sevice if he survives winter ball. I like Duke, but I’m sure that Pittsburgh also does, and they are surely hoping to be something other than a trading post year after year. What’s the solution? If I knew I’d be sitting in Manaya’s chair, but as so many say, we have to stop mortgaging our future. If we don’t run into the unprecedented injuries of 2009, things have a chance of being more competitive and the crop of pitchers after this season is pretty good! I say, let’s keep what we have (except Castillo if possible) and do some minor building and pray a lot.

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