I guess the Mets figured that if all the cool kids were doing it, they might as well join in all the fun. Now, Shaun Marcum is no outfielder. And he's not even a reliever. So the first major league free agent that the Mets sign (making them the last team to do so this winter) doesn't address their two most significant needs. But in a vacuum, this isn't a bad signing at all. When healthy (and he does have to pass a physical before this one year deal goes into effect), Marcum has shown that he could perform at an above average level. From a three year period between 2008-11, which is recent, Marcum is 35-22 with a WHIP of 1.15 and a 3.54 ERA. He also had 7.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, which isn't so bad. He gave up 1.1 HR/9, which figures to go down a little bit at Citi Field.
The problem with Marcum is that he's topped 200 innings only once in his career, and he missed some time last season with a elbow tightness and a calf injury. But this is a negative that might work out in the end. Worst case scenario is Marcum pitching until June and then falling off the boat, which would open the way for Zack Wheeler to join the club anyway providing that Wheeler's ready. But now at least the pressure isn't on Wheeler to make the club from jump this season. We just have to hold our breath (which we should be used to by now) that either Marcum or Johan Santana stay healthy until the all-star break. If both stay healthy, great. If one stays healthy, it doesn't have to be the worst thing in the world. If neither stays healthy ... well, typical Met luck.
If Wheeler gets hurt we jump out windows in high floors.
One weird thing that comes out of this Marcum contract: He is obviously here to fill the spot vacated by R.A. Dickey. So when I looked at Marcum's Baseball Reference page, he was rated 647 in their fan rater bar. Who was 648? That's right, R.A. Dickey. Very weird. (And it should be noted that Dickey dropped to 649 in favor of a guy named Denny Galehouse ... whose relatives obviously felt it necessary to bump him up. (Galehouse, sadly, isn't available to sign with the Mets.)
Now the other news comes from Atlanta, where they have pulled the trigger on the Justin Upton deal for three prospects not named Teheran. If nothing else, this will most likely speed up the pursuit of Michael Bourn among teams that missed out on Justin, which means that the powers at Major League Baseball had better speed up their ruling on the 11th pick and its possible protection, and the Mets had better remember the combination to the safe that holds the secret family fortune.