Legendary ballscribe Paul Hagen has a story up on our main sports page about the potential of former Mets righthander John Maine joining the Phillies.
The two immediate questions:
1) Why would the Phillies want Maine?
2) Why would Maine want the Phillies?
The first question is easy to answer. A wise baseball man once said that you can never have too much pitching. Actually, every baseball man has once said that you can never have too much pitching. That's because it is true. Two years ago, the Phillies signed a rebound project named Rodrigo Lopez who ended up making four quality starts for a Phillies rotation that was missing righthander Brett Myers. Lopez, who started the year pitching at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, allowed eight earned runs in 23 1/3 innings in those four starts, and the Phillies went 4-0 during that stretch.
At one point in time, Maine was considered a legitimate prospect. In fact, Baseball America had him ranked at No. 54 prior to the 2004 season. When healthy, Maine has been a solid big league pitcher. In 2007, he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts for the Mets. He struck out 180 and walked 75 in 191 innings that season (I think we all remember how it ended for the Mets).
So if Maine is willing to accept a minor league deal with no immediate shot at the major leagues, and the Phillies think he has some potential to bounce back from shoulder surgery, why not take him in?
The second question -- why would Maine choose the Phillies? -- is a little more difficult to answer. Assuming he has other minor league offers, it's almost guaranteed that they would present a clearer path to the big leagues than the one that currently exists in Philadelphia.
Maybe he and Gary think that Joe Blanton will be traded, and that Maine would be able to compete with Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley for the fifth spot in the rotation. Maybe he views 2011 as a rebuilding season and he likes the situation he would be in at Lehigh Valley. There is no way to know for sure.
What we do know: as of today, the possibility of the Phillies signing one of their former rivals to a deal is not out of the question.