By Mike Steffanos
Mike Pelfrey has officially begun his New York Mets career, introduced in the Mets' minor league complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Mets.com: Welcome, Mike
Bryan Hoch reports on the press conference introducing first round pick Mike Pelfrey to the Mets faithful. It took a few months to make a deal, but Pelfrey himself never doubted it would get done:
I had faith in the Mets and I had faith in my advisors. I knew it could get done. Once you're assured of that, it's no big deal being patient.
Hoch reports that both GM Omar Minaya and former director of amateur scouting Russ Bove were very high on Pelfrey before the draft, and cites Minaya that the delay in signing was actually a good thing for Pelfrey, due to the high number of innings (139.2) he pitched for Wichita State in 2005.
The Mets will be patient with Pelfrey and start him in high-A ball in St. Lucie, although he will take his first spring training with the major league club. Regarding his future, Pelfrey can mouth a cliché as well as anyone:
My only concern is to go out and improve every day as a player. I'm positive the Mets will let me know when I'm ready.
Crash Davis would have been proud...
A good friend of mine used to say, "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while.
Also on Mets.com: Marty profiles the 'pen
Marty Noble offers part two of a series looking at the Mets position by position. This week it's the bullpen, where Noble offers the following on free agent pickup Billy Wagner:
...Call it a quick fix, done with intent of making the opponent's ninth inning into something short and sweet for the Mets. They had had their fill of ninth-inning suspense. They longed for dominance and assurance. And for a mere $43 million, they got it.According to Noble, there is one more move Omar Minaya would like to make for the bullpen:
More than any acquisition made during Minaya's 16 months in office, the acquisition of Wagner changes the Mets. Nothing undermines a team more than late-inning leads that morph into losses. There ought to be fewer in 2006 and beyond.
If Minaya has his way, Danys Baez still may become part of the equation. He hopes to obtain the Devil Rays closer -- probably in a three-club deal -- to pitch the eighth and give the seventh to Sanchez. Heilman would move to the rotation and an assignment he prefers, because dealing for Baez almost certainly will cost the Mets a starter, probably Kris Benson.
But if a trade can't be made, the Mets would be comfortable with the sequence as it exists now with Heilman and his changeup in place to handle the tough left-handed hitters. The need for a competent left-handed setup man seemingly would increase if Baez were acquired and Heilman were used as a starter. But if a left-handed reliever isn't available, the Mets will be happy to take their chances with Baez (41 saves last season), who certainly could close if Wagner needed a day off.
I understand the attraction of a seasoned guy like Baez, but again I repeat: I find it hard to justify giving up anything of value for a mediocre guy like Baez who come out and said he doesn't want to be a setup man, and will play out his option and sign somewhere else. Plus, your top 3 in the bullpen after your closer, Baez, Sanchez and Chad Bradford, all have markedly less success against lefties.
Also on Mets.com: Run Silent, Run Deep
Bryan Hoch profiles two submarine-style relief pitchers at the Mets mini-camp: RHP Chad Bradford and LHP Mike Venafro. Along with Steve Schmoll, who isn't at mini-camp, they give the Mets 3 sidearm pitchers competing for jobs in the Mets' bullpen. Hoch quotes manager Willie Randolph on his feelings about sidewinders:
I didn't care too much for those kind of guys [as a hitter]. They always seem to have the upper hand. I don't think there's too many right-handed hitters who like submariners.
It's the funk that gets 'em, Willie...
Also of interest in Hoch's story is some information about the "forgotten Met", reliever Heath Bell. As Hoch points out, Bell sat unused in the Mets' bullpen for 28 days in September. Driving home to Florida after the season, Bell put things into perspective. He tried to focus on what went right for him in 2005, and went to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic determined to fine-tune his split-fingered fastball, and use last year as motivation to succeed this year:
Trust me, I don't want to be anywhere else. I've been in this organization since 1998. Sometimes you have a better opportunity somewhere else, but I want to stay here and show everyone that I can win the job.
I look back at those 28 days and I think that helped me out the best. I think I might have a great career because of those 28 days. I can always look back and say, 'Hey, I did that.'
I know Bell had his ups and downs last year, but I was impressed with his fastball and his ability to bounce-back from adversity -- a prerequisite for a successful reliever. He needed another pitch, and diligently worked on it. I hope he gets the chance to prove to the team that he belongs on the major league club.
Shea Faithful: Interview with Pelfrey's college pitching coach
Pat Andriola from Shea Faithful has an interview with Mike Pelfrey's Wichita State pitching coach, Brent Kemnitz.