By Mike Steffanos
We haven't even started intersquad games yet and we're bombarded with one article after another filled with dire thoughts on the Mets pitching. Pedro's toe, Glavine's age, Trachsel's back, Heilman's inexperience, and Victor being Victor are all causing some of us to go into panic attacks. My Mom, who's a big-time Mets fan and champion pessimist, is not allowed to listen to sports talk radio or read the sports columnists. Just in case she cheats, I've taken the precaution of removing all sharp objects from her kitchen.
If being a Mets fan for any length of time teaches us anything, it's that things can go wrong and often do. Sometimes I think we've all learned that lesson too well. A Phillies fan can even take joy at our discomfort. Well, let's not begrudge them any small happiness they can manage from baseball this year -- remember that Flash Gordon is their closer.
I've spent enough words over the past week stating why I am optimistic about the Mets pitching this year. For those of you that are convinced that there can be nothing worse than having Omar Minaya running the team, I have two words for you, to prove that things could indeed be worse: Isiah Thomas.
Still not convinced? Two more, then: James Dolan.
Mets.com: Blah, blah, blah
MLB.com Baseball Perspectives columnist Mike Bauman looks at the Mets and touches all of the clichés that we've all done to death. To wit:
Now, the 2006 Mets will lack for neither star power nor lofty expectations. The issue with them will be the basic one, the one that dwarfs all the others: Will the quality and the depth of their starting pitching be sufficient to make them a postseason team?
Bauman is an excellent writer, but this stuff is old hat by now. Some Mets fans seem to enjoy a pessimistic wallow in the mudhole of pitching questions Omar's huge gamble with Seo and Benson has created. If you're one of them, this column is for you.
AP: Where's Pedro?
Pedro Martinez was not in camp today, given permission to take a day off for personal reasons. Several pitchers did work today, and according to Willie Randolph, Victor Zambrano looked good:
I thought Victor got the ball down really nice. I just think he looks totally different than he was last year. It looks like he's looser, freer, and balls are coming out of his hand real well.
Laugh if you want, but if the Mets can get Zambrano to pitch as well as he did in May and June last year for a whole season, there starting pitching situation looks a lot less scary. There is also a note at the end of this article that Jorge Julio, delayed by visa problems, should be in camp tomorrow.
Mets Inside Pitch (Paid subscription required): John Maine
Bryan Hoch interviews new Mets pitcher John Maine, who explains to Hoch the key to pitching success for the young right-hander:
My whole thing is setting up people with the fastball, and working off that. If I don't locate with my fastball, it's going to be a tough day for me. It shows when I start walking guys and getting behind guys. That's when I get hurt.
Maine throws a curveball, but describes it himself as a "show-me" pitch that he can't control. He is a tall pitcher, and is said to have problems with his mechanics. For all of that, he was a top 100 prospect until this year, when a lot of experts turned on him do to struggles at the major-league level, and to a lesser extent in AAA. If there is one thing Rick Peterson does do well it is to help a guy with his mechanics. I'm interested in seeing what Maine becomes.
Also on Mets Inside Pitch (Paid subscription required): Brian Bannister Profile
Patrick Teale and Bryan Hoch profile Mets top surviving pitching prospect Brian Bannister. Here is a sample of what they have to say:
Bannister is an extremely intelligent pitcher on the mound. He has a plan for every batter that steps into the box and he mixes up his pitches with the best of them. With a better than three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio, Bannister is a control pitcher. Now armed with a tremendous cut-fastball, Bannister is not afraid to let hitters make contact and allow his defense behind him to make the plays. He owns a plus curveball and when it is on, it is truly devastating. Whenever you see Bannister's box scores and if there's a high number of strikeouts, that means his curveball was working well for him that night. The addition of his cut-fastball has allowed him to have another weapon on the night's his curveball isn't as effective, which is a reason for the breakout year in 2005. With a professional demeanor on the mound, Bannister has a stoic disposition and is unflappable in pressure situations.
A quick note about Mets Inside Pitch (which is part of Scout.com, which is now owned by Fox Sports): If you are interested in finding out more about Mets prospects, this is the place to go. (Flushings Future was a very good site, but they've gone away. Despite hearing that they are coming back this spring, their domain name has expired -- not a good sign.) You have to have a paid subscription to read most of the content, but they'll let you have a 7 day free trial to decide if they are for you. Definitely worth a look. My one complaint about them is they are somewhat inconsistent with updates during the year.
Daily News: Gary Cohen
Andrew Marchand has a "5 Questions" piece on Gary Cohen. A little on the fluffy side, but worth a look.
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