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Grow Your Own

Mike SteffanosTuesday, February 28, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I link to a story in the New York Post below where Joel Sherman looks at who might provide depth for Mets rotation should a starter go down. We've covered this a lot, and I'm sure it will be a topic of discussion down the road. In yesterday's The Big Picture post, I discussed my hopes of a Mets farm system that actually produces some young relievers for the big club. With the focus on whether the Mets have enough starting pitching depth for the long haul, I would hope that the farm system could provide that, also.

Last season when Steve Trachsel went down with a bad back in spring training, the Mets felt compelled to deal for Kaz Ishii rather than go with Jae Seo or Aaron Heilman (what a difference a year makes). Ishii was fairly awful, but even in a best-case scenario nothing better than mediocrity could have been hoped for from this pitcher. After all, Ishii wasn't a kid with upside -- at 31 last year, he was what he was. It took a second injury to Kris Benson for the Mets to give Heilman that eye-opening last chance, and another injury to Ishii for Seo to get another chance.

Granted, going into last year neither Seo nor Heilman gave the Mets much reason to believe, but a quick glance at Ishii's record wasn't all that scintillating, either. My point here isn't to rehash what has already been kicked around ad nauseum about Seo and Ishii. What I would like to see is a willingness to give someone in the system a chance before we look to be rescued by second-raters from outside.

There is a belief that in New York there is no patience for the struggles of young players. This is true to a point, but in the case of injury I honestly believe most of us would rather see a kid from the system -- someone with upside and a chance to make a difference to the future of this franchise -- get some valuable major league innings over some retread who provides nothing but a stopgap. In some years this isn't possible, as there are no true prospects close to major-league ready. This year you have Brian Bannister and the recently acquired John Maine. Bannister is said to be major-league ready, and Maine pitched for the Orioles last season.

Granted, neither of these two has the upside of Mike Pelfrey, but both have a real chance to contribute on the major league level as 4 or 5 starters. If someone is needed to pitch a few games for the Mets in 2006, I'd rather see one of these guys given a chance before the Mets felt compelled to deal for another Ishii type.

Bergen Record: The Straw Man
Daryl Strawberry's arrival into camp for his one week stay has insured that he will be profiled and quoted all over the place. I enjoyed this quote from Steve Popper's story where Daryl talked about that wild and crazy mid-80s Mets team:

...we were all sick. We didn't care. It didn't make us no difference if we pointed fingers at each other. It was like, 'Okay, you're talking about me -- I'm going to go show you what I do on the field.' That's the kind of group of guys we had.

That was a crazy group of guys. I mean, they talk about the team in the '70s, the Oakland A's. We were totally dysfunctional. But you know what, those group of guys on that '86 team we had, we cared. We cared about each other. We cared about winning.

You know, to a lot of us who grew up in an Italian family, that doesn't sound dysfunctional at all...

Mets.com: Daryl and Lastings
Bryan Hoch has an intersting look at Daryl Strawberry mentoring Lastings Milledge. No one has a better understanding of the scrutiny Milledge is under than the Straw man, who went threw it himself.

New York Post: Pitching Depth
Joel Sherman pens a story featuring the battle for the bottom 2 rotation slots, and questioning whether the Mets have starting pitching depth.

Daily News: The Batting Order
Adam Rubin has a very interesting article on Willie Randolph's reasoning for his batting order decisions. Some highlights:

  • Beltran hitting third
    Willie: When I see Carlos in the big picture, he's a guy we've invested a lot in. He's going to hit wherever I put him. But I see him prototypically as a guy who is going to be in the meat of our order. [Willie doesn't completely rule out batting Beltran second.]

  • When Lo Duca doesn't play
    It is certain to thrill many fans that Willie might consider hitting Matsui second if he wins the second base job. Willie: If he stays healthy and shows a certain patience, he might be an ideal No. 2 hitter because he's a switch-hitter, he can run and he can bunt.

  • Where David Wright will hit
    Willie feels he didn't get enough credit for "protecting" Wright last season: No one really gave me credit for doing what I did. They just criticized me. There was a little method to my madness, if you will. This year is going to be the same thing. I feel confident he can handle it, but I still want to make sure going into the season that we don't just feel like, 'Okay, he had a great year last year, so, bam, he should be here.' I want to guard against that, because you still need to turn the page and get into the season and see how things look. Listen, David is a big boy. He proved a lot last year. But he needs to still grow and make adjustments.

I'm sure this will calm everyone down -- or not.

Daily News: Pedro uses a rubber
Adam Rubin cites manager Willie Randolph that, for the first time since last season, Pedro Martinez will attempt to pitch off the rubber today. The idea is for him to pitch a spring training game next week and then a middle round game for the Dominican team in the WBC.

Rubin reports that Lastings Milledge's parents have come down to be with their son during camp, setting up in an RV in the parking lot.

Rubin also reports that there is word from Dodgers camp that Jae Seo refuses to autograph anything that has a Mets logo on it, indicating some lingering bitterness towards his former team. Maybe he can get together with Doug Mientkiewicz and Anna Benson and form a club...

The Journal News: John Maine
John Delcos profiles John Maine, the young pitcher who the Mets acquired from the Orioles along with Jorge Julio. Delcos quotes Maine on what he hopes to learn this spring from Pedro and Tom Glavine:

It would be more about the mental aspect of the game. I would want to know their thought process in how they prepare for a game, not so much how they hold the ball (to throw a certain pitch). I would want to know how they prepare mentally.

I'm not bad at it, but I'm not great at it, either. Aside from their unbelievable stuff, their concentration is what sets them apart. They go about things in a businesslike way.

New York Times: The Glove Man
Ben Shpigel has a great story on Chris Woodward, focusing on all the gloves he needs for all the positions he plays.

More Mets Stories:
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Pro Sports Daily Mets

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