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Pedro's Shoe; Rolling the Dice with Lima

Mike SteffanosWednesday, February 15, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

It's been a busy Valentines Day for the Mets as they prepare to open spring training camp. Pedro Martinez has reported to camp, but is still waiting for that magical shoe Nike is making for him. In need of insurance for a starting rotation beset by age and question marks, the Mets rolled the dice by offering Jose Lima a minor-league invite. Billy Wagner is psyched to represent his country, and the Mets are going to do something nice for a local St. Lucie family displaced by nature's wrath:

NY Times: Pedro arrives at camp
Ben Shpigel reports on Pedro Martinez' arrival in spring training camp:

In typical Pedro Martinez fashion, he was first heard, not seen, after arriving here Tuesday.

Martinez bounded out of a friend's Range Rover a little after 9:30 a.m., giggled and shouted some words in Spanish, then headed through a side door into the Mets' minor league clubhouse. When he emerged, gone were his trademark Jheri curls, replaced by an Afro in its early stages. He looked robust with an extra 11 pounds, a fuller face and the glow of a newlywed.

Shpigel also reports that Pedro is still waiting for Nike to get those special shoes to him, and is none too pleased at the delay:

They're getting a lot of publicity that they don't deserve. It will make a difference, I hope. I'm just waiting for the real thing.

Martinez is utilizing a temporary solution right now which Shpigel describes as "gauze tape wrapped around the front of the shoe and contains an insole and silicon gel pushed flush against the injured toe."

Mets.com: Another insurance policy for the rotation
Tom Singer reports that the Mets have signed 33-year-old RHP Jose Lima to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite. He'll be among the two or three dozen candidates for a fifth starter slot in St.Lucie. If he doesn't make the squad and accepts a slot in AAA-Norfolk, he can serve as insurance down there.

Lima had 2 excellent years with the Astros in 1998 and 1999, winning 21 games with an all-star appearance in '99. Since then he's been up and down, emphasis on down, with last year being fairly horrendous as he pitched 32 games of batting practice (6.99 ERA, 219 H and 31 HR in 168.2 IP).

No Joy In Metsville: Lima's looking a little better...
Vinny from No Joy In Metsville offers a couple of compelling reasons for Mets fans to hope Lima winds up in Flushing.

Mets.com: Wagner Honored to pitch for USA
Tom Singer quotes Billy Wagner on pitching for the American squad in the WBC from a conference call on Tuesday:

I've always wanted to play in an Olympics, and I'm honored to be a part of this. With the talent we have, and the pride we'll feel taking the field to play for the United States, I look forward to the experience.

Sigh... Don't get hurt, Billy.

ESPN Insider (Subscription): Pitching Prospects vs. Position Player Prospects
Rob Neyer has an interesting article on that old baseball question regarding the value of pitching prospects vs. position prospects. Position prospects are more likely to make it to the major leagues and contribute, while a developed pitcher is much more valuable than a skill player of a comparable talent level:

...Nothing's certain in baseball, but predictability does have a value all its own. The Red Sox are thrilled to have Craig Hansen, Jon Papelbon and Jon Lester ... but are they counting on any of those fragile young hurlers in 2006 -- or at any point in the future?

It's a good thing to have young pitchers who might become something someday. But it's a better thing to have young hitters who probably will be something someday.

Mets fans with a memory back to the "Generation K" trio can vouch for that, but the bottom line is that developing good young pitching puts you way ahead of the game when it comes to building a winner. Starters, especially those suited for the middle to top of the rotation, are hard to get a hold of. Look what Toronto had to give A.J. Burnett -- who has a world of talent but is a .500 pitcher. This is always a fascinating debate for those with an interest in talent development.

Mets Press Release: Mets, MLB, Habitat for Humanity partner
New York Mets, Major League Baseball to build home in conjunction with St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity Feb. 28 at Tradition Field

The New York Mets and Major League Baseball will build a new home to benefit a local family affected by Hurricane Katrina in conjunction with St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity, it was announced today. This home build is part of the Major League Baseball initiative to aid those affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and to contribute to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region. St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity is working with local agencies to identify a Katrina displaced family for this new home.

Read the rest of of the press release.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: Bobby V.
I'm a little late with this link, but to celebrate Valentines Day, Greg from FAFIF offered an interesting look at one of the truly interesting characters in Mets history who shares a name with the special day.

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