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Skipping El Duque's Start Just a Smart Move

Mike SteffanosFriday, August 25, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I wasn't surprised by the news that the Mets were going to skip Orlando Hernandez' scheduled start for tonight. I wrote back on August 16 that I found it to be of concern that El Duque was approaching his innings total for 2005, which he surpassed in his last start against the Rockies. As a fan, I'd like to see the Mets go with their absolute best in their last shot at the Phillies this year, but I'd rather see them be as prepared as possible for the playoffs.

It's a good thing that Brian Bannister gets a chance to reestablish himself into the club's thinking. I'm hoping that the club elects to go with Oliver Perez tomorrow to get some sort of idea as to whether he might have something to offer the club this season. Those left-handed power arms are always intriguing, which is why I can only laugh when some in the media continue to call the trade that brought Roberto Hernandez and Perez here a "panic move". Sure, young Oliver is indeed a project, but a year ago you wouldn't have been able to pry Perez away from the Pirates if you offered much more than Xavier Nady in return. It's a reasonable gamble, people. I learned my lesson from the Kris Benson trade that you have to keep an eye on the guys who are labeled "throw-ins" on the deals. And, by the way, Roberto Hernandez looked pretty good last night, didn't he?

So, at the risk of watching the Phillies romp in our house this weekend -- and I won't lie, that will not make me happy if it comes to be -- we get a chance to give a couple of young pitchers an audition against a team that needs to win these games. There will be juice in the ballpark that may not be there against the floundering Rockies and Astros on the next road trip. The Phillies are still a tough test for a pitcher. Meanwhile, you're giving a 40+ pitcher who is important to your playoff chances a chance to recharge that valuable right arm.

I'm not sure what role Bannister and Oliver Perez might play for the rest of this season, but I think they both are important for the future of this club. If we've been reminded of anything this season, we understand how vulnerable an older pitching staff can be. Of course, it's possible that one or both of these young pitchers may be used as chips this winter, but I believe they both could be important building blocks in a changing of the guard on this staff. The Mets may not have a ton of prospects in their system, but do seem to have some depth at starting pitching. Perhaps next year we will be able to avoid the Jose Lima-type debacles.

I'm already reading some of the conspiracy theories that El Duque is more banged up than the Mets are letting on, much like I've been reading stuff in a similar vein for much of the summer. It bothers me less and less as the season wears on and this team shows its resiliency. At least it gets the vultures off of Paul Lo Duca for a while.

Newsday: Billy Wagner
David Lennon profiles the Mets closer. After blowing 3 of his first 10 save opportunities, Wagner has bounced back to save 25 of 27 chances.

Wagner has been an interesting story this year. He struggled so badly early in the year that he lost the confidence of Mets fans. Despite the fact that he has bounced back to pitch very well, he's managed to have just enough difficulty in saving games to leave that doubt in our heads when he comes into a game. Lately I've been asking myself, who that the Mets have ever had closing games would I feel safer with? Tug was a long time ago. Orosco and McDowell were solid, but far from infallible. Randy Meyers? John Franco? Benitez?

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Mulvey's First Start
Brian Moritz reports on Kevin Mulvey's Binghamton debut. On a pitch count of 55, Mulvey pitched 3 innings, gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. Moritz quotes Mulvey on his performance:

It felt good to get my feet wet on the mound again. To get thrown into the fire like this was very exciting. I hung that slider 0-2 to that guy, and it still hasn't landed yet. But still, it was good to be able to get out of those innings.

Getting Paid to Watch: Lastings
Bob contrasts the Mets businesslike treatment of Lastings Milledge this year with the stubborn coddling of Gregg Jefferies in 1989.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (11)

I cant wait to see perez, and banister start. Im just curious to see what the future holds for this team.Next year if were lucky maybe we can get a glimps of humber.

Humber/pefrey/bannister/main/perez.....whats not to be excited about? The future is so bright i gotta wear shades.

ALSO...is mota under contract next year? or is he just a rental?

Mota is a free agent this winner. If he keeps pitching well, they could always try to re-sign him, of course.

Speaking of rest, David Wright needs it like they need peace in the Middle East.

When you really take a close look at the Mets pitching and compare to other clubs with arms (are there really clubs with this many arms?), it reveals a heck of a lot of depth.

It may be fair to say that Trachsel, even with the winning percentage that he has, is not going to be a part of the rotation next year. The same could be said of El Duque. At the same time, it appears Maine will be in the mix, which leaves two spots open and the competition is in the form of Pelfrey, Bannister, Soler, Humber and Zambrano from the right side, and southpaw entries Williams and Oliver Perez.

The bullpen is also chock full of arms: Wagner, Sanchez, Heilman and Feliciano are all under contract and it would be hard to imagine deals not being offered to Bradford and Oliver. They could also resign the ageless Bert Hernandez and remember Juan Padilla (could be the replacement for Heilman should they deal Heilman as he gets out lefties) and Fortunato, as well as Bell, Ring and Henry Owens. Other ready arms could be Willie Collazo, Anderson Garcia, Tim Lavigne, Juan Garcia and Mitch Wylie. And of course, if Mota looks as good as his first two appearances, Omar could sign him and throw him in the mix as well.

Clearly, the Mets are stockpiled with good arms and many more young guns than old slingers. Is there any system that even remotely matches up?

And condsidering that leftfielder Alfonso Soriano is a free agent who the Mets covet, is there much else they have to do except sign Valentin for another season? Even at 2B, there is greater depth with Ruben Gotay and Anderson Hernandez with a chance to bump off Valentin, or even Woodward. Omar and Fred can even save a lot of dough by letting Milledge and Chavez share the leftfield and backup outfielder role. Franco and Castro will almost certainly be on the 25-man roster.

The Mets are actually in the enviable position of being able to stock their farm system and nurture a lot of young talent.

To all the naysayers, second-guessers and Klapisch--stop the drivel and get real. The Mets could stand pat (but Omar won't) and still intimidate.

Matt -- agree with you completely.
Dave -- I'm not an expert on the minor leagues, so I couldn't tell you how the Mets system stacks up to others as far as arms, but I'm with you on being happy with it.

The gregg Jeffries saga ended a dynasty. greg was not coddled at all, but was not protected from an acidic clubhouse. greg could easily have been an all-star 3rd baseman.

the new ERA protects young players now because young players are important to a teams budget. If that team were here now Keith (dare I say would have been traded away earlier as would HOJO who was a defensive liability. Greg's major protagonist was the present Atl pitching coach. After the 1988 team disintegrated the Mets could have been rebuilt, rather than waiting untill 1994/5. That team (given present philosophy would have been rebuilt around Straw, gooden, Jeffries(3rd), Magadan(1st) Dykstra (CF),Cone, Kevin tapani, Rick aguilera and David west.

Instead Harazin et al tried to import 'talent' ie coleman, Saberhagen, fernandez, Murray, and Bonilla with FAMOUS results.

Milledge is being protected much as Reyes was...not being allowed to feel as if he is 'the great hope' and being given morsel of the black eyes the media is setting him up for. Willie and Co. have not let him get too high nor 2 low.


The phillys scare me. Their abudance of left handed pitchers is not assuraing. The Phils have been the only club in recent weeks to do the mets harm. What do you think?

Ed -- If you are saying it wasn't all GJ's fault I agree with you. Much of the resentment from the vets was due to the ridiculous coddling, however. The difference between how GJ and Wright were handled early in their big-league careers are examples of how to do it vs. how not to do it.
Patrick -- If they were both playing for the division title and had the same motivation it would bother me more. Still, losing to the Phillies repeatedly is not a good trend to set heading into next year. I agree with you that the Mets are a little lefty-heavy right now and vulnerable to LH pitching, but part of that is due to Wright's prolonged slump. He should be feasting on all these lefties.

The two things I remember best from the declining years of the '80's teams are these:

-that Greg Jeffries was SO misread as a defensive player. Our shortstop of the future; I recall an article, think it ran in Sports Illustrated, of all the kooky drills Jeffries' dad put him through, swinging a bat under water and the like. He also had his kid fielding grounders, but these grounders were superballs, and the practice field was asphalt. It sounded thisclose to torture to moi.

-and all the wrongheaded trades, both those made and the ones attempted. Dykstra for Samuels was bad enough, but try on the attempted deal of Sid Fernandez and Howard Johnson for a declining Mark Langston, jeez. Harazin was always trying to give away two or more solid contributors to acquire a washed up Dale Murphey. I agreed with Ed's comment above, but I wish he had left out Al Harazin's name entirely; I could happily have gone another millineum having not read that name again.

It matters, don't it, who is running the store? Some guys manage to look good playing General Manager for a while, and I'm thinking of Brian Sabean especially. Then you look up and your team has three outfielders over forty years old. I'll take a guy like Terry Ryan over Sabean any time, only there aren't so many to choose from like Ryan. The Mets have hired a good General Manager after years of bad guesses, and it has only made all the difference.

mike, Bob's view was EXTREMELY polarized. If anything the evidence he uses shows how bad the Mets GM's were. If I remember moving Jeffries to 2nd was at the expense of Keith Miller. But Hojo was horrid at 2nd and SS. And in 19991, Jeffries was traded to KC for Sabes, but that GG Bonilla filled at 3rd.

The only valid point was Greg should have been demoted.

dd -- Harazin was bad, as was most who followed, but Frank Cashen was still heavily involved with the decision making at that time and deserves a lot of the blame, too. As for Sabean, I think he is a little hamstrung in SF, although I would tend to agree that he is at least somewhat overrated.
Ed -- I don't base my feelings towards GJ on what Bob wrote. I don't need Bob to tell me how I felt during those years, thank you very much. I followed the team very closely back then. Saying GJ was coddled is no reflection on Jeffries, it is directed at how the team was run. If Jeffries was brought up today by the current regime it might have been a completely different story, however, GJ never seemed to have his heart or head in the game as Wright does, perhaps because his father ruined it for him. I remember the same stories that DD alludes to. I don't want to get into an arguement with you over Jeffries, but I'd appreciate it if you understood that I form my point of view from my own observations, not what someone else writes.

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