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Something Old...

Mike SteffanosWednesday, August 16, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I've been generally pleased with Orlando Hernandez's pitching since he came to the Mets, especially over the last month. One thing that's been nagging me, however, is the fact that at 125 innings combined between the Mets and D-backs, he is getting close to the innings total he had for all of last year. He pitched 128 regular season innings for the White Six in 2005, getting off to a very good start but suffering some injury problems late in the year.

If you go back further, there's more room for concern. He only pitched 85 innings in 2004, coming back later in the season after missing the entire 2003 season. In 2002 he pitched 146 innings, in 2001 only 95. Therefore, although I agree with the premise that older pitchers like El Duque are just going to take their lumps once in a while, I'll be keeping my eye on how he looks over his next few starts. I also think it might be prudent of the Mets to hold his innings down somewhat the rest of the way. With 6 weeks left to go, it's conceivable that Hernandez can get another 8 to 10 starts. I don't think I'd push that old arm quite that hard.

"DD" left this comment on my wrap of last night's game:

Tell you, I love this team, and I love Pedro, but I won't be sad when the next wave of Mets pitchers takes that last stride forward.

I think most of us would agree with that. I find it interesting that the Tigers and the Mets, two of the year's most improved teams, are experiencing problems with their pitching staff from opposite ends of the spectrum. The Tigers have kids who are wearing out as they approach their career highs in innings, while the Mets starters are wearing out from age and injury concerns. I always felt the best situations combine a solid mix of experience and youth. I would expect one or two of the young pitchers that the Mets have will step into important roles for next year.

As for this season, Brian Bannister's 8 shutout innings for Norfolk bodes well, in particular if Pedro needs to go on the DL again. I wouldn't pitch Bannister on short rest for Saturday, however. Not when he's already missed such a long period of time with injuries. It would seem that Oliver Perez would be the top candidate to take Saturday's start if Pedro can't go. We haven't heard definitive word that Pedro will miss any starts, but I'd be almost shocked if he didn't at this point. The Mets have done a very good job juggling things to get the most out of their geriatric rotation in 2005. I hope next year we have different things to talk about.

In the meantime, let's hope that spry senior Tom Glavine can stop the bleeding for the Mets tonight.

Child's Play
Charles Euchner, who wrote the excellent baseball book The Last Nine Innings, has written a new book about all the craziness that surrounds the Little League World Series, Little League, Big Dreams. I'll be reviewing the new one in the near future. Charlie is also blogging the LLWS and Youth Sports in general at The Early Show. If you have kids who play competitive sports, or just a keen interest in the subject, Euchner's blog is a daily must-read.

The Early Show
My review of The Last Nine Innings

SI.com: Lo Duca
Aditi Kinkhabwala proves that she has no future in tabloid journalism. The poor woman will have to just settle for being a decent human being and a very good sportswriter, I guess.

NY Sports Day: Jose Valentin
We've been treated to a lot of great Jose Valentin profiles lately, but Joe McDonald goes one better on everyone else by getting Valentin's take on the evolution of his offensive game from "all or nothing" home run guy to the more complete hitter he's been this season.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (9)

Regarding that Lo Duca SI article, it's heartening to discover a writer that can bring a sense of proportion to that ongoing nonsense.

Hey, I don't think that people should live lies, y'know? But exactly how did Mr. Lo Duca get singled out for punishment?

Back when I moved to NYC in the early 80's I worked as a bartender at one of the big hotels for about eighteen months. The motel happened to be where many of the visiting teams stayed when they played in New York. I assure you, many, many players do cheat on their partners when they go out of town; it's not a short list that I could compile, and that's just the guys who visibly screwed around during my bar shifts. One woman I knew had flings with an all star American League outfielder and a NBA head coach, both of them married, simultaneously. (And you know what? She was not anything so special in the looks department. Or otherwise so far as I could tell.)

Sigh; I do sometimes read the Post, at least they don't treat the Mets as a second class operation, which distinguishes it from the News and the Times. But who needs this slime?

If the Mets win today and tomorrow... and shovel a fresh pile of dirt on the Philthies, then they absolutely should DL pedro and Duque and give the ball to Bannister & Perez. Just as long as it's not Lima.

dd -- It really is getting really weird with Lo Duca, and it doesn't seem like it's going away any time soon.
Anonymous -- I'll second that on Lima.

OK I did nt want to be first.

1. You hit a nail almost everyone missed. El duque has been injured or underused for years and right now he probably is hitting the wall. Previous debates had Traxx or him being demoted, but El duque has been used out of the pen extensively before, and given his accumulated workload this is a good time to revisit his Yankee/CWS role as a reliever.

2. Timing is everything. Bannister skipped AAA for the most part but was very impressive early this yr given his experience. Aftewr a half season layoff, Bannister a finesse pitcher needs to find HIS groove. if he has it GREAT. If he AND Perez can come up and spell Pedro and let El Dukie go to the pen (in Oliver's old role) that would be a longway to helping the pitching.

3. Mike, You have lamented the X-trade loudest, and you were right. but given the lead in the standings and the foremost needs it seemed palatable two weeks ago. If Shawn green IS imported for X's role that would be an excellent substitution. Endy cannot play everyday and Cliffy is the true whole in the line up. The loss of Cliff's production and now we hear Delgado is hurt could be a ripple effect. I think Omar should pay out for green who is a (Cliff type)lefty bat and easily makes a nice mix with Lastings and Endy. Plus the odd man out is Ricky Ledee.
Lastings is probably pushing too hard and the rest of the team is not hitting....definately not a team feeling urgency.

We do have to shake our heads a bit at Willie. For all his talents as a handler of men, what's with these outfield alignments? Chris Woodward is NOT an outfielder. Lastings Milledge is a centerfielder who is struggling in rightfield. Endy Chavez is the best outfielder on the team. That's right--even miles ahead of Beltran. So, Endy has to play most of the time. Milledge should be at Norfolk playing the corners. Tucker and Ledee add experience, lefthanded bats and similar skills, although Tucker may be the better and more versatile player. Seems that the Mets do miss the X-Man and need a righthanded OF instead of the Tucker/Ledee tandem. But Endy HAS to play. He is a pitcher's best friend and leads the league in OF assists. What is Willie thinking? Pained eyes want to know?

Here's another question: Would you rather have Delgado and his aging skills and nagging injuries, which to his credit, he plays through--OR--would you like to have both Mike Jacobs and Yusimiero Petit on your team and in your system? One thing is for sure, Omar will have to really reflect on the value of trading away young talent for older players. Picking up a free agent with age is one thing, trading a youngster with a great lefthanded swing and pop is another.

Ed -- I'm thinking that they'd be more likely to put El Duque in the 'pen after Pedro comes back. If I'm the Mets I look at Oliver's start on Saturday and decide from there if he's ready to pitch in the majors right now. I'm with you in thinking he could help them next year, so if he doesn't have his game back together yet I'd rather let him work on it in Norfolk.

The only thing that bothers me about Green -- besides his ridiculous salary -- is that he is yet another lefty. Still, if this keeps up they're going to need somebody.

Dave -- I think Willie is just trying to get Woodward some ABs and get him going. I'd agree with you on playing Chavez more. I think Tucker is the better player right now because Ledee is still banged up.

Delgado has been a leader on this team in a way that Mike Jacobs never could have been. This was a win-now team, and that was a win-now trade. I thought at the time it was made that Jacobs was going to be a good player for a long time, so I'm not surprised. The most important thing to me would be if Delgado could just start hitting again.

On that note;
a. As last minute tinkering ensues; I think Woody needs to spell DW more often. That aside, I can see woody in a trade (to ARZ?) and Fonz take his place spelling at 2nd/3rd.

b. Green's salary (&age/production) compares to Cliff. If Arz pays (some)that fills an opening for next yr too. Could Green bring a Darryl Hamilton sized lift? maybe.

Right now Woody is the backup to Jose, so I'd be surprised if he left. Not totally shocked, I guess. I could see Green coming here, I think a lot depends on Cliff. I still wish they could find a RH OF.

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