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All in All, Not a Bad Year

Mike SteffanosSunday, December 31, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

With just a few hours left in the year 2006, I think most of us Mets fans will look back on it with a mixture of pride and regret. Although the Mets ultimately came up short, you can't overlook the progress that was made. If 2005 was the year the Mets became respectable again, 2006 was the year they took the next step forward as a team. Now the remaining question is, of course, can this team put it together and win a championship?

There can be no doubt that those championship hopes took a hit when the Mets failed to sign Barry Zito or land an established starting pitcher in a trade. Right now, the starting rotation looks like Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, John Maine, Oliver Perez and a scrum of candidates. While it's not an ideal situation for a contender to find themselves in, there is opportunity here for some young pitchers to step up and perhaps become a rotation mainstay going forward. While it's easy to hang on the negatives of who's not here, look at the following six names that will be competing for those 3 spots under Glavine and El Duque:

  1. John Maine (trade 1/2006)
  2. Oliver Perez (trade 7/2006)
  3. Dave Williams (trade 5/2006)
  4. Mike Pelfrey (2005 draft)
  5. Phil Humber (2004 draft)
  6. Jason Vargas (trade 12/2006)

Only Phil Humber was with the Mets organization in the spring of 2005, and he missed most of that season after Tommy John surgery in June. All of the other names are promising young pitchers with a lot of upside who Minaya has accumulated since taking over, with the exception of Humber who was drafted under Jim Duquette's watch. There is some talent in this bunch, and both Maine and Perez made big contributions last year. Perhaps it would be wise to give things a couple of months to shake out before we join the mob looking to ride Minaya out of town on a rail.

I'd like to see what some of this bunch can do, much more than I would like to see a trade that sends Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman and another prospect out of here for the A's Joe Blanton. I know he's available, but that's too much to give up for a guy who took a huge step back in 2006. Check out these numbers:

 Year ERA Hits/IP OPP
 2005 3.53 0.89 .236 .394 
 2006 4.82 1.24 .309 .448 

To me, those numbers scream "Red Flag!" In typical A's fashion, this kid who just turned 26 has been used hard, with combined major and minor league inning totals over the past 3 seasons of 184, 201 and 194. A jump of over 70 points in opponents' batting average and over 50 points in slugging is not a positive trend. While any pitcher will benefit from a move to the NL, is this just another young A's starter heading for some kind of surgery? With apologies to the San Francisco Chronicle's Ray Ratto (what a name), who thinks a trade of Blanton to the Mets for Milledge and more is "likely", I strongly vote "no." If we're going to roll the dice, I'd rather role it with what we already have.

You have some potential quality among these candidates and you have numbers. Both are important. Envision a scenario where the team breaks camp with a rotation of Tom Glavine, El Duque, Oliver Perez, John Maine and Dave Williams (going for the previous experience, feel free to slot in your own favorite here). Inevitably, there will be injuries or some won't perform. That would leave Pelfrey, Humber, Vargas as guys who may be looked to step in over the course of the season. Add in Alay Soler, who despite experiencing some struggles showed some promise, too. It may not be a sure thing, but it's not unreasonable to hope that Pedro Martinez could return in the second half and contribute something. This is a far from hopeless situation. There are some intriguing and promising options that weren't here a year ago.

Fan Highlight Video
Mets fan Scott Tutshen sent me a link to his nicely done 2006 Mets tribute video. Check it out.

Happy New Year, everyone, and Happy Birthday to Greg Prince at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (6)

Awesome tribute to the '06 Mets! Go Mets in 2007! Happy New Year everyone!

Not a bad year at all, Mike.

And as of midnight tonight, we get to say "Wait till THIS year!".

We also get to say the Cardinals were LAST year's champs. And that's old news.

Happy 2007, everyone!

NCmetsfan - Yeah, Scott did a nice job on that video.
NostraDennis - Happy 2007 to you.

Heyya All....Long Time between...speakin of, if I could have my way, and why not..My New Years pick-up from the cut out bin is Mark Mulder....ya know, the ex X Filer...hes low rent comparitively, short term and hes a disciple of the Jacket...turning the quarter mile pole in June with newly-wedded blissed-out sexed-up (hey, he's on the DL right? and needs the exercise) M>Mulder would be a groundball delight come summertime, when the outfeild grass is as high as an elephants eye....Barrring that, then bring in that AARP eligible psycho in the S/M mask..."Hannibal" Clemens and his splintered bat kung-fu circus...hes a "f-in dickpunch" to other teams with his splitter and esp. his split personality perfect Hollywood ending,, he will be redeemed amongst the disbelievers, and carry us on his holier-than-thou, 'roid free, pimply shoulders to da promised land... he'll do it, if for no other reason but to stroke his olympic pool sized ego and further reinforce his HOF stats...dance wid da devil I say...if'n he's not too poisonous on the clubhouse atmosphere...NY'ers are always up fo' a good rehab job....imagine the PR mileage...pay em his bloated millions and "turn em loose" I declare..

oh yeah...call the O's regarding Rodrigo Lopez....and sure 'nuff the last last resort would be Anna Nicole Smiths soon-to-be cozy bedpartner... David " I Love NY too much" Wells (my lovematch vision)...wouldn't they be the ultimate Madison Ave follow-up to the other Anna and her pet Kris?...think about the Bus ads plus hes apparently found/still got his mojo and his impeccable location shtick..ehhhh ?

n8genius - I think maybe you lost me on Clemens.

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