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The Arms Race

Joyce MandelkernWednesday, January 17, 2007
By Joyce Mandelkern

I'm not exactly sure whom Omar is keeping busier this offseason - Rick Peterson or Mike Steffanos, with all the additions to the pitching staff. I'm guessing Mike, since Rick only needs to spend 15 minutes with each to "fix" them a la Victor Zambrano and Mike's in depth write-ups of each pitcher must take hours on end. I jest, of course, not about Mike's excellent analyses, but the amount of time Peterson will spend with each new arm. I will eventually forget the remark Peterson made re: Zambrano as soon as I can move past that fiasco of a trade. Please understand, however, that I have the utmost respect for Peterson as a pitching coach and know full well that our staff would be much less effective without him. In fact, I consider him to be a key to our franchise's improvement and success over the past few years.

Every baseball pundit has criticized Omar for not improving our starting rotation. They did the same thing at the July 31st trading deadline last year. It always amuses me that these people seem to think that it is so easy to just target someone and make it happen. As if you could just point your finger and say "I take him" and he is yours to have. The Zito thing did not work out for obvious reasons and this offseason there were slim pickings out there. Plus, these slim pickings were very very expensive. And what I have finally learned in my old age is that just because something is expensive does not mean that its better than something that is less expensive. And Omar seems to agree.

He, instead, has chosen to stockpile pitchers. One can never have too many pitchers as we learned last season. These pitchers come to us at very little cost. They are very low risk and could be very high reward when all is said and done. They also offer some flexibility as to whether they start or go to the bullpen as middle or long relief or setup guys if need be (and I hope not!). And some might be able to help us in the trade market further down the line. Remember Jorge Julio?? As they say in the football draft biz, they have a "big upside". Let's see who steps forward. Let's see if there is a diamond in the rough. Let's see if someone can have a career year. Let's see if Rick can work some magic. Let's see if hanging around Glavine and El Duque and Pedro helps these guys learn something. It is certainly worth a shot given what is out there and given the minimal financial investment. And as far as I'm concerned, a great Plan B on Omar's part. Let it all play out and see who is still standing at the end.

This is why we have one of the best pitching coaches in major league baseball, and a GM who can supply him with raw talent that he can work with and develop. Competition is healthy and should motivate these pitchers to better themselves. A spot on the major league roster should be motivation in and of itself. It is a very long season and arms are good to have. Bottom line is - it is worth a shot!

So Mike, it looks like you've got your work cut out for you!

About Joyce: I am an insanely passionate die-hard Mets fan since 1962 who is also a season ticket holder and usually can't bear to look and buries her head in her hands or starts pacing when I'm home when things get tense...   Read More -->

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