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Mike SteffanosTuesday, February 13, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Although I have to confess that I have my own doubts about the Mets heading into 2007, I can't shake a sense of optimism as the start of training camp approaches. This amuses me, because almost 40 years as a Mets fan has made me into quite a pessimist. Yet last season I always seemed to be writing something with the theme that things weren't quite as bad as they were being portrayed. I spent a lot of time last year walking on the sunny side of the street, and that's not a place I'm used to being at all -- at least not when it comes to the Mets.

Funny, but for all of the doubt and uncertainty that surround this team heading into 2007, I still find myself walking in the light, almost despite myself. It's not because I can't foresee the possibility of things going horribly, horribly wrong. At one moment, I'm convinced that Oliver Perez is going to take a huge step forward this season. At another, I wonder if he'll be in New Orleans by June. Last season John Maine proved that he belongs in the major leagues, but this year he will be carrying the burden of expectations with him for the first time. Trust me, I'm very aware of all of the landmines this team must negotiate in 2007 to be successful, and I also understand that the division won't be nearly as weak as it was last year. I may be strolling in the sunshine, but the glasses that I'm wearing are not rose-colored.

I guess the bottom line is that I like this team. The age that scares the daylights out of us one moment is also a positive, because the Mets are lucky enough to have veterans that are willing to take young guys under their wing. Oliver Perez is a project, but he has a lot of mentors on this team beyond the time he spends with Rick Peterson. The Mets were unable to land that starting pitching horse that they were hoping to ride in 2007, but there is talent here to be developed. Perhaps some of this talent will fall by the wayside. Whatever happens this year, though, I really think that some of this young talent will establish itself. I don't think things will be as murky heading into 2008 as they are today.

I've been trying to write something that sums up all of these pitching previews I've been writing for over a month. I'm finding it difficult, because it's hard to foresee how it all plays out right now. We all have our favorites from the conga line of candidates that begins to shake itself out this week in Port St. Lucie, but it's like picking NCAA tournament brackets when it comes to guessing who all of the winners might be of this pitching derby. You can use all of the logic and facts at your disposal, but in the end there will probably be a few surprises.

I'm going to enjoy this season, even though I can't pretend to predict how it will all turn out. I like our talent going forward and I like our chances. If you want to wallow in all of the potential negatives, I understand. I just won't be joining you.

Wait -- what's this? The Mets just fired Omar and Willie and replaced them with Steve Phillips and Jeff Torborg? No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!!! Optimism fading. Pessimism returning. The horror! The horror!

... Wait. Hold on. It was just a dream. A ghastly, terrible, awful dream... Phew.

I guess there are worse evils in this world than pitching questions.

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 (7)

I"m not scared of the team "failing" because all the other teams, more specifically in the NL East have just as many question marks in the rotation as the Mets do. And the Mets are better than the other teams in the other parts of the game like offense, defense, depth, bullpen, and all that. So that's why I like the Mets.
And I just refuse to believe that the Phillies have this big bad rotation. Eaton, Moyer, and Lieber are all either mediocre, injury prone, or both.
Cole Hammels could be the big savior but can he pitch a whole season? Hell, can he stay healthy? BIG question mark in my opinion.
And as far as Freddy Garcia and Brett Myers go, they're beatable pitchers. Myers especially hasn't been very sucessful against the Mets. The current Mets have hit him REAL well.
I like the Mets, that's it, end of story.

Remember 1984, 1985? There were virtually no pitchers with a track record on the staff, only several guys with potential: Gooden, Darling, Terrell, Sid. Today we would say "obvious potential," only it wouldn't have been obvious back then to Frank Howard of most the other managers. Mike Torrez, HE was obvious to them.

It's not 1884, and Willie is not Davey. But the way the Mets have played the market this winter leaves me feeling that this year will be a year when the kids will get a real chance; and I nearly always find that a cause to cheer.

Let's Go Mets!

1. The Mets will compete. There are two scenarios; Either the Mets runaway early or its a race to the finish. Either way I think the Mets win.

2. If the race is close, Omar will spend. Last yr he pulled in El Duque early to cover Pedro. Then Olllie late. Lets not forget the other trade in Spring last yr, when Benson (Black Friday pitcher#2) was traded away for Benson and Julio (El Duque)--A 2for1 deal. My point is I think Omar has the pieces to fetch a Roy Oswalt/Santana type at some point if he wants to.

3. Benson out with rotator curve surgery. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2763185
I for one lit into Benson's track record of wearing down early in the season repeatedly..last yr he pitched pretty much the whole yr, but at a cost.

I remember 1969, with Gil Hodges in charge and guys like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry an outfield of Cleon Jones, Tommy Agee and Ron Swoboda. You just felt something that spring, something special was going to happen that year. They won 100 games that year and became World Champions. I feel that same kind of "something" this spring. I think we are in for a great, better then last year ride. It's just going to fall into place. We have that right kind of mix. I think after the all star break with the guys coming up from the farm and Pedro coming back we will be very strong and fine tuned for the 2nd half. I think this is our "special" year. I think am thinking to much, I got to go lay down now. Lets Go Mets.

A lot of us have been saying this stuff since before Christmas--nice of ya'll to join us in time for ST! Barring some shocking injuries or cab rides from hell, our guys are on their way to another heckuva year.

Starting Thursday, when pitchers and catchers report, a lot more people are going to be turned onto how much better our pitching will be this year than last year.

People also forget that rotations change as the season progresses. I don't see a midseason blockbuster happening, but I do see a call-up around then that involved Pelfrey, Humber, or both.

...or perhaps a midseason called of one Pedro Martinez, to JOIN Pelfrey and Humber with the big club.

I'll even take a late season callup of Pedro; we gotta be flexible about these things.

Meanwhile, Trachsel replaces Benson in Baltimore. Life's odd symetries.

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