By Mike Steffanos
I was going to write about today's games, particularly the one in St. Lucie vs. the Nationals, but the Mets were so awful today it isn't worth the effort. They lost both split squad games by a combined score of 22-1.
As he did his previous time out, Chan Ho Park managed to put up some impressive strikeout totals. His location was terrible, though, and even though he was a little unlucky in giving up 7 runs (4 earned) in 3 innings of work, he didn't look like someone I'd trust in a real game. I guess he has 3 more starts to straighten it out but, if the season started today, it would be very difficult to make a case for Park over Mike Pelfrey.
Of course, according to Willie the Mets won't really need their fifth starter until mid-April. What they will certainly need earlier is some long relief. Enter Jorge Sosa in the fourth after Park departed. The good news is that Sosa didn't give up any homers. The bad news is that he allowed 8 hits and 6 runs (3 earned) in only 2 innings of work. After getting a little unlucky when the first two batters that he faced hit soft ground balls for base hits, Sosa started leaving pitch after pitch up in the zone with predictable results. He wasn't throwing many strikes, but everything he got over the plate was being hit hard.
In the other game vs. the Orioles, Aaron Sele -- another candidate for the fifth starter and long reliever jobs -- allowed hits to the first 7 batters he faced en route to a 6-run first inning. To his credit, he lasted 5 innings and only allowed one more hit. I have serious doubts about Sele, who seems to have little left in his tank, but his results aren't any worse than Park's. Actually, Sosa has outpitched both these guys, but he inspires little confidence.
I could understand if the Mets decided to leave Pelfrey in New Orleans until the fifth starter started getting regular work, but some guys out of this veteran group need to step up. There are jobs to be won here. The top four starters seem to be set right now with Glavine, El Duque, Maine and Perez. Figure Wagner, Heilman, Schoeneweis and Feliciano have jobs sewn up. That still leaves 3 spots out of camp, even if the team elects to start the season with the extra position player. Aaron Sele, Jorge Sosa and Chan Ho Park are all candidates for the long relief role. Jon Adkins has been pretty bad, but has a track record and no minor league options left. Joe Smith has been great, though he gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits in 2 innings in relief of Sele today. Still, he was pitching college ball this time last year. Ambiorix Burgos alternates between keeping his pitches down and looking great with leaving them up and looking terrible.
With two weeks left before the season starts it's homestretch time. For Chan Ho Park, in particular, it's time to start looking like a viable starting pitcher. When he signed he announced that he would be the Mets third starter. If he doesn't pick it up, he might be looking for a job soon.