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Rick Peterson Has His Work Cut Out For Him

Mike SteffanosSaturday, March 17, 2007
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.

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Comments (8)

Today's debacles were essentially campaign ads for Mike Pelfrey. While the young, super-talented, hard-throwing Pelfrey has absolutely pitched brilliantly this spring (with and without his fastball), the veterans competing with him have done what they can to prove to Willie and Omar that they would be better off going with youth over experience.

Looking at it objectively, Pelfrey just doesn't deserve to lose out on the 5th spot simply because Park or Sele are more experienced. Their ability and recent track records just don't warrant that type of respect. So if Pelfrey does get the 5th starter job the next question is who mans the pen?

As you said, Wagner/Heilman/Feliciano/Schoenneweis are all givens. That leaves room for a right handed setup man and a long reliever. I have long been, and remain now, a big believer in giving Joe Smith a shot. And if I had my way, I would pin Park in Sele in a battle with each other to earn the long relief job until Dave Williams returns. Sorry, but Jorge Sosa just doesn't inspire any kind of trust. Many years of watching the Mets has taught me one thing. My gut may not tell me who will be great, but it definitely tells me who will be terrible. And I run to the bathroom every time I see Sosa enter a game.

Sorry about the graphic description.

Well, Salman, you could just change the channel...

I'm trying to look at last night's loss to the Marlins and today's "games" in the best light possible. I got nothing. Unless we come to find out that Peterson had Burgos, Sele, Park, Sosa and Smith trying something different, just for this weekend, I'm gonna stay a little nervous until our next win.

Park sucking? That's fine with me. That was the last person I wanted on this team, given his track record before. The Long reliever job...You know, we may have to use Schoenneweis as an ad-hock long reliever, seeing as he has been a starter before. If not...Darren Oliver, where art thou?

Too much ado about nothing?

its pre-season: The goals for the pre-season (as I see it)were;
a: Rotation: Get Ollie on track, let Pel compete for the #5 spot (aaaron sele, sosa and Park are that competition), get a look at some others. Ollie was asked to throw strikes/repeat his mechanics. Shape is a factor. ollie easily fits into the #3starter role. Maine is looking like a #2. Pelfrey as bannister did last yr, has won the #5 job. The ?mark is El Duque who left off last yr with health/age issues and has not looked good yet. One more starter and we roll. ....so mike i know your view but Long relief could well be El Duque's role by August.

b outfield: Green-johnson-Lastings. 7 guys-5 jobs. I've seen it posted (Hot foot) that given lastings age and development (and price) he stays at AAA until a buyer appears for Green. Greens reputation, lefty bat, and good Spring should get him attention. Given price increases he could find takers.

c: patch the relief corps: really just needs some band aids untill Mota and Sanchez are ready. That will give Willie a look at (?) Burgos, Sosa, Smith. I think sele and Park are the Gonzalez/Lima of this yr.

Positives to take from yesterday's play: I like the green font Mike is using for players' names.

Salman - I'm starting to feel the same way about Sosa.
geezer - Personally, I'm not so much nervous as disappointed. I was hoping one of the vets would step up and stabilize things early on. I had realistic hopes for Park of being Steve Trachsel before the back surgery, but he looks more like Trachsel after the surgery.
Nick - I think Schoeneweis is going to start the year with Heilman as the bridge to Wagner. Someone else will have to step up for the long relief job.
Ed - Obviously, if I feel it's worth writing about, then no, I don't think it's too much ado about nothing. A couple of guys need to step up, and no one really is out of the vets. I think Green has at least a partial no-trade clause, which makes it tougher to deal him.
dd - That was just in honor of St. Patty. I'm like 4% Irish. Back to blue and orange for the color scheme.

Given Smith's performance this spring, the fact that he provides a different 'look' with his sidearm delivery and the fact that all of the other guys vying for spots in the pen have had major meltdowns, isn't Smith basically guaranteed a spot? He should be! I think there's still time for Burgos to redeem himself. If he learns from his mistakes. What about Padilla?

Chris - Remember Brian Bannister last year? In spring he threw nothing but strikes, then he came out once the real games started and had trouble throwing strikes. Any rookie can have that problem. I always liked bringing kids up during the year, it seems to take some pressure off them.

Having said that, I think Smith still has a great shot of winning a job out of camp, but it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't. Of course, someone else will have to pitch well.

Padilla had Tommy John just under a year ago. He only pitched in one game this spring. They're going slow with him, which is the right thing to do. I think he will start the year in the minors.

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