By Mike Steffanos
I have to admit that the spring training games are losing their appeal for me. It didn't help that SNY allowed amateurish audio problems to persist for almost half the game. Also not helpful is the fact that the Mets' offense has been almost as exciting to watch this spring as the farm report. But mainly it's just the reality that the season is almost here and the time for pretend baseball games is waning.
The Mets tossed Chan Ho Park a curve today. It appears he will no longer be considered for a rotation slot, but rather is now being looked at as a short reliever. I can see the logic in this, but it is surprising. With Aaron Sele in short relief it appears that the New Orleans roster will have some talented, if erratic, relievers to start the year. Perhaps Ambiorix Burgos can finally learn not to overthrow his fastball in New Orleans.
With Mike Pelfrey taking the fifth starter role some time in Mid-April, the Mets starting rotation will be 3/5 20-somethings (Maine, Perez, Pelfrey) and 2/5 40-somethings (Glavine, El Duque). Quite an interesting blend. Meanwhile, the beat guys who follow the club seem to think that 23-year-old Joe Smith has all but sewn up a roster spot. You could at least hope that Burgos would settle down and work on locating his fastball down in the zone where he was really effective early this spring, and that he might be in New York at some point.
For what it's worth, I have a feeling that Scott Schoeneweis might tag team with Aaron Heilman in that bridge to Wagner role until (hopefully) Sanchez returns some time around mid- to late-April.
John Maine had a somewhat rough outing against the Marlins in the split squad game. I don't know about the rest of you, but that doesn't particularly worry me. I think he's ready to start the season. Lino Urdaneta had a rough two innings and took the loss. He seemed to have at least a dark horse shot at the bullpen, and this game probably didn't help him.
The split squad games are now a thing of the past heading into the last week of spring ball. Mike Pelfrey will start Sunday afternoon's game against the Astros in St. Lucie with a rotation job all but won. The game is on channel 11 at 1 PM.