« Monday's Game Notes | Main | The Ticket Lottery »

The Spring Continuum

Dave MillsTuesday, March 13, 2007
By Dave Mills


With more than 40% of the Mets 2007 Spring Training schedule in the dust, there are a few cautious observations to be made and perhaps a few cogent prognostications to be attempted. The more fascinating pitching scenarios are first up, with the everyday and bench personnel making an appearance here later in the week.

STARTING PITCHING
Most surprisingly, there is nothing really surprising going on with the starting staff. Glavine and John Maine look reasonably sharp on schedule for opening day. Mike Pelfrey has shown more poise and confidence along with great ease of motion and natural talent. Oliver Perez has been a little shaky, while contemporaneously displaying his extraordinary abilities. Same can be said for Jason Vargas. Phillip Humber has shown he needs some innings on his arm to hone his genuinely attractive three-pitch repertoire. Chan Ho Park is really just getting started after visa problems, which puts him a bit behind. Ditto El Duque, whose nagging ailments indicate he is on the high side of 40 rather than his listed age of 37 (who's kidding who?). Jorge Sosa is still serving up gopher balls and looking like more risk than reward. Aaron Sele has put in a couple of quality appearances after a couple of beatings and Alay Soler has accomplished exactly the opposite.

Concerns
What's with this fascination and reliance on El Duque? At best, he may be a reasonably effective 5th starter, who can pitch out of rotation and perhaps four times a month to save him from nagging injury, tired arm syndrome or complete breakdown. Jorge Sosa to the pen seems to be the consensus of the Mets media. Holy gopher balls Batman! Talk about the worst move possible? Can't believe Minaya/Randolph/Peterson would let that happen. Sosa would then become the pitcher of choice only in blowouts or early hooks. Do you think Willie would go to him in a critical situation? Last year, Roberto Hernandez got rocked a couple of times and became the forgotten man down the stretch and postseason. Ostensibly, he was the guy for whom they traded Xavier Nady.

Conclusions
No one can make much more of the starting staff at this point than the day before pitchers and catchers reported. Certainly, there are still a lot of arms in the mix. Since Pelfrey and Humber need to apply professional innings to their arms, there is really no need to rush them to Shea. The same can probably be said for Vargas, although he and Pelfrey are certainly in play. Soler may still be in play as well. Those four combined with Adam Bostick could comprise a very impressive AAA staff with huge upside potential. Glavine, Maine, Perez appear to be a lock for the first three spots with Sele or Park looking like a 4th starter. However, we are in the 4th Inning with five to play and anything can happen.

Competitive Sets
The Minnesota Twins are an interesting team to compare with the Mets. They field a roster of everyday and bench players that are quite impressive and perhaps slightly more youthful than the Amazins, yet beyond their best-in-the-business ace (for my money), Johan Santana, their starting staff is just putrid. If Ron Gardenhire makes the postseason with those arms he is the class manager in baseball, which he may well be already. For Mets fans--Would you rather have Santana and the rest of that starting staff or all the pitchers in the Mets current mix? Which takes me to the next logical question--Would you trade Milledge, Humber, Vargas and Sosa for Santana? Could the Twins get more? Probably not after July 31 as Santana is a free agent after the 2008 season. Is that too much for the Mets to give up? Perhaps, but Santana IS the real deal.

RELIEF PITCHING
The 2007 bullpen is showing signs of promise and hemorrhage at the same time. Wagner, Heilman and Feliciano are all locks and in moving right along without a hitch. Feliciano has been particularly impressive with no runs and nary a handful of men on base. Scott Schoeneweis also looks like a terrific and versatile pickup by Minaya and company. One other specialist, who has literally blown batters away, is Joe Smith, whose B-flat name belies his exotic sidearm delivery and electric stuff. Another plus performer has been Ambiorix Burgos. His 100 mph fastball and physical attributes have opened everyone's eyes. A non-roster invitee, by the name of Lino Urdaneta, another one of those Minaya 'flush-em-out-of-another-system' kind of guys, also demands an even closer look and serious consideration, which he may receive due to circumstances beyond the Mets control.

Concerns
On the minus side are a host of issues. Guillermo Mota is out until June (suspension) and Juan Padilla must rebuild arm strength following Tommy John surgery before last season. Mets brass and fans were counting on a complete recovery and return to form by Duaner Sanchez. No Met reliever had ever been so effective and dominant for the first four months of a season. One look at Sanchez's paunch was enough to see something was afoul. Repeated tardiness made matters worse with Randolph and teammates, who were quick to comment and express disappointment. No question, Sanchez may be out as long as Mota and to rush Padilla would be a shame. Jon Adkins, one of the two players picked up from the Padres for Royce Ring and Heath Bell (both should help the Pads) has looked 'yard' hittable thus far. Adkins will have to be set free if he doesn't make the Mets 25-man roster, as he is out of options.

Conclusions
The Mets might be wise to go with six bullpen arms for the 10 days of the season as they have three days off. This will allow them to carry an extra right-handed bat on the bench. Three excellent lefties are more than any other club in The Show. Heilman should continue to move farther away from the starting role he so desires. Right now, Smith, Burgos and Urdaneta could be vying for the other two or three spots. And since Mota, Padilla and Sanchez could all be ready before the end June 1, what would the Mets have to lose by letting those three youngsters take the ball to gain some major league experience? The Zephyr's will have a host of bullpen options that can begin with Burgos or Urdaneta as the closer set up by Sanchez and Padilla until Mota gets there to tune-up for his season. Other AAA names are likely to include righties Carvajal, Schmoll and lefties Camacho and Collazo.

Competitive Sets
No team has improved their bullpen as much as those pesky Braves. With closer Bob Wickman now set up by two quality southpaws (Mike Gonzales and McKay McBride) and three effective righties (Raphael Soriano, Oscar Villarreal and Tyler Yates), Mets batters better get by Smoltz and beat up on the other Brave starters fast and furious. Moreover, Bobby Cox has weapons that have been lacking for some time. From the left side, the Mets match up better than the Braves, but with Sanchez, Mota and Padilla missing for a while, Heilman with Smith, Burgos or Urdaneta have potential, but are certainly NOT a sure thing. Give Atlanta a slight edge for the first couple of months. As usual, however, due to Omar's stacking of arms, the Mets have so much depth that it is tough to find a similar scenario on any other roster.

Still much too early to say much more than we have here, but the next couple of weeks should be fascinating. Lots of decisions and the inevitable conundrum of how to get all these arms work as they stretch to six innings or more. But like anything in life, isn't having many options a true blessing?

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

Support Mike's Mets by shopping at our Amazon Store

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
MetsBlog
Hot Foot

Comments (3)

Can count Alay Soler out. He's been released.

Matt Garza is a Twins pitcher not named Santana that I would decline to call putrid. Bonser might put it together and have a good year; and Silva looked all right once upon a time (I don't want him though).

For that matter I would take Joe Nathan over Billy Wagner, though that wasn't the question. And, I forgot to mention Jesse Crain and Rincon. And others; the fact is the Twins do have some decent arms lying around.

And the Twinks, as always, have a ton of good looking young pitchers. The difference is, this year most of their best kid pitchers are a few years away.

Sir Sidney Ponson and Russ Ortiz, though....bleah! That flight's gotta include a barf bag.

What I would really like to know about the Twins is how a team that had so many outfield options only two years ago can now find themselves starting Rondell White and having Jason Tyner as their 4th man.

There is no need to keep Pelfrey in the minors and start, one of the washed up vets..

If Pelfrey has a 0.00 ERA and Chan Ho Park has a 32426342367423 era theres no reason for Pelfrey to go down to the minors..

I also think Joe Smith automatically makes the pen, the guy is solid he should atleast be in there till sanchez gets back hes looked better then burgos and urdenta or w.e who gave up 2 runs today..


I also think Lastings Milledge should start in RF, he gives the team so much more then a washed up Shawn Green..

In his first full season Milledge can put up numbers like .280 19 75
Play Amazing Defense and show off his gun..

Shawn Green will more likley put up .270 13 homeruns 67 rbi, now Its not THAT big of a diffrence on offense, but with Shawn Green your asking Beltran to cover CF LF AND RF (Alou) and thats just going to make for some bad Outfield defnese..

also shawn green dosn't have any speed at all, Milledge can steal 20+ bases, and his speed helps him in the outfield..

Green has no RANGE, Milledge Great range..

Conclusion?

#5 Starter-Mike Pelfrey
Bullpen Spot-Joe Smith
RF-Lastings Milledge

its time to give the young guys a chance and then fall back on the veterans if it dosn't work out you dont always have to go old and stay old

About Mike's Mets

Please support Mike's Mets:

Disclaimer: Mike's Mets is an independent, unofficial fan site, and is not affiliated in any way with the New York Mets or Major League Baseball.

Other Links

General Baseball Links
Internet Radio Shows
Video Blogs
Other Team Links
Other Sports Links
Non-Sports Links
Video Direct

Looking for great deals on MLB Baseball Tickets? Visit JustgreatTickets.com for Cubs Tickets, NY Mets Tickets and a huge selection of Red Sox Tickets, Yankees Tickets and plenty of great concert Tickets for Dave Matthews Band Tickets and Buffett Tickets

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.1