By Mike Steffanos
At the risk of sounding hard-hearted, I'm fine with Dillon Gee shuffling back off to Buffalo where he can start games and be ready for the next time they need him.
I know he pitched well here in 5 starts last September and a couple of starts this April. If the decision was based strictly on performance, Gee would still be in the rotation when Chris Young returns. In fact, he's outperformed every Mets starter except Young. But Gee is the kid with options, and he's going back down.
Inevitably there are those who are calling for six men rotations, Chris Capuano to the bullpen or Mike Pelfrey anywhere else. Some call for Gee to be the 'pen's long man. They argue that Gee has earned a spot, and it would be unfair to deny him.
Gee reminds me a lot of Brian Bannister, another young pitcher who lacked the blazing fastball or any other really dominating pitch. Like Bannister, Gee commands his pitches well and has brains and guts. And he has that last name that is snappy, lends itself well to puns and is as American as Apple Pie and making out with a cheerleader on the back of the school bus.
I'm sure there will be some controversy when the kid is sent down, but it's the right move.
With Young and Capuano in this rotation, the question is not if the Mets need Gee again, but only when. I'm betting on sooner rather than later. It wouldn't even shock me if Young didn't make it back Tuesday.
It feels pretty good to know that when the Mets do need someone, they can reach down and promote a kid who has a really good chance of giving them a decent start. This hasn't been the case very often over the last few years where emergency starts have generally gone to ineffective, washed up has-been veterans. I still have residual nightmares of Lima time, God rest his soul.
I like what I've seen of Gee so far, and I think he has a chance to be a contributor at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen. On the other hand, I've seen a lot of pitchers like him who are less successful once the league gets a good look at them, which is eventually what happened with Bannister. The margin of error is always smaller for those guys who don't light up the radar gun.
I know that Gee has supporters who think he might be the next Bobby Jones. I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat, but I'm a little skeptical. Keep in mind that Gee's numbers in Buffalo last season were much less gaudy than in his short time in New York. In 161 innings, he had a 4.96 ERA, allowed more than a hit per inning and allowed 23 home runs.
Still, if he is indeed the next Jones, he'll have more than enough opportunity to prove that in New York this summer. And there is no doubt that he has earned that chance.