January 04, 2007

Minaya shouldn't panick

Steve Popper at MSG Network, writes about Omar Minaya and how he shouldn't make any irrational moves despite the failed attempts to bring an ace to the staff:

Time is a factor more than money. Last year, the Mets tossed 13 different starters on the mound. But there is no need to experiment with the likes Jose Lima this season. Last year, the Mets were desperate for time, needing to buy time while Brian Bannister was rehabbing and John Maine was refining his arsenal in the minors.

But to chase a Tomo Ohka, Jeff Weaver or Tony Armas Jr. - players who have proven themselves on the wrong side - just delays better options for the Mets this time around. This team is built to compete now - evidenced not only by the pair of 41-year-old starting pitchers on the front end of the rotation, but also by the aging Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez when he returns and 40-year-old Moises Alou.

The Mets have five starters to get them by - which is all they'd get from one of these second-level starters. Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez should be reliable enough up front. John Maine earned a chance with his performance in the second half of the season. After going 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA before the All-Star Break, Maine was 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA after the break, and put up a gem in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

Speaking of gems in the NLCS, Oliver Perez showed why Minaya has shown confidence in him with a Game 7 effort that was as good as they could have hoped for from a Zito or Matsuzaka.

Now, for the fifth spot, with Bannister dealt away, the Mets have a number of options and they all are better options than either tossing a marginal talent out there or dealing away talented chips like Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman for something less than a star. It's one thing to consider swapping out those pieces when you're discussing Roy Oswalt, but another altogether to be chasing Joe Blanton.

If Phil Humber or Mike Pelfrey is ready when the season starts, both players are top 10 picks and possess the ability to become a star - something that has passed Ohka and Armas Jr. by. The Mets aren't counting on either of these pitchers to be an ace now, simply to fill out the back end of a rotation with a batting order that provides a reasonable margin for error.

By the time that late-July or August rolls around, the Mets hope that Martinez will be ready to take his spot in the rotation and provide a third experienced option. Which makes the need for a veteran even less pronounced.

If the young guns, Humber and Pelfrey, are not ready when the bell rings in April, the Mets already have plenty of second-tier options in place. Alay Soler showed signs of being a capable starter last season. Dave Williams was reliable enough to project him into the Darren Oliver role. And the Mets have high hopes for Jason Vargas, obtained from the Marlins.

For now, the best option left on the free agent market might be 15-game winner Steve Trachsel. And if he's the best option, you know that the Mets should just stay put.

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