February 12, 2007

Mets Are Covering All The Bases

Tim Marchman at the New York Sun writes about the Mets and how all the concerns are completely overblown:

The first is that the Mets did not have a good rotation last year; the starters' ERA was 4.67, eighth in the league and an especially unimpressive figure for a team playing so many games in the pitcher's parks of the National League East. The second is that the Mets actually have plenty of good starters on hand.

If your standard is the 1986 Mets, this doesn't pass muster. If your standard is, as it should be, "good enough to win 95 games," this crew is fine. Glavine is an acceptable rotation anchor; Maine and Pelfrey look right now like league-average starters with decent chances to be a bit better than that; Perez looks like he could win a Cy Young, fall out of organized baseball, or putter along as a submediocrity, and Hernandez will probably pitch 120 or so decent innings before hurting something. With the likes of Humber and Park around, the club will have tolerable, woundstanching options should anyone not pitch well.

The rotation is at least as good as, and probably better than, what the Mets had last year, when they were the best team in the league. Perez doesn't have to win a Cy Young Award; he has to replace Martinez, who threw 132.2 innings with a 4.48 ERA last year. Pelfrey doesn't have to be Kevin Brown; if he can manage a 4.90 ERA in 164.2 innings, he'll be an improvement on Steve Trachsel.

What's impressive, though, is that this group, while perhaps not representing a sure improvement on last year's in terms of quality, represents a great improvement in terms of potential. If Maine, Perez, and Pelfrey all harness their stuff and master the intricacies of the game to their best abilities, the Mets will have a trio of cheap young starters to match any in the league, and a potent young core. That's likely not going to happen, but giving the ball to pitchers who won't pitch any worse than a Trachsel-type, but might pitch much better, is a very good idea. Is the potential for disaster there? Of course, it always is. In the Mets' case, they have the right pitchers showing up to camp tomorrow, they're not asking too much of them, and they have some backup plans. You can't ask for much more.

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