November 30, 2007

Are The Pitching Answers We Seek Already In-House?

Ahhhh...the Winter Meetings are almost here, a mere 3 days away, and the names that are bouncing around the ears of Mets' fans have been steadfast - Santana, Haren, Santana, Blanton, Santana, Bedard...with whisps of Livan Hernandez and Carlos Silva fluttering around as well.

The names supposedly on the way out - Gomez, Pelfrey, Humber, Mulvey, Guerra, Martinez and Heilman...all minor leaguers (essentially) except Heilman, the cream of the crop of the Mets' much-maligned core of young talent. It may be true that some, or even many, of these youngsters are over-valued by both the team and fans, and goodness knows this wouldn't be the first time (see: Wilson, Paul, Jeffries, Gregg, and Escobar, Alex, to name but a few). However, while we have a rotation problem, having lost 200 innings when Tom Glavine re-signed with the Braves, there ARE some potential, in-house fixes to this situation, if we cannot acquire a top-tier starter.

First of all, it's about time that the Mets give reliever Aaron Heilman another shot at joining the rotation. He has a handful of pitches, possesses above-average velocity, and desperately wants to start. He had a rocky first attempt, but that also included a few games that were breath-taking, such as the complete game, one-hitter versus the Marlins in 2005. His place in the bullpen, hopefully, will be filled by the returning Duaner Sanchez, which leads us to the second spoke of our plan...

Have Mike Pelfrey become a 7th or 8th inning specialist, and put Phil Humber into long relief. Pelfrey has only mastered 2 pitches, and relies far too much on his fastball to be a consistent starter. He could eventually spell Billy Wagner in a few years, if Dylan Owen doesn't get there first, and an inning or two of Pelfrey at his best would be great in front of either Sanchez (if healthy) or Wagner. This would also give Humber a chance to stretch out his arm, as he's still recovering from Tommy John-surgery, and he'd get enough innings in from middle relief, in addition to spot-starting, to prepare him for a potential spot in the rotation in 2009.

Finally, give Kevin Mulvey a shot at joining the rotation in Spring Training. Every so-called expert has recently annointed Mulvey as the prospect closest to being ready to start at the major league level - wouldn't it be great if it were true, and he could slot in as the fifth starter while keeping Heilman, Pelfrey and Humber all in the bullpen? It would also mean that we wouldn't have to trade Gomez or Martinez. Unfortunately, Bedard, Santana and Haren, if they're going to be traded, will have been long gone by the spring, making Mulvey's opportunity the longest of long-shots. Stranger things HAVE happened, though, and if Beane decides to hold onto his starters, the Orioles decide to do likewise, and the Yankees, as expected, grab Santana, this may just be the scenario we find ourselves looking at come February.

NOTES: First of all, a quick update on my dad- he's doing MUCH better, and I had an opportunity to fly home to NY twice in the span of 3 weeks to be with him. We almost lost him twice, as complications from the kidney transplant let a terrible bacteria run wild in his now-removed colon (NOT Bartolo), but he's got the huge heart any Brooklyn-born Mets' fan has to have, and he came through three dangerous surgeries with flying colors! Thanks for all of the good wishes- they really helped! He's fast on the road to recovery, and I knew he was getting better whenever I'd quiz him on the sports transactions of the day and he'd remember everything! We're gonna have a LOT more Opening Days together, dad, along with my brother and my nephew, the newest in our long line of crazed Mets' fans!!! My new refrain is "Let's Go Dad!!! Let's Go Mets!!!"

Second, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!! It's been amazing (all pun intended) to think that two years ago, two little blogs began with the single hope of offering some news and views to other crazed Mets' fans, and now we have thousands and thousands of fans all around the country! I am thankful to all of you for your comments and thoughts, for reading our comments and news, and for rooting for our beloved Mets! Without you, our readers, we'd be a LOT lonelier, and without you, the Mets would play to empty stadiums! Let's hope 2008 is a MUCH more fulfilling year, for ALL of us!!!!

Third, John Young pointed out something VERY interesting earlier today during one of our phone chats- about mid-way through the season, Johan Santana began neglecting his slider, allowing a lot more gopher-balls then he ever has - in fact, he led the AL in homers given up last season. As John pointed out, when pitchers stop throwing their sliders, it's usually a sign that they are on the road to Tommy John surgery...could the Twins be holding back some medical info? Could Santana be afraid to level with them? Interesting thoughts...and it would serve the Yankees right, although we love watching Santana pitch (anywhere but in the Bronx!)

Fourth, don't be mad at Omar for trading Lastings yet - after remembering some of my favorite Mets' of the past 39 years, acquiring Schneider reminds me of the days when Jerry Grote led one of the best staffs in baseball. His game-calling, tough defense and ability to throw runners out more than made up for his average, at best, offense. We have to remember that the great Mets' teams have always had a combo of great pitching and great defense, especially behind the plate! If Schneider is as good at calling a game as he is purported to be, with Castro backing him up and a potent line-up from 1 to 7, this trade might end up benefitting us big-time in the short-term, until/if Mr. Pena ever realizes his potential. Remember that Omar has been tasked with winning NOW, not just in 3 or 5 years from now, and patience in the Wilpon's offices must be running thin, even though Omar is definitely their "guy"! I AM disappointed that Estrada won't be given the chance to attempt a return to his former all-star status with us- or WILL he? Will the Mets carry a third catcher this year, and use his (or Castro's) bat off the bench? We'll know soon enough, if the Mets' offer him arbitration. I'm not a Ryan Church fan, although John is, as he reminds me a lot of Kevin McReynolds, though not as talented. Maybe he's going to be packaged in another deal - we'll see!

Fifth, a thought came to me a little while ago - the Pirates want to rebuild, and they have supposedly put Outfielder (and former Met) Jason Bay on the block. What about a deal for Bay and either pitcher Ian Snell (righty) or Tom Gorzelanny (lefty), in exchange for Gomez, Heilman, Estrada (if they tender him), Church and Humber? The Pirates would have a catcher to platoon with starter Ronny Paulino, two pitchers to add to the rotation in Heilman and Humber, a potential star outfielder in Gomez to replace Bay in the future, and Church to replace him immediately. It would save the Bucs a LOT of money, allow them to get even younger, and give the Mets' a potential number one (Snell) or two (Gorzelanny) starter as well as an outfielder just entering his prime at 30, with something to prove after a down season last year. If we can't land a Haren or Bedard, or the price is prohibitive for Blanton, this might be a way to import an innings-eater with great potential, reasonably young (Snell is 26 and Gorzelanny is 25) and receive a great all-around outfielder, and recent all-star, to boot! More food for thought - which is what we all live for this time of year, no?

Finally, as promised a few weeks ago, we are going to pick a winner from our A-Rod contest (sorry for being late, but better late than never). Since he's already signed with the Yankees, we'd like to offer the winner the opportunity to write an entry, up to 2,000 words, about anything having to do with the Mets. The winners of this contest are (that's right - I said winnerS, not winner, as I liked what 3 people had to say: Daren, Ang and Jimmy!!!!!!! Simply send an email to this site, and let us know what you want to write about, and John and I will work out timing, editing, etc. Welcome, three new posters, and let's see what kind of writing chops you have!!!!

It's great to be back, and just in time for my second favorite season...

By the way - in the "it's never too early to plan" section, John, Jonathan and I are planning to attend the last week of Spring Training and to attend opening day in Florida versus the Marlins. We'll have additional info in the coming weeks, but save the dates if you are interested in joining us for some fun in the sun and some pre-season games in addition to the opener. We'll let you know more details in late December.



mick said...

Sorry but I disagree about Pelfrey. He can't handle New York. He can't handle the 7th or the 8th.

I do want to try Heilman as a starter but I think he is a head case too.

The best move the Mets can make is get rid of Peterson.

David Rubin & Jonathan Elfenbein said...

Michael, is that you???

I am beginning to agree about Peterson, as I am STILL waiting for that 15-minute fix on Zambrano!

Pelfrey may or may not be able to handle NY- but it's too soon to tell, and having him come in for the seventh or eigth inning might be more suitable to both his stuff and his make-up.

If you are not happy with Peterson, perhaps you shouldn't think that Heilman is a headcase. Why is that? Well, Peterson is the one who refuses to allow him to start, so is he really a head-case or is he just frustrated knowing that Rick is costing him millions of dollars?