Mets Pitchers Gear Up in Florida While We Shovel Out
Baseball seems like the last thing we should think of as the snowstorm that is hitting Long Island has begun and green grass seems like months away. But down in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Mets are in the midst of full squad workouts and preparing for their first exhibition game on Wednesday, February 28. Hopefully by then, the fallen snow will be gone and we can start to dream of better days ahead.
Mets' manager Willie Randolph has a few decisions to make during spring training concerning his starting rotation. Two old guys (Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez) are penciled in for the top two spots, and a group of arms are competing for the remaining three.
Two pitchers that looked good in last season's playoff run, John Maine and Oliver Perez, should be able to sew up spots with good springs. Nothing is guaranteed, and Randolph has stated such. Just because they pitched well then does not mean they can feel confident now. They have to prove themselves here and show their manager that they were not 'flash in the pans.'
There are two arms even younger than Maine and Perez competing in Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber. Pelfrey pitched reasonably well in four starts last year, and Humber had a cup of coffee in the majors after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Rounding out the rest are veteran free agent signees Chan Ho Park, Jorge Sosa and Aaron Sele.
Park is an interesting player that is trying to recapture his successful days with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he had double-digit wins five consecutive seasons. He signed an expensive long-term free agent contract with the Texas Rangers in 2002 and has not been nearly as effective ever since. He was traded to the San Diego Padres during the 2005 season and went 7-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts in 2006. If he can give the Mets 12 to 10 wins, he can be a nice addition to the back of the rotation.
Sosa had a career year in 2005 with the Atlanta Braves when he won 13 games and lost only three. A year ago, he reverted back to the form he showed earlier in his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when he went 3-11 combined for Atlanta and St. Louis. A project? A reach? Maybe. But he will not be asked to carry the load and probably will be used as a long reliever and spot starter.
Sele is a well-traveled veteran right-hander who began his career with the Boston red Sox 14 years ago. He won 19 and 18 games in consecutive seasons for the Texas Rangers in 1998 and 1999. With the Dodgers last season, Sele was 8-6 with a 4.58 ERA.
Considering that Glavine is 41 and 'El Duque' is listed as 37 (and probably closer to 41 himself), Mets GM Omar Minaya hopes that there is power in numbers. Especially with Hernandez suffering arthritis in his neck recently and ace Pedro Martinez out until July or August recovering from shoulder surgery. If Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson can put together a capable staff out of the arms in camp, the Mets have a good chance to repeat as National League East division champs.