Mar 28, 2007 05:11 PM
Just a couple of more days until the season starts, and the Mets still seem to have plenty to figure out after they tied the club record for most losses in spring training today. Duaner Sanchez is sidelined for at least a couple of months and after what amounts to about a year off, will he even be as good as he was at the beginning of last year? Will Heilman still be able to be good this year with his starting ambitions and his tendonitis? How long does Shawn Green get before he gets benched for Milledge, and is Milledge ready to be a major-league contributor? What about Jose Valentine and second base? Can Anderson Hernandez learn to hit major league pitching well enough to take his job if he struggles? The starting rotation is either old or mostly untested, which leaves one question. Is this going to keep the Mets from getting to the World Series, where both the organization and fans expect them to be?
I believe that it won’t keep them from it. Spring training games mean nothing, and the players know this. The beginning of the season is full of motivating to get pumped and get into the game. First they open the season by watching the Cardinals ceremony, reminding them of their failure last year, and I’m sure the reporters there that day won’t be hesitant to ask them about it. The next series, on Friday, is Atlanta’s home opener. While none of the current Mets really have connections to the Mets struggles at Turner Field and with the Braves, they’re still a division rival who wants their title as Champions of the East back. If that wasn’t enough they come home Monday to play the home opener in front of 55 thousand fans whose last glimpse of the Mets was watching Wainwright’s pitch go past Beltran for strike three. They open against the Phillies who many people have picked to win the division this year, Shortstop Jimmy Rollins included.
The Mets have enough offense to get some runs produced, plenty of speed, and good defense in most positions. While everyone points to the Mets rotation as the weak point of the team, they do it from a pessimistic standpoint. Who’s to say John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Mike Pelfrey aren’t going to be good this year? These statements aren’t made out of recent history, as there is very little of it, and most of it’s good. John Maine and Perez pitched well last year, and came through when they were needed in the playoffs. Despite being decimated by injuries, it wasn’t the Mets starting pitching that kept them from the World Series last year.
There were many candidates for the 5th starting spot in spring, and while most of them didn’t pitch so well, it is only spring. Pelfrey will get his shot by mid-April and if he doesn’t succeed, chances are one of these other guys has been pitching well in New Orleans and can come up and pitch.
Omar Minaya shouldn’t be forgotten either. It’s perfectly legitimate to expect that he could make some moves and bring in help where it’s needed mid-season. However, without having to even do anything, the Mets will bring in a top, Hall of Fame destined pitcher around the trade deadline in Pedro Martinez. Is anyone else involved in a playoff run at the time going to be able to do as much to improve the rotation?