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Springtime Storylines: Are the Mets going to be able to get anyone out?

Mar 31, 2010, 11:15 AM EDT

Between now and Opening Day, HBT will take a look at each of the 30
teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally
breaking down their chances for the 2010 season.  Next up: The Mets. Truthers, please queue up on the right; Self-hating Mets fans please queue up on the left.

big question: Are the Mets going to be able to get anyone out?

Johan Santana got pounded yesterday, but he’s Johan Santana so you know he’ll be OK.  Ollie Perez, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey have been pounded all spring and they don’t have any Johan Santananess about them to inspire similar optimism.  Make no bones about it: Mets fans should be worried about their rotation. The upside of their non-Santana starters is decidedly “meh” and there hasn’t been a lot of reason to bank on upside this spring. Maine is a health concern and his strikeout rates have gone down for three straight years. Perez was simply abused yesterday and has an 8.66 ERA this spring.

But it didn’t have to be this way. The Mets knew they had rotation problems that they needed to address way back in October, but they spent the winter doing just about nothing to improve matters.  Randy Wolf, Joel Pinero and any number of other available starters got nothing more than a sniff from Omar Minaya. We can talk about team health and PR and all of that, but the Mets’ biggest problem entering the season is borne of the front office’s utter failure to address the team’s biggest need: starting pitching.

But before anyone accuses me of simply being a hater, I’ll say that I like Jon Niese and think that he could be a perfectly decent major league starter this year. Perez, Pelfrey and Maine scare the bejesus out of me.

So what
else is
going on?

  • I think the offense will rebound this year. David Wright is too good to have another punchless season. The Mets “babying” him not withstanding, Jose Reyes will play games for the Mets very soon and will provide a nice upgrade over all of the non-Reyes shortstop options. Same goes for Carlos Beltran. Sure, the Mets only scored 671 runs last season, but that really wasn’t the Mets.
  • The injury story has been beaten to death, but the beatings have focused mostly on the issue of whether they were a function of horrible bad luck, organizational incompetence or some combination of both. What’s been less noted is just how poor Omar Minaya was at finding fill-ins for the injured players last season. Alex Cora is bad even for a backup, and bringing in guys like Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews don’t inspire a lot of confidence. If the injury bug bites this team again it will be an ugly summer in Queens.

  • I don’t like the idea of Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen to start the season. This is Joba part deux. He won’t get any chance to work on his secondary pitches in that role, and given the sorry state of the Mets starting pitching I have no idea why they would go out of their way to prevent the develop one that could be pretty spectacular.
  • If the Mets don’t contend — and I don’t think they will — I think it’s highly likely that both Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel will be canned, the Wilpons will talk about starting fresh and the Mets’ chances of competing in the near term will disappear.

So how
are they gonna do?

Contrary to the sheer amount of ink spent criticizing the Mets, they are not a horrible team (a horrible organization, maybe, which is a different thing). If they stay healthy they can be perfectly respectable. But I really can’t stress how little I like this rotation, and I think it will ultimately sink them.

Prediction: Fourth place in the NL East, though if things break just so they could easily pass the Marlins for third. I think there’s about zero chance that they’ll compete with the Braves and Phillies, though.

here for other Springtime Storylines

  1. enough already - Mar 31, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    At this point I’m just commenting because I feel like I’m expected to. And nobody else has actually called you a hater today. Yeah, you’re right, the rotation is a bit iffy. But I haven’t given up on Pelfrey or Maine. I also don’t think Ollie will stick around long if he doesn’t get his act together. As for the rest, this team was picked to win it all last year and hung around with the “elite” Phillies for a hell of a long time after most of the players had gone down to injury. I’m not saying that they’re going to win the division. I’m just saying it’s nice to be an underdog.

  2. YANKEES1996 - Mar 31, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    The Mets rotation and starting pitching was being debated on this blog over the winter and contrary to the wishes of Mets fans the rotation is not very good! Once again I see this as a failing of Omar Minaya and the upper management they had a good chance to bolster their rotation and they did nothing. This type of problem happened across town a few years ago Omar were you not paying attention? If they stay away from injury they could have a good year not great (because of lack of pitching), if injuries start to show up there could be serious anger issues in Queens. I don’t know if the Wilpon family will fire Omar or not if the Mets have a bad year, afterall he has survived all his other crummy decisions.

  3. BC - Mar 31, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    OK, if they just dump Ollie, admit the mistake and sign Washburn, that’s an improvement. I like Maine assuming he’s healthy. Pelfrey is a head case. Bullpen is a wreck other than K-Rod. So, there’s a big pitching problem. Unless Reyes stays healthy (see no evidence that he will), Beltran comes back by May 1 (ditto), and Wright’s power stroke gets fixed (ditto ditto), they’re not going to score much more than 700-720 runs.
    I actually think that unless the offense comes around and they make a move for a pitcher, that they’ll be pushed by the Nationals for last place. I’d say anywhere from 72 to 82 wins depending on how it goes. It’d be a miracle if they were higher than 82.

  4. YankeesfanLen - Mar 31, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    It’s kind of depressing spending the summer without a good back-and-forth with my Mets fan friends. Emptahy, sympathy keeps me from any intelligent discourse. The last time I enjoyed the Subway Series was 6/12/09. This used to happen frequently, and on a global basis, with Omar doing nothing, it will continue.
    Where was talk of at least Lackey?
    Ah, but no worries on this side of the river except for the dearth of anything provincial to tease about.

  5. Benny Blanco - Mar 31, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    We are all in agreement the pitching could be better, much better. But the staff isnt as bad as all the Met haters wants them to be. I could be eating my words shortly but the potential for Pelfrey and Maine to have solid years is there. As for offense, you have to think that most pitchers aren’t looking forward to facing this lineup. Anyone remember when Steve Trachsel won over 10 games in a row a few summers ago purely on the scoring ability of the offense. Why cant Pelfrey have the same luck?
    I’m not saying they’ll make the playoffs but unlike many other Met fans (BC), im trying to stay positive. Its a tough division but each team has issues. Quick example, who likes the Phillies bullpen? I mean c’mon, Pelfrey is a headcase but Brad Lidge is what? Mr. confidence?

  6. Joey B - Mar 31, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Not sure where the negativity is coming from. Their projected starting five have ST ERAs of 7.97, 8.66, 6.75, 5.65, and 7.94.
    In all fairness, however, Santana’s ERA should improve. The other four we don’t know about.
    Still, while it’s hard to see them playing .500, the kids have played well. Mejia, Tejeda, Davis, FMart have played extremely well.

  7. YankeesfanLen - Mar 31, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    This is all we have to say about the Metropolitans? Now I know why a Jeter or ARod (leave him alone) story gets so many hits.
    Now you know your demographics, Craig. Let’s go Jason we’re takin’ over.

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