"Ouch, my foot." -AchillesYup, this is the part of the program everyone is dreading. It's the starting rotation, ladies and gentlemen. Otherwise known as: "Disaster in the Skies".
But is the Mets starting rotation really the disaster that everyone thinks it is? Check out the ERA's from the spring:
- Tom Glavine: 1.29 in 14 innings.
- Mike Pelfrey: 1.29 in 14 innings.
- John Maine: 1.00 in 9 innings.
- Oliver Perez: 2.70 in 20 innings.
And keep in mind with Perez that four of the six runs he's given up game in the first game of the spring against the Tigers. Since then, he's struck out Big Papi and his grilling buddy twice each in a game, and has 15 K's overall in the spring. Not bad for someone who started out the spring by drilling a Sports Illustrated reporter in the leg. Also keep in mind that John Maine pitched shutout ball in a playoff game while facing elimination, yet questions surround him. Something tells me that if Maine wore Yankee pinstripes, he's have a Yankeeography already...but that's just me.
So that leaves one more spot to analyze, and don't automatically pencil in 35 starts for Orlando Hernandez. Many, including myself, assumed out of hand that the Mets signing of guys like Chan Ho Park and Aaron Sele were for the bottom of the rotation. But the bottom of the rotation isn't the problem. For all the crap you hear about the Mets rotation problems, ask baseball GM's if they would like to have Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez at 3-4-5. Ask the Nationals. Ask the Rangers. Hell, ask the Cardinals if they would rather have Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez rather than Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, and Braden Looper (bold AND italicized for added effect).
It's the one-two punch that's the problem. The Mets tried to rectify that with Barry Zito. Didn't happen. So Tom Glavine is going to have to gut it out one more season as the ace. It's dicey yet possible. But with Orlando Hernandez and his myriad of injuries (Arthritis? ARTHRITIS??!?) and his mystery age hanging over him, Park and Sele become insurance for Hernandez and nobody else. And the Mets could really use either Park (8.68 ERA this spring) and/or Sele (6.11 ERA after a strong Thursday outing against Atlanta) to step up and take that Hernandez's spot, because in my humble "Monday Morning Quarterback" type estimation, the Mets are a better team with Hernandez as a long man out of the 'pen and not the number two guy in the rotation.
Yeah, I said it. He pitches this afternoon against the Cards and may change my mind (and as of now, he's given up one run in 5 and 2/3 innings so...mea culpa mea culpa mea culpa in that regard). But I heard (or read) somebody say it best: Orlando is going to get bombed every third start, and be spectacular every third start. It's the other third that will tell his season. Well, that's fine...but not for a number two starter.
So what is to be done going forward this season? Let's start here: As far as I'm concerned: Pedro Martinez is out for 2007. It's not because I dislike Petey...it's not because I don't want him back. It's because these Mets (and Met fans alike), can't hang even one hope on the return of Pedro Martinez...and especially on the return of Pedro Martinez to the form that we come to expect from Pedro, whether it be vintage 1999 or 2000 or even 2005. I want whatever Pedro does to be a bonus, almost like he would be the Mets trade acquisition in August and September.
Otherwise, the closest thing to a realistic acquisition for the top of the rotation would be Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, who is in his contract year. The Mets might also talk to Jamey Wright if the Rangers don't have him on their 40 man roster by March 28th. But is Wright any better than anyone who is already at the back of the Mets rotation? Probably not. And that's why we shouldn't worry all that much. Because gone are the days of having to sign the Jose Limas and the Geremi Gonzalez's of the world now that guys like Maine and Perez are settling in, and that Pelfrey has shown that he's ready for the majors. Heck, if we're really lucky (and if we're all good little boys and girls), then the minor league fairy might deliver Philip Humber under our pillows on a humid night in July. But I'm considering that a Pedro-like longshot for the sake of my own sanity.