In The Journal News this morning, Mets manager Willie Randolph said he wasn’t worried, that there is a lot of time left. I also touched on some of the roster scenarios.
Considering they’ve won only six games, are you worried? Or at least concerned?
Mets have ‘a long way to go’
By JOHN DELCOS
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: March 20, 2007)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Willie Randolph moved from his desk and placed his hand on the Mets’ spring training schedule tacked to a bulletin board.
“No, not concerned at all,” the Mets’ manager said when asked his thoughts on how the defending National League East champions have played this spring.
Randolph’s index finger pointed to the bottom of the schedule.
“These last 10 days will tell us a lot. There’s plenty of time left. I don’t put a whole lot of stock into wins and losses in spring training. We have a long way to go.”
The Mets opened spring training with three significant questions and all still need to be answers: who is the fifth starter; who will round out the bullpen; and will they solidify the bench?
The final picture will become more clear this week, but won’t be in total focus.
“It will be the last four, five days,” Randolph said. “Nothing has been decided.”
There were seven candidates for the fifth-starter job at the start of camp, but it’s down to two: Mike Pelfrey and Chan Ho Park.
Aaron Sele has not pitched well; Jorge Sosa is a better fit as the long man in the bullpen; Jason Vargas and Phil Humber were already optioned; and Alay Soler was released.
Pelfrey has outpitched Park, but several times this spring Randolph emphasized it isn’t all about results.
Yesterday, he said it again.
And it doesn’t have to be Pelfrey or Park. It could be both.
“There are a lot of things to consider,” Randolph said. “There’s options. There are guaranteed contracts. There are injuries. Right now, it’s all speculation.”
So, let’s speculate.
The fifth starter won’t be needed until April 15, the season’s 12th game.
The Mets don’t want Pelfrey to sit for two weeks, so the path of least resistance would be to send him to the minors, where he would get regular work to stay sharp for Washington at Shea.
“This isn’t about what’s best for just the fifth starter,” pitching coach Rick Peterson said. “You have to look at the big picture. You have to look at it as what is best for the team.”
The Mets could option Pelfrey and keep Park, who could also be used in long relief if needed. Another scenario would be to keep both and open the season with Orlando Hernandez on the disabled list.
Hernandez was set back at the start of camp with arthritis in his neck, and Sunday’s start against St. Louis was his second of the spring, third if you count a simulated game last Tuesday.
When asked how close he was to being ready to start the season, Hernandez said Sunday: “I don’t know.”
And, his answer had nothing to do with the cramp in his right hamstring. Two extra weeks in extended spring training would accomplish the following: allow Hernandez extra work in Florida’s warmth rather than the chill of the north; give Pelfrey innings; and enable the Mets to carry a deeper bench at the start, which means both Ben Johnson and David Newhan.
When the Mets get into the swing of the season, they figure to carry five starters with a seven-deep bullpen. As of now, Billy Wagner, Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano are the givens.
Sosa figures to get the fifth spot as the long reliever, leaving Juan Padilla, Jon Adkins, Joe Smith and Ambiorix Burgos competing for the two remaining spots.
Seven relievers are logical considering Tom Glavine and Hernandez are six-inning starters, which means the bullpen has to be penciled in for three innings when each guy pitches.
Currently, the Mets are expected to carry two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders.
If the Mets carry Damion Easley and Julio Franco as their fifth and sixth infielders and Endy Chavez as their fourth outfielder, the final roster spot could come down between Johnson and Newhan.
Johnson can play anywhere in the outfield with power potential off the bench; Newhan hits left-handed and can play the infield and outfield corners.
“It’s not just one thing,” Randolph said. “You have to look at what each player can do, and you have to look at what the team needs at the time.”