We still have about 45 days before pitchers and catchers report — the time when hope springs eternal — yet there is a general panic among Mets fans because of Omar Minaya’s “lack of action” in the postseason.
We were spoiled by the previous two offseasons, in which we garnered the likes of Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, and Paul LoDuca — all major impact players. Since October 2006, we’ve added just one hopefully impactful body: Moises Alou. Not nearly the same excitement, huh?
What happened to Barry Zito? Alfonso Soriano? Carlos Lee? Or at least Freddy Garcia? Where’s the splash, Omar?
Let’s put this into perspective.
First, the Mets didn’t need a big splash this offseason. We’re not coming off an Art Howe-led sub-.500 season. We’re not coming off a year where our hopes were pinned to young hopefuls such as Ty Wigginton and Timo Perez. Rather, Omar is looking to add just the right pieces to a fairly well-put-together juggernaut that came within one swing of the bat of going to the World Series.
Say what you want about the Mets’ starting rotation — but it has more potential right now than it did this time last year. And last year we ran away with the NL East.
If your memory is weak … this time last year we were looking at a starting rotation of Pedro, a Tom Glavine coming off an inconsistent year, Victor Zambrano, Steve Trachsel coming off back surgery, and the eternal prodigy Kris Benson. A few days from now, Jae Seo would be traded for some run of the mill middle relievers that the Dodgers didn’t want (Steve Schmoll, Duaner Sanchez), and before the end of January Kris Benson would be gone too (for another enigma, Jorge Julio, and some non-prospect named John Maine) leaving the #5 spot open for competition between Aaron Heilman, Jose Lima, and a Korean import named Dae Sung Koo (Brian Bannister was on no one’s radar until midway through spring training).
After making big splashes with the Wagner signing and the trades with the Marlins, Minaya seemed to be making a few last tweaks to bolster the bullpen depth. His rotation looked fine to him despite Pedro’s annual health issues, Glavine’s seeming demise, and Trachsel’s back.
Take another look:
1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tom Glavine
3. Victor Zambrano
4. Steve Trachsel
5. Heilman, Koo, or Lima
Remember again that the world was wondering whether Tom Glavine was becoming an overaged, very hittable, .500 pitcher.
Also, Mike Pelfrey was nothing more than a consideration for AA. Philip Humber was still in physical therapy after Tommy John surgery. John Maine was an unknown throw-in, presumably acquired to fill out the Norfolk Tides’ roster. Brian Bannister was a non-prospect. Oliver Perez was the ace of the Pirates’ staff, and had to shoulder a heavier load because #3 starter Dave Williams had been traded to the Reds for Sean Casey. Jason Vargas was being touted as a possible top-of-the-rotation starter for the Marlins, after a short, but impressive 2005 debut.
What a difference a year makes !
Looking from the above perspective, did Omar really need to make a big splash again?
He may still … remember, the deals that brought John Maine, Jorge Julio, and Duaner Sanchez occurred after the first of the year. At the time, though, they didn’t seem like splashes. Once again, we may not hear the splash until after the season starts, when, say, Jon Adkins, Ambiorix Burgos or Jason Standridge are pitching lights out from the bullpen, or Ben Johnson is hitting towering homeruns, or another player from a soon-to-come, seemingly small deal emerges. Or maybe, the splash will be the result of a NON-move — like Mike Pelfrey becoming the Justin Verlander of 2007, or Oliver Perez returning to his 2004 form, or Aaron Heilman taking a rotation spot and showing why the former Notre Dame star was a two-time first-round draft pick.
Before you start wondering when Omar Minaya is going to make the big splash, consider last offseason, and understand that the splash may have already happened — we just didn’t hear it yet.