Starting Rotation: Use a Pencil

We’re all concerned about the Mets’ starting rotation right now. However, it’s still more than a month before pitchers and catchers report.

On January 3rd, 2006, the Mets’ “penciled in” , or “projected” rotation looked like this:

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tom Glavine
3. Kris Benson
4. Jae Seo
5. Victor Zambrano or Steve Trachsel

By the time pitchers and catchers reported in 2006, it looked like this:

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tom Glavine
3. Victor Zambrano
4. Steve Trachsel
5. Aaron Heilman

That’s a big change in a little over a month’s time, eh?

Now let’s look at what the rotation WAS by the time spring training broke and the boys went north:

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tom Glavine
3. Victor Zambrano
4. Steve Trachsel
5. Brian Bannister

Hey, where did Bannister come from?

Even that rotation didn’t last very long … by the first week of May, Bannister and Zambrano were gone for the season.s People like Jeremi Gonzalez, Jose Lima, and Alay Soler were making starts — and not just “spot” starts, they were IN the rotation. And we all know that when the NLCS closed, the only one left standing was Glavine.

The point is that in 2006 the Mets’ rotation was in a state of constant flux — there were points in the season when even Willie Randolph wasn’t sure who was starting until hours before game time. Yet, the Mets still managed to blow away the rest of the NL.

On January 3rd last year, the rotation looked very stable, and solid, if unspectacular. We were counting on Benson to be one of the best #3s in the NL, Seo to continue developing as a good #4, and hoping that Trax could come back healthy from his back surgery and be an innings eater. We also hoped against hope that Zambrano and Peterson would finally spend those ten minutes together, and VZ would emerge as the biggest surprise on the staff — perhaps knocking Trax or Seo out of town.

Looking back, could things have turned out any differently?

This year, we’re focusing on Ollie Perez, John Maine, and Dave Williams to fill out the back end. We’re hoping Phil Humber or Mike Pelfrey will pull a Justin Verlander and grab a spot.

But for all we know, Jason Vargas might emerge as a bonafide candidate. Aaron Heilman might finally get his shot to start. David Cone could come out of retirement again. Heck, Blake McGinley could pull a Brian Bannister and come out of nowhere. Or Adam Bostick could be this year’s John Maine.

So, while you’re spending your January days writing down the “projected” rotation for 2007, make sure you’re using a pencil (or erasable ink). How things look today could be very, very different by February 15th, Opening Day, the All-Star break, and, hopefully, postseason time.

In other words, no need to panic. While we wait to see how the Mets’ 2007 starting rotation evolves, do as Vin Scully says: pull up a chair … we’re going to be here a while.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. January 12, 2008 at 4:52 am
    Digital Photography…

    good stuff…