Spring Training Pre-Predictions
Last year, right before Opening Day, I made some predictions about the 2006 season. Some were close to right on, some were completely off the mark, on the whole I was far from making people forget Nostradamus, or the local weatherman, for that matter.
But, predictions are fun for me to write, and fun for you to throw back in my face sometime in the future. So here I go with some pre-predictions … my predictions of what will happen in Mets’ spring training 2007…
1. John Maine will develop a split-finger fastball, add it to his repertoire, and as a result enjoy the strongest spring of all Mets’ starters — thereby earning the #3 spot behind Tom Glavine and El Duque.
2. Oliver Perez will continue his inconsistent ways, but show enough to earn the fourth spot in the rotation.
3. The identity of the fifth starter will remain a mystery on Opening Day. Jason Vargas is the frontrunner, but Chan Ho Park shows enough to be of value as a long man and/or trade bait. Vargas is sent to AAA for a few more starts while the Mets continue to weigh their options, as a fifth starter won’t be needed until mid-April.
4. Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber both impress, but also prove to need more seasoning. The emergence of Perez, Vargas, and Park paves their way to New Orleans.
5. Both Juan Padilla and Ambiorix Burgos make the Mets roster by the skin of their teeth, as the Mets choose to carry 12 pitchers. Jon Adkins and Jorge Sosa are DFA’d.
6. Lastings Milledge belts a few home runs, but bats only .250 and struggles on defense, prompting assignment to New Orleans.
7. David Newhan becomes a favorite of Willie Randolph, for his sparkplug play and versatility. His hustling and contact hitting earn him the 25th spot on the roster as the Mets’ utilityman.
8. Ben Johnson and Damion Easley also impress Randolph, though he’ll have to cut one or the other. Johnson looks like the odd man out when Easley is used in the outfield in the last games of spring training, and looks capable.
9. Just days before Opening Day, the decision becomes unnecessary when Julio Franco abruptly announces his retirement as a player — but stays on as a coach.
10. Easley sprains his ankle chasing a foul fly ball in left field and is placed on the 15-day DL. Johnson makes the team and Franco is reinstated to the roster as a player.