Rose-colored Glasses

Omar Minaya danced around discussed several subjects during his recent appearance on SNY, attempting to paint a positive picture of the 2010 Mets.

One issue in particular that struck me as disconcerting was his evaulation of the current Mets’ pitching staff.

Kevin Burkhardt pointed out the various question marks on the staff, nearly all of which are related to injuries. Minaya’s response was

“Kevin, every team will enter the season with question marks … there are always a lot of question marks with pitching.”

True enough, but no pennant-contending team has as many question marks as the Mets do when it comes to the pitching staff. They have no less than five starting pitchers coming off season-ending surgeries and two pie-in-the-sky candidates for the setup role. The fact that the Mets are hoping that many injured arms come back healthy is enough of a concern, but to me what is more worrisome is that Minaya believes a healthy Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, and Oliver Perez are good enough to comprise a playoff-bound club.

So not only is Minaya counting on everyone to come back 100% healthy, but he’s also expecting Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez to make great leaps forward in their performance as Major League hurlers.

With Pelfrey, I can understand optimism, since he is still relatively young (26) and can improve dramatically if he ever learns to command an offspeed pitch. Perez and Maine, though, are what they are — inconsistent pitchers with awful mechanics and concentration issues who won’t ever be more than average again. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Perez or Maine could once again win as many as 15 games IF they were under the guidance of a detail-oriented pitching coach — one who makes sound mechanics a priority, can teach / correct mechanical flaws, and implements focused, disciplined throwing programs. Someone like, uh, Rick Peterson — or perhaps Dave Duncan or Mike Maddux. Yes, Peterson rubbed a lot of veteran pitchers the wrong way, but he was a wizard when it came to clueless, mechanical distasters such as Maine, Perez, and Jorge Julio. Peterson had his failures (Victor Zambrano, Alay Soler), and is nowhere near the genius that is Dave Duncan, but his approach worked wonders with Maine and Perez specifically, as well as Pelfrey (it has always bugged me that Dan Warthen received credit for Pelfrey’s success in 2008, when he began his strong run while still under Peterson’s care).

Beyond the starting rotation, the bullpen is headed by a suddenly unreliable and velocity-losing K-Rod and a LOOGY (Pedro Feliciano). The rest of the relievers are … who? Kelvim Escobar, who has thrown 5 innings in the last two years and may not be as healthy as Duaner Sanchez was last April, is the next-best relief man. After Escobar is a wild splitter specialist from Japan named Ryota Iragashi (who has also seen his velocity decrease in recent years). Beyond that is fireballer Bobby Parnell — whose penchant for allowing baserunners recalled the days of the aforementioned Victor Zambrano — and sinkerballer Sean Green, who could most succintly be described as “underwhelming”.

Maybe I’m seeing the Mets’ pitching staff as a half-empty glass. But it’s clear that Omar Minaya sees the same personnel as half-full — and through rose-colored lenses. Most likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle. But unfortunately, somewhere in the middle is exactly where the pitchers will carry the Mets to in the final standings.

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. gary s. January 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm
    the entire starting staff is a question mark.we have a gm and manager that should have been fired, an owner who i can’t even find words to describe anymore and a ballpark that pays homage to every team in baseball but the mets.sounds like we are good to go..LET’S GO METS!!!!
  2. Paul January 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm
    Maybe the problem is with our expectations. After last year, I’ll take “average” and hope to build on that for 2011.

    It makes a certain amount of sense to give Pelfrey, Maine and Perez one more chance to improve rather than filling the rotation with more easily projectable guys like Jon Garland and Jason Marquis.

  3. gary s. January 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm
    paul, it’s more like a death wish to go with maine, perez and pelfrey in the rotation for another year.granted there were no guarantees with the likes of piniero, garland and marquis but for omar to say every team starts with question marks in pitching is very scary.Josh Fogg?? Than he signs a washed up tatis to play u think there is any team in baseball who wanted tatis, cora or gary matthews??omar got all three to be on the bench for the same team.
  4. sincekindergarten January 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm
    Gary, I’m wondering–if Omar could get either Erik Bedard or Chien-Ming Wang, would that be sufficient for you? And where in the rotation would you put him?

    I think that a fair number of pithcing woes that the Mets had last year can be traced to an unsteady defense behind the pitchers. The one constant that the Mets had was Luis Castillo–not exactly the kind of constant that the Mets pitching staff needed. He was at 2B for 137 or so games. How many grounders got through the infield, or how many medium-fast runners got to first base, because of Castillo (knees and arm)? Wasn’t Angel Pagan’s center field decision making sometimes suspect? With a decent middle defense (i.e., Reyes and Beltran) playing behind the pitcher, I’d hazard a guess and say that the Mets could have been at, or a game or so above, .500. Would that have been easier to swallow? No. But, the Wilpons could have been able to get a different read on this team in the offseason, and maybe they would have gone out and made a move or two that would have been bolder than the ones they’ve already made.

    If you’ve got Phillthy’s or Seattle’s 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, it doesn’t matter if you have someone with the range that I might be able to exhibit (at 45 years old) at 2B or SS. (Read–not much.) If your middle defense is good, it takes a certain amount of pressure off of the pitchers, does it not?