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.