Pitching Staff Update

Do the Mets really need pitching? Omar Minaya doesn’t seem to think so. Maybe he’s right … perhaps Matt Wise, Steven Register and Brian Stokes were the only additions this team needed to fortify the pitching staff for 2008. Of course, there’s still about a month and a half before spring training — plenty of time to sign up a Jose Lima or Chan Ho Park.

But if spring training began today, this is what the list of arms might look like …


Pedro Martinez
Orlando Hernandez
John Maine
Oliver Perez
Mike Pelfrey
Philip Humber
Kevin Mulvey
Adam Bostick


Billy Wagner
Aaron Heilman
Pedro Feliciano
Scott Schoeneweis
Matt Wise
Jorge Sosa
Joe Smith
Brian Stokes
Willie Collazo
Carlos Muniz
Steven Register
Steve Schmoll

Question Marks (injury)

Duaner Sanchez
Juan Padilla
Jason Vargas


Eddie Kunz
Brant Rustich

Out for the Year

Ambiorix Burgos

Quick Review

Going over the above list, things don’t look all that bad. OK, maybe they do. For instance, there are four very shaky candidates for the #5 spot in the starting rotation, and if you add up all of their combined MLB experience there’s barely 100 innings. That might not be such a big problem if Orlando Hernandez weren’t 147 years old and almost certain to spend at least two stints on the DL. On the one hand, I’m all for giving a shot to the kids. On the other hand, it’s imperative to have depth, particularly when you know one of your guys is bound to go down. For example, what happens if Maine or Perez suffers an injury during the season? Who is next on the totem pole? There needs to be at least another arm or two — ideally someone with MLB experience — saved for a “rainy day”. Personally, I think it would be extremely irresponsible of the Mets not to either move one of the relievers (Heilman, Sosa) into a starting role or sign at least one or two starting pitchers with MLB experience — even if it is someone as awful as Byung-Hyun Kim or Josh Fogg. The kids have promise, and should get their chance, but there has to be a backup plan in place.

As for the bullpen, there are a lot of names but an equally large number of question marks. Whether Duaner Sanchez can come back healthy AND return to form is the biggest question of all — and everything flows from there. In a perfect world, Heilman and Sanchez will handle the eighth innings of games, Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith will have an entire year like the first half of 2007, and Matt Wise and Scott Schoeneweis will both pitch like it’s 2005. The reality may not be so rosy. Even if all six of those pitchers pitch to their capability, it’s still not enough arms to get through a 162-game season of contests started by 5- and 6-inning pitchers. So the questions continue. Will Jorge Sosa continue to be a perpetual enigma? Can Carlos Muniz or Willie Collazo be more than AAAA pitchers? Is Brian Stokes any better than Jon Adkins? Can Steven Register make the team? Will Brant Rustich or Eddie Kunz pull a Joe Smith? What happens if the answers to all of those questions are “no” — a distinct possibility?

Again, it appears to me that the Mets need more depth — preferably another arm or two with MLB experience. Someone along the lines of Octavio Dotel would be most welcome — the problem is, after Dotel, there aren’t many others available “along those lines”. Shawn Chacon or Brett Tomko might be the next-best pitchers available, and then you’re getting into Aaron Sele / Scott Schoeneweis territory — guys who will command MLB contracts, and likely won’t be shuffled between AAA and the bigs. But if they can’t get a Dotel, that’s exactly what the Mets need — a few Heath Bells, who can go up and down throughout the course of a season. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of those types available. Register would be a candidate, but he was a Rule 5 draftee and therefore can’t be sent down (without losing him). That leaves Stokes, Muniz, Collazo, and perhaps Schmoll — a group that could use a little help. Maybe Jorge Julio or Brendan Donnelly would be willing to sign up for such a role; otherwise there are guys like T.J. Beam, Chris Reitsma, and Brian Moehler still out there — not exactly promising, huh?

Right now, the pitching looks so-so, and vulnerably thin. Let’s hope Omar Minaya is working diligently to fortify the troops — or it could be another disappointing season.

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. whatdatmean December 27, 2007 at 3:55 pm
    Totally agree that we are 1-2 players away from being secure. We have a good team, but need atleast 1 more arm to take the pressure off.
    IMO…the Mets should make 3 additions.
    1-Dotel or Otsuka-to fortify the bullpen in case Sanchez is not ready, which pictures indicate he isnt
    2-Clement or Jennings-let them compete for the 4/5 spot
    3-Garcia-looking at next year
    Show, sosa, feliciano, wise, heilman, wags is a nice 6. still need 1 more, and sosa is the emergency SP, so we need 1 more RP in case sanchez isnt ready, while calling up smith, muniz, etc to fill in from time to time. worst comes to worse, sosa &/or sanchez goes to AAA.
    Adding a SP adds security and experience to the back of the rotation. Pelfrey can compete for a spot or spot start as needed, rather than having to start.
    I still like the odds for this year. But I still think adding a sure arm in the BP is priority #1, bc it frees up sosa for spot starts as needed and provides some security
  2. joe December 27, 2007 at 4:16 pm
    I’m really leery about Otsuka’s health … for the Rangers to let him go he must have a serious issue. Not that Dotel is exactly a picture of health either — but the buzz is that Otsuka could need reconstructive elbow surgery. Pitchers who put off surgery scare me, particularly when their performance is already going downhill.

    Shawn Chacon might be a nice pickup for the old Darren Oliver role. He and Sosa could have similar roles, used in all types of long and middle relief as well as spot starting. The key, of course, is to remind Willie Randolph that they’re out there in the ‘pen, lest they rot like Aaron Sele.

  3. whatdatmean December 28, 2007 at 7:52 am
    Chacon may be just what the Dr ordered for the Mets. We need a 1 yr, miracle cure on staff for what we went through last year. Sosa is one cure, chacon could be the other.
    No…dont want to see either for extended time, but if anyone goes down, we could use their experience to sub in.
    I know Omar was kicking the tires on Chacon. He has been doing well from the BP, but I think i heard that he is looking to start. If not….sign him up, if we are not getting Santana
    That whole if thing is starting to drive me nuts….I just want it to end. Get him, dont get him….just get it over. too much of what we need to do hinges if we get Santana or not.
    Otsuka would be nice because he has such upside…if he does need surgery, get him now and let him recover. The guy is good, and is on the cheap right now. He would be a great addition to stash away.