Archive: April 2nd, 2007

Free Relief Pitching Options

It appears that the Mets are going to wing it with a combination of Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith, and possibly Ambiorix Burgos to back up Aaron Heilman in the setup / 8th-inning role — at least until Guillermo Mota returns.

However, Omar is no doubt on the phone looking to make a deal, and checking the waiver wire for last-minute releases.

Some intriguing possibilties include:

– Scott Strickland, waived by the Padres

– Dustin Hermanson, who after a poor spring lost an attempt to win the closer’s job for the Cincinnati Reds, and requested a release rather than demotion to the minors

– Todd Williams, who was sent down by the Baltimore Orioles, and for some reason has been on the Mets radar recently

– Ron Villone, who was released by the Yankees

– Dan Kolb, who was sent down to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates

– Ricardo Rincon, who was released by the St. Louis Cardinals

– Dan Miceli, released by the Devil Rays

– Felix Rodriguez, released by the Marlins

– Danny Graves, released by the Rockies

– Aaron Small, assigned to minor league camp by the Mariners

Chances are, none of the above arms are better than what the Mets already have in-house. Certainly, the return of Danny Graves is as likely as scheduling Lima Time. Villone and Rincon would be worth picking up if the Mets didn’t already have two LOOGYs in the ‘pen. However, if Strickland, Williams, Hermanson, or Kolb are willing to go to New Orleans, any of them could provide nice veteran depth in the event Joe Smith or Ambiorix Burgos fail miserably. Hermanson, in particular, might be a nice addition, assuming he’s completely healthy. He was able to pitch in eight games without any physical issues; the problem was that his performances were awful. Maybe he just needs a few more weeks to get back into the swing of things — he only pitched in six games in September last year.

Personally, I’m hoping Strickland is interested in re-joining the Mets and pitching in AAA. I always liked his bulldog demeanor.

In the meantime, we’ll cross our fingers that Smith, Burgos, etc., can hold the fort, until more munitions arrive in the form of Mota, Juan Padilla, and possibly Marcos Carvajal.


What to Do About Chan Ho Park

Though no official announcement has been made, it’s assumed that the conversion of Chan Ho Park to setup relief has been scrapped. That said, it’s further assumed that Park will take a spot in the New Orleans Zephyrs rotation, and supply depth in the likely event that one or more of the Mets’ current starting five go down with injuries / become ineffective.

The Zephyrs’ rotation projects like this:

1. Chan Ho Park
2. Jorge Sosa
3. Jason Vargas
4. Philip Humber
5. Adam Bostick

The order means nothing — for all we know Humber is the #1. We also don’t know for sure if Sosa will be a starter or a reliever; we only know he, like seemingly every other AAAA pitcher, prefers to start. The Zephyrs also have Blake McGinley, Willie Collazo, Jose Sanchez, Clint Nageotte, and Jose Santiago — among others — who could potentially start.

That’s a lot of depth, and includes both experienced MLBers, potential studs, and career minor leaguers.

The question is, is it worth hanging on to Park in the event, say, El Duque goes down?

If that happens early in the season — before mid-May — then yes, absolutely. However, if by mid-May, Humber and/or Vargas are pitching well, wouldn’t it make more sense to promote one of those young guns and see if they’re ready for prime time?

Remember that Park is not the only veteran option for the Mets in the event of an injury. They do still have Aaron Sele with the big club, and Jorge Sosa has had some success as a starter in the Majors. With the demand for pitching in MLB these days, Park could be valuable trade bait; Adam Rubin of the Daily News thinks Seattle might be a buyer.

Personally, I keep looking at Tampa Bay and their situation with Jorge Cantu; its become something of an obsession. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Jose Valentin at second base this year, but beyond? Anderson Hernandez? Ruben Gotay? How about a guy who’s already smoked 28 homers in a season in the Majors instead?

The Rays have officially demoted Cantu to the minors, and seem committed to B.J. Upton at second base. As everyone knows, their pitching is awful. Maybe a veteran like Park, packaged with a youngster such as Adam Bostick, could bring Cantu north. It’s worth the gamble; Cantu is still only 25 years old and has all the makings of the next Jeff Kent. And he may force the Rays’ hand, as their 2005 MVP already hinted that he won’t report to AAA. Which means, of course, the Mets wouldn’t trade for him to send him to New Orleans; someone else on the MLB roster would have to be moved. Damion Easley would be the obvious, but he seems to be part of that “great guy in the clubhouse” click that is immune from movement.

Looking at it realistically, the Mets likely wouldn’t want to make such a major disruption to the currently happy and successful clubhouse. But from a logical standpoint, it sure would be a lot nicer to have Jorge Cantu on the roster — and primed to be the second baseman of the future — than keep Easley around.

Food for thought …