We don’t know for certain whether Steven Register was put on waivers, though there have been enough “inside sources” reporting it for us to believe it’s true (or not). We do know that Brian Stokes was stretched out for 65-pitches and four innings in a minor-league contest — presumably to test his mettle as a long reliever.
Excuse me for not understanding the fascination with Stokes, who had a 7.07 ERA last year, an ERA approaching double digits this spring, and doesn’t have particularly electric stuff. Believe me, I’m all for the underdog, but there were several more deserving underdogs in camp this year — i.e., Register, Nelson Figueroa, and Ricardo Rincon.
From what we’ve seen of El Duque thus far, it’s clear he won’t be starting the season with the big club. Likewise with Mike Pelfrey. That said, Jorge Sosa is the most logical candidate to temporarily fill the #5 spot in the rotation — which in turn opens up the long relief role for someone such as Figueroa. Figueroa, after all, has put up good numbers and looked good as far as command and changing speeds goes.
Similarly, Steven Register has outpitched Joe Smith and Stokes yet appears to be the odd man out. Another illogical move, if the waiver rumors are true — and I’m a huge fan of Smith. Why did the Mets bother to take him in the Rule 5 draft if they weren’t going to give him a legitimate shot at a bullpen spot? What did he have to do to win a job? Strike out two batters per inning? Throw 105 MPH? If he hasn’t been waived, or if he has, and clears, and the Mets work out a deal with the Rockies to keep him, then I’ll get off the Mets’ back on this issue.
Finally, there is Ricardo Rincon, whose numbers aren’t as sparkling as those of Scott Schoeneweis, but who has shown better stuff. I’m hoping against hope that the Mets are able to keep Rincon stashed in AAA for that moment they realize The Show’s straight-as-arrow, 85 MPH, chest-high fastball is not going to fool MLB hitters forever. Rincon’s ability to change speeds, hit spots all over the strike zone, and make his fastball sink are far superior to The Show’s limited arsenal. Yes, over eight or nine innings in March, Show has the numerical edge, but over the course of a 50-70-inning season, Rincon’s stuff projects to be better. A last-minute trade seems unlikely, so, again, hopefully the Mets can somehow retain Rincon.