Monday, March 20, 2006

Back In The Saddle With News & Views

Welcome back my friends to the "show" that never ends... okay, it's not what ELP had in mind, but it's late March, mere weeks away from the start of the season, and any time the word "show" is uttered, there's nothing else that comes to mind except the sound of an umpire shouting "batter up" - when it counts!! With that in mind, let's catch up on events of the past week, and see where we're headed as the season is finally upon us...

Brian Bannister is in, Aaron Heilman is out...Jose Lima has a shot, Victor Zambrano hasn't thrown enough innings...Steve Trachsel or Victor Zambrano will be traded for another top starter (according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox - FOX Sports - MLB- Bagwell's days appear to be numbered)...Aaron Heilman & Brian Bannister are in and Zambrano is going to the bullpen...okay, here's our take on it - If Lima is in our rotation, at any time, we are in trouble. Yes his wife is super hot, and yes, he's a snazzy dresser, and yes he is great in the clubhouse, but he is mercurial at best, inconsistent at worst, and is not the answer for us either short or long-term. Aaron Heilman has done everything asked of him, and Omar's entire offseason plan consisted of adding him to the rotation. Let's not risk pissing a young player off, and more importantly, let's give him a chance to start so we can begin planning for the future at the same time as we begin our run at the pennant. If he falters, he can swing back to the bullpen and at least he can't say he didn't receive a chance. Bannister, while extremely impressive in camp and as a person, and one of my favorite young pitchers in a long time, needs more seasoning and should spend at least a month or more in AAA to get additional seasoning against near-major league talent. Zambrano needs to get one more chance in the rotation, to see if Peterson can actually make good on his "15 minutes" promise or, failing that, let's cast him off and call the Kazmir trade a grand failure (again) and move on. Soler and Maine have already been demoted, and Iriki is a long-longshot for the rotation (but not for the pen), so as it stands, we are back to where we started- a rotation of Martinez, Glavine, Trachsel, Zambrano and Heilman. As the season progresses, we need to get consistency in the rotation, for as our starting pitching goes, so goes our playoff chances.

On opening day, the ageless wonder, Jesse Orosco, will throw out the first pitch to The Kid, Gary Carter, celebrating the last World Series Victors, our own '86 Mets. A DVD of the World Series is coming out soon, on March 28th, for around $63 (courtesy of It will be a 9-disc set, over 27 hours long, and besides the entire 7 game series, it will also include the entire game 6 playoff game vs. Houston, as well as TONS of features. I can't wait to relive this amazing time, and we'll all get a taste of it this year as the Mets organization seems to be taking great pains to honor the achievements of this amazing squad.

With the start of the season drawing near, the arms race to fill out the bullpen portion of our roster is down to a slow race with the many demotions of the past few days (including Steve Schmoll, Henry Owen, Matt Perisho, et al). Therefore, the final bullpen seems like it will consist of the following:

Billy Wagner
Juan Perez or Royce Ring or Pedro Feliciano
Duaner Sanchez
Chad Bradford
Heath Bell
Jorge Julio

Our AAA team is going to have a heck of a pitching staff, that's for sure. The Tides are going to be a lot of fun to watch this season, and in spite of what was printed prior to spring training, we certainly will have lots of options to fill out the pitching staff should (heaven forbid) something happen to one of our major league arms.

Pedro is increasing his workload daily, and seems to be none the worse for wear. Hopefully, on opening day, the spirit of the team will take the ball and throw the real first pitch that matters. Symbolically, emotionally and spiritually, it will start the season off on the right foot (all pun intended). Keep it up Pedro, we need you even more than ever!

Anderson Hernandez! I think Jeff Keppinger is trying to figure out just what he has to do to get some respect around Metsville. The guy is killing the ball, is a better than average fielder and seemingly a good guy around the clubhouse, and it would be great if he makes this team in spite of being Willie's apparent 4th choice (behind Ahern, Woodward & Valentin). With Kaz out for at least 3 weeks (and let's HOPE for far longer- as in never to return)- it would be another great story to see 2 minor leaguers make the jump together to man the critical position of second-sacker 30+ years after our esteemed manager did likewise with the Yanks. Ahern should start, but Kep deserves a spot, too!

We'll finish our look at the top 10 critical areas to the Mets success this season this week, and then we will move on to analyzing the daily happenings, strategies and potential moves prior to opening day.

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