Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roster set, baseball is just around the corner!

For most teams, including the Mets, the regular season is getting ready to begin tomorrow. It's been a long wait, but it's finally here. Which is good, because I can't wait much longer.

Johan Santana will make his debut tomorrow in Florida at 4:10. Thankfully, he will not be opposed by the Met-killer, Dontrelle Willis, although I have a good feeling that if we are to reach our ultimate goal, we're still going to have to go through him. Instead, he will face Mark Hendrickson, who really doesn't put much fear into Mets fans' hearts, but you can't underestimate this Marlins team. The Marlins really couldn't find a better opening day starter than Mark Hendrickson though?

Anyway, it appears that the roster has been finalized. Most noteworthy is that Mike Pelfrey, after impressing in Spring, will be our fifth starter, although that probably has more to do with Orlando Hernandez's health than anything. El Duque will likely begin the year on the DL, then take over the fifth spot when ready.

Also, Joe Smith will take the final bullpen spot. I really enjoyed watching him last year until he tired out, as I'm sure most, if not all, Mets fans did as well, so I'm excited to see him back on the team. Finally, Brady Clark grabs the last bench spot, which I am happy to hear. As I wrote towards the beginning of Spring Training, I was rooting for him to get that last spot.

So here we go. Just one more day of waiting. The only thing left is to see if we'll be half a game up or down on the Braves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Moises Alou out 4-6 weeks

It has begun. Injuries have been the big story this Spring Training for the Mets, and now we know for sure that one key player will be out at the start of the season. And it's really no surprise who (sorry to those who bet on El Duque, though).

Moises Alou is expected to be out for four to six weeks for hernia surgery.

Probable replacement Endy Chavez has yet to play in a Spring Training game as he is also currently dealing with an injury. However, he should be seeing some action soon, so hopefully he will be able to take over in left field by the start of the regular season.

This certainly also opens the door for Angel Pagan to make the Opening Day roster. He got some Major League experience the last two seasons with the Cubs, and has been very impressive so far in Spring Training. He may very well have been earning the last bench spot on the roster anyway, but the Mets now need to have another outfielder for Opening Day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mike Pelfrey vs. El Duque

The acquisition of Johan Santana supposedly pushed Mike Pelfrey back out of the starting rotation, either to a bullpen role or back to AAA. However, it looks like the Mets may have to make a decision on their fifth starter for the start of this season.

In two Spring Training appearances now, Mike Pelfrey has looked great, pitching 5 shutout innings and allowing just three hits. It was easy to turn against Pelfrey last season, after his 0-7 start. I never gave up on him though, and I kept watching him with hope that he would start to turn it around. He then went on to win 3 of his 4 starts in September.

Orlando Hernandez had much more success during last season than Pelfrey. However, he was rather injury prone, and that is already carrying over into this season. He has been very limited in camp so far due to his injuries, and has yet to pitch in a game. I wouldn't be surprised if he was still not ready by the time the regular season rolled around, meaning Pelfrey would probably be the fifth starter by default.

But what about if, or when, El Duque is healthy again? Obviously, it's too early to tell for certain. If he can get in some work in Spring Training games and shows success, they could go with the more experienced Hernandez, especially if the Mets are unwilling to put him in the bullpen. But if Pelfrey continues his success through Spring Training, and maybe even through the beginning of the regular season, it's going to be hard to pull him from the rotation. I think he may have turned a corner last September, he seems to have grown a bit and learned from his disastrous start last year, and he may be ready to take on the big leagues now. And I would really like to see what he can do, instead of just waiting for El Duque to get hurt again.

Of course, if we have the rotation of Johan, Pedro, Maine, Perez, Pelfrey, then that begs the question of what to do with El Duque. They say he won't go into the bullpen, but that may be what is best. Remember him pitching out of the bullpen in the White Sox's World Series run? He'll be just fine out there. It's Pelfrey's time to shine.