HERNANDEZ: Adds depth to rotation.
The Mets’ never-ending search to add pitching depth continued today with the signing of Livan Hernandez, El Duque’s half-brother. Hernandez, 34 next Friday, will compete with Jon Niese, Freddy Garcia and Tim Redding for the fifth starter role. He was signed to a minor league deal, but could earn $1 million if he makes the big league roster.
Bet on it.
“I just feel we need to have numbers,” said GM Omar Minaya. The Mets have 29 pitchers in camp.
Hernandez is an innings eater. He threw 180 last season for Minnesota and Colorado, but logged at least 200 the previous eight years. He has won at least 11 games the past nine seasons.
I like the signing. Minaya is right; a team can’t have too much pitching, and Hernandez has a history of durability.
This signing also leaves Pedro Martinez out in the cold.
Mets ace Johan Santana will not be pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, with the decision made for him by the Venezuelan Baseball Federation.
The Federation announced today it was not willing to the insurance premium required for the Mets to clear Santana, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Oct. 1.
Santana tested his knee this week for the first time since surgery, throwing 18 pitches and participating in conditioning drills. Santana said at the time he wanted to play, but the decision would be made by the Mets.
Thankfully, that decision was made for him today.
CASTILLO: All eyes on second baseman.
The most scrutinized Met figures to be second baseman Luis Castillo, the player GM Omar Minaya would have unloaded in an instant, but nobody was willing to come up with a bag of balls.
Harsh, yes … but Castillo has $18 million remaining on his contract, and is coming off a horrible, yet, injury plagued season. No Met has more pressure to come up with a fast start.
To put the odds in his favor, Jerry Manuel has to put Castillo in the spot in the order to best utilize his offensive skills, and that’s second. When Castillo is on his game, he can slap the ball around, bunt and work the count …. all which help Jose Reyes when he’s on base.
And, if Castillo is getting on base, he can be a distraction to the opposing pitcher, and as a base stealer, draw more fastballs. All this, of course, is theory based on Castillo’s performance before coming to the Mets.
All eyes are on Castillo this spring, and they won’t miss anything.
I’ve been barking about the Mets signing Adam Dunn since the moment Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza walked out of Shea together after the final game ceremonies.
He’s now with Washington for two years at the cost of $20 million, where he’ll get a chance to maul Mets pitching for 19 games this season. Bobby Abreu signed with the Angels for $5 million for one season.
I wanted Dunn for his power and because I’m not convinced the left field platoon of Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy will be the answer. I know Dunn will strike out a lot (not as much as Ryan Howard), but he’ll also hit 40 homers and drive in 100 runs. He’ll also take his walks and be on base enough to where he should scored close to 100 runs. Plus, he’d be around to take over when Carlos Delgado leaves.
Abreu is also a consistent run producer. Either would have upgraded the Mets’ offense, which needs a little more pop.
The Mets upgraded their biggest need, which was the bullpen, but 29 blown saves also tells you the games were tight in the late innings. More firepower is needed because the Mets did not sufficiently upgrade their rotation.
SHEA: Honor its legacy.
There is one remaining wall of what was Shea Stadium that’s still standing. I know it won’t happen, because such decisions are never made on the fly, but I’d like to see it remain standing. It would make a great gesture to the past.
However, the Mets could still honor their Shea history by outlining a replica of the playing field in the parking lot and denote where some of the most memorable plays occurred with statues. Such of Seaver on the mound when he struck out 19 Padres, or Buckner, or the Swododa and Agee catches, of Cleon catching the final out of the 69 Series.
In Atlanta, the Braves have a replica of an outfield wall and mark where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record, so it’s not like this hasn’t been done before.