Feb 16

Jenrry Mejia’s Role Is Set

Once he arrives in camp – which might take another week – it appears Jenrry Mejia’s spring is already laid out for him.

Barring an injury to somebody rated ahead of him, Mejia will be used as a starting pitcher and expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. This decision has nothing to do with his visa problems in leaving the Dominican Republic.

Not that they don’t need bullpen help, but this is the best course for the Mets, both in the short and long terms.

The Mets have several rotation questions, and if history is an indicator they will have a need for another starter or two this season. It is that way every summer.

And, for next year and beyond, the Mets will need another starter, as there are no plans to bring back Johan Santana.

The Mets’ projected rotation includes Santana, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Shaun Marcum and Dillon Gee. Mejia and Zack Wheeler are next in line.

Santana and Gee are coming off injuries; Niese’s career-high is 13 victories; Harvey has ten career starts; and Marcum was a late FA pick-up. Now, you tell me that is a position of strength.

Clearly, the Mets need more starting pitching depth.

Mejia has been bounced around between the rotation and the pen, and I still maintain Jerry Manuel’s insistence of using him as an untested reliever set back his career. Through it all, Mejia’s greatest success has been as a starter, and it is the team’s obligation to put him in a position where he’s best able to succeed.

After coming off Tommy John surgery last year – and who says there’s not a connection with how he’s been handled? – Mejia’s numbers were far superior as a starter.

Mejia posted a 2.75 ERA and .245 opponents batting average as a starter compared to a 5.48 ERA and .303 opponents batting average out of the bullpen.

While it isn’t the largest sampling, it is enough to determine his comfort zone and the best place to start.

Starting pitching is expensive, and despite Fred Wilpon’s proclamation his finances are in order and the Mets will spend in the future, that’s no guarantee. What is assured, however, is the Mets don’t have the chips to deal for a starter and anybody of substance in the free-agent market will be costly. That’s another reason why grooming Mejia in this role is the prudent option because of his reasonable salary.

Mejia needs this year to fully come back from his injury and build up the strength to pitch seven plus innings every fifth day. This is the best course for both Mejia and the Mets.

Meanwhile, Mejia is working out at the Mets’ complex in the Dominican Republic and manager Terry Collins thinks it could be another week before he gets to Florida.

Feb 18

What’s the message from these Mets?

Technically, position players don’t have to be in camp until Saturday, but one would think – and hope – several of the question marks would have bothered to show up early. If David Wright, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan can do it, so can every body else that doesn’t have a personal issue or visa problem.

In particular, Castillo was annoyed this morning when it came to Luis Castillo, the often-maligned second baseman who ranks highly on Mets’ fans enemies list. Castillo, who is to be paid $6 million for his mediocre production, is still in the Dominican Republic. Manager Terry Collins said it would have sent a symbolic message to the organization had Castillo been in camp earlier.

The same applies to Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay, both who missed a considerable amount of last season to injuries.

Beltran is coming off a knee injury and could be moved to right field. This is his walk year and the Mets will try to move  him by the All-Star break. Both, for his contract and for what he might bring in a trade, it is imperative he gets off to a strong. One or two days shouldn’t make a difference, but with the Mets this year it is all about appearances.

As for Bay, he was having a lousy year before he was sidelined with a concussion. So far, he’s done nothing to justify his $66 million contract. Would it have killed him to show up early?

Wright and Reyes are the leaders of this team and they’ve been here. The others are question marks and will wait until they absolutely have to.

So much for initiative.

Nov 17

Martinez wants to pitch again ….

Saying he feels rejuvenated, Pedro Martinez said he wants to pitch another season. He emphasized it would be a full season, not like this summer when he joined the moving Phillies bandwagon in midseason.

MARTINEZ: Where will he land?

MARTINEZ: Where will he land?


Martinez’s agent, Fern Cuza, said his client is healthy: “He was feeling no pain whatsoever. It was the first time in three years that he felt that way on the mound. Based on how he played, and how he responded, he’s looking forward to playing next year.”

Martinez played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in spring 2009 and hoped that would convince teams of his health. It did not, and he had to audition before he signed a $1 million, one-year contract with the Phillies. In nine games he was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

Martinez pitched will in Game 2 of the World Series, but working with the flu, was hit in Game 6.

Jan 29

Mets interested in Pedro

MARTINEZ: One more year?

MARTINEZ: One more year?

I remember talking with Pedro Martinez the last day of the season and him telling me he never felt ready between rehabbing injuries and taking time off to visit his ailing father.

“I don’t want to leave this way,” Martinez told me then. “I didn’t feel right this year. I know I can still pitch.”

Martinez had his moments last season, both good and bad, but a guy with his heart shouldn’t be easily dismissed. If his pride lets him be a fourth or fifth starter, then he’s worth it. Let’s face it, could he be any worse than Freddy Garcia or Tim Redding?

There’s a report out of the Dominican Republic that has Omar Minaya meeting with  Martinez about bringing the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer back for an encore to his four-year, $53 million contract.

Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t set with their rotation. With no assurances they’ll re-sign Oliver Perez, bringing back Martinez in a stop gap role makes sense. He’s not the young stud we’d all like, but there aren’t any guarantees Jon Niese is that guy, either.

Oct 09

Burgos to be jailed while awaiting trial

Burgos: Jailed and awaiting trial. Denies anything happened.

Burgos: Jailed and awaiting trial. Denies anything happened.

Ambiorix Burgos is to be jailed for three months while awaiting trial for a hit-and-run accident that killed two women in the Dominican Republic. Burgos told the Dominican AP he was ordered jailed out of concerns for his safety. That sounds odd to me. I thought it was because he was a flight risk. He did take a week to turn himself in.

Said Burgos: “I am going to come out of this fine because my conscience is clear, and I’m not worried this will affect my career because I haven’t done anything.”

Burgos has an Oct. 23 court date in New York for assaulting his girl friend that he said he’ll attend. Burgos didn’t say when he’ll start throwing off the mound.