Mar 17

Niese goes today ….

Jon NIese takes his 9.00 ERA to the mound today against the Braves. Niese is still in the hunt for the fifth spot in the rotation, but hasn’t overly impressed in his opportunity.

I’m still putting what’s left of my money on Livan Hernandez to win the role. That is, of course, if the Mets don’t pick somebody else up, such as re-signing Pedro Martinez.

Nobody has blown away the field. Tim Redding is hurting and could open the season on the DL. Freddy Garcia? That ended quickly.

I like what I saw of Niese last season, but he also had those moments that said he wasn’t ready. I’d hate for him to come up and get rocked the way Mike Pelfrey did. If there is a viable major league option to Niese, the Mets will take it.

Mar 03

Garcia hammered again ….

It’s clear after his first two starts Freddy Garcia doesn’t have it. There’s nothing on his fastball. Four more runs today and has an ERA of 20.25.

They say stats don’t matter in spring training, but they do when you’re trying to hang on to your career. Eight runs on five hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings shows no glimmer of hope.

Feb 27

Fifth starter update: Livan sharp; Garcia not so

GARCIA: Rough day.

GARCIA: Rough day.

Watching Feddy Garcia labor big time against the Cardinals. It’s early, but it has to be frustrating for Garcia, who has given up four runs on a pile of pitches. Garcia is trying to make the team as the fifth starter.

He’s competing with Livan Hernandez, who threw two perfect innings today, Tim Redding and Jon Niese.

If I were betting, I would say Hernandez wins the job, Redding will get slotted as the long man, Niese and Garcia would open in the minors.

Feb 14

Mets sign Livan Hernandez ….

HERNANDEZ: Adds depth to rotation.

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.

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.