May 03

Mejia to have Tommy John surgery; must figure the worst.

Jenrry Mejia is seeking a second opinion on his medial collateral ligament, as is his right, but don’t bet the new doctor will offer a better alternative than Tommy John surgery. And, regardless of whom performs the surgery, the Mets can’t think all will be well in a year.

The Mets must continue on without Mejia in their plans, and although there are examples of pitchers who have come back from the surgery, there are similar examples of those who did not. Subsequently, the Mets must conduct business without Mejia in their plans and consider anything out of him in the future as a bonus.

The Mets eschewed an opportunity last season to deal Mejia, and the thinking at the time was sound. He was too good a prospect to just deal. I thought the Mets handled Mejia poorly last year in juggling his role, and it is speculation as to how much that contributed to the injury.

MEJIA: Mets must figure he's done.

It will be at least a year before we know whether Mejia will be sound enough to pitch, and even then there’s no guarantee he’ll be a hot prospect again.

There are examples on both sides of the aisle, of those who returned to have successful careers, and those who didn’t.

There’s no way of knowing where Mejia will be, but this much is sure, the Mets will be seeking pitching. The question is: How much are they willing to spend, both in prospects in the trade route and dollars in the free agency path next winter? The Mets must consider anything they get from Mejia as a bonus and look to build without him.

These pitchers made it back from Tommy John surgery: Josh Johnson, John Smoltz, Billy Wagner, David Wells, Tim Hudson, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Liriano and Chris Carpenter. And, of course, Tommy John.

These pitchers didn’t make it back: Kerry Wood (although he had a good season last year as reliever for the Yankees), Scott Williamson, Pat Hentgen, B.J. Ryan, Darren Driefort, Kris Benson, Phil Humber, Jaret Wright, Mike Hampton and Bill Pulsipher.

There is a wide enough sampling where it can go either way with Mejia, but we won’t know for at least a year, and there’s no telling what the Mets’ financial landscape will look like by then.

 

Dec 02

Saying good-bye to Maine

Many thought it at the time, that when John Maine left that game in Washington after only five pitches that he was also leaving the Mets.

MAINE: Waving good-bye?

It sure appears that way as they aren’t likely to tender a contract to Maine by today’s midnight deadline. They’ll tender Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Angel Pagan, and possibly Sean Green, but Maine is a longshot.

Maine came to the Mets in the Kris Benson deal as a throw-in, but emerged into a viable, productive pitcher. He won 15 games in 2007, but injuries, a weak shoulder and sometimes his attitude sabotaged him. Maine never regained the form that brought optimism he might develop into something special.

I don’t think the Mets did him any favors last spring and he was poorly handled by Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen, but Maine also didn’t bring much to the table the past two years.

A team weak in pitching, the Mets might bring him back at a reduced rate, but with the pitching market so thin, he’s liable to test the waters to see what’s out there. There’s also no compelling reason why he’d want to return especially since he’s still steamed at Warthen.

At one time, Maine represented potential and good things to the Mets – remember that game against the Marlins? – but now he personifies part of what went wrong. He’s about unrealized dreams.

Of course, so does Oliver Perez, but the Mets are on the hook to him for $12 million and they have no other choice but to give it one more chance. Maine would come at a lower rate so it’s much easier to cut the ties.

As far as Dickey is concerned, the Mets will tender him and then work on an extension. They’ll probably want to see is last year was a fluke before giving him a multi-year contract.

Mar 08

March 8.10: Maine goes today.

John Maine isn’t a project the way Mike Pelfrey and Oliver are, but he’s a question nonetheless. When healthy, the Mets have a reasonable idea what to expect from Maine, once considered a throw-in in the Kris Benson with Baltimore.

But, how healthy is Maine?

“It feels fine,’’ Maine said at the start of spring training when asked about his surgically repaired shoulder. “It feels like it did three, four years ago.’’

Three years ago appeared to be a breakout year for Maine, who made 32 starts and went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA. However, Maine complained of fatigue in his shoulder the following summer and eventually missed his last seven starts because of surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder.

Surgery was deemed successful, but by his own admission he rushed his comeback saying “maybe I was trying to make up for lost time.’’

Maine made only 15 starts last season and went 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA. Maine’s biggest problem last year was an inability to amp it up and pitch out of trouble. He came back at the end of the year to show he was recovering, then modified his off-season program by starting later and throwing less.

Today’s start against the Florida Marlins won’t be about getting people out as it will be another test for his shoulder and to see what he might have picked up working with Sandy Koufax earlier this spring.

Koufax had Maine using a longer stride when delivering his fastball and concentrating on working on the inner half of the plate.

When healthy the Mets have a good idea from what to expect from Maine, although the organization believes the potential ceiling is higher with Pelfrey and Perez.

“I think being able to go out there every five days,’’ Maine said when asked the key for a successful season from him. “When I do go out there I generally give the team a chance to win.’’

Here’s the line-up behind Maine:

Angel Pagan CF
Fernando Martinez RF
David Wright 3B
Jason Bay LF
Daniel Murphy 1B
Rod Barajas C
Russ Adams 2B
Ruben Tejada SS
John Maine RP