Sep 20

Where to plug the holes?

I’m looking at the Mets’ payroll for 2011 and see around $130 million is already spent, much of it on players who could make a minimal impact, if at all. Money will be spent on Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Francisco Rodriguez, but what will the return be?

Castillo will get his money, even if he doesn’t play full time at second base. This is one of the few spots where the Mets could upgrade. They also must upgrade their rotation, bullpen and bench.

Every other position, I see, is already accounted for.

I see Ike Davis and Josh Thole as building blocks. Even though they could get something in return, I don’t see them dealing David Wright and Jose Reyes. Jason Bay, assuming he’s healthy, will come back in left field.

Beltran is virutally untradeable with an $18.5 million contract for next year (the Mets would have to pick up most of it in a deal) and having been injured for much of the past two years. He’ll be back and Angel Pagan will move to right, that is, unless the new manager can convince Beltran to switch from center.

The Mets don’t figure to spend heavily, so they’ll hope for a repeat from RA Dickey, and continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese. They might pick up a middle-tier arm to minimally off-set the projected loss of Johan Santana.

And, if they can’t shed K-Rod’s contract, they’ll hope he’ll be sound following thumb surgery. They’ll try, but might not be able to re-sign Hisanori Takahashi, and they’ll hope Bobby Parnell further develops. They’ll swap out their other bullpen pieces with mediocrity and hope for the best.

They’ll hope from the best from Bay and Beltran, hope Wright and Reyes have better seasons, and that Pagan wasn’t a fluke.

It really doesn’t matter who they bring in here as GM and manager, their hands are tied with their existing contracts and the way the roster is configured.

They don’t figure to be much better, if anything, other than they are today. They will bide their time into they clear some salary off the books for the 2012 season.

Sep 17

Encouraged by Pelfrey

PELFREY: On the cusp of stardom

The qualifier, of course, is it was against the Pirates, but it was good to see Mike Pelfrey throw a good game last night. His July swoon was alarming, but he seems to have corrected his mechanical and concentration problems that slammed the brakes on a potentially great season.

It is premature to say he’s completely there as a starter, but he could win 16, 17 games this year which is a watershed mark for a pitcher. And, if he even went .500 during his slide he could be looking at a 20-win season.

Pelfrey worked quickly and efficiently last night. He mixed his pitches well and worked both sides of the plate. The movement on his pitches was excellent, just the way it was at the beginning of the season.

I said going into the season Pelfrey might be the key Met, and it should be that way again next season. This guy is on the cusp of being right there and there will be more pressure than ever in 2011 because we don’t know what, if anything, the Mets will get from Johan Santana.

Sep 16

New Chat Room; Pelfrey goes tonight.

Game #147 vs. PIrates

To access the New Chat Room, click on to the icon to your left.

The Mets have more than a few pitching questions heading into next year, and Mike Pelfrey is one of them. After a brilliant start, Pelfrey hit the skids in July, seemed to right himself, then was hit hard again. He’s coming off a good start and the Mets want him to finish on a roll to give him the confidence heading into the offseason.

With Johan Santana injured, unless the Mets make a stunning move in the offseason, Pelfrey will go to spring training as the No. 1 starter.

The Mets will be seeking their first four-game sweep of a team tonight at home against Pittsburgh.

Sep 13

New Chat Room; Warthen edition.

Game #144 vs. Pirates

Mike Pelfrey, who turned his back to Jerry Manuel Saturday in a show of disrespect, has endorsed pitching coach Dan Warthen’s return next season. So too, has R.A. Dickey. It’s a nice gesture, but it is uncertain as to the weight it will carry.

Assuming Manuel is gone and a veteran manager is named to replace him, he would want to name his own pitching coach and staff. That the Mets’ have shown significant improvement – you can chalk that up to not having John Maine and Oliver Perez- is a positive reflection on Warthen to where he merits an interview.

However, Warthen’s best chance would be if the Mets hired young and inexperienced, say Wally Backman, who might have a staff assigned for him.

Either way, the rate of progress from 2009 to 2010 has been significant and he deserves an interview at least.

To access the New Chat Room. click on to the icon to your left.

Thanks, JD

Sep 13

Next year’s staff ….

The Mets began the season with questions concerning all five starters in their rotation. Despite a productive season with Johan Santana’s shoulder injury they will end it the same way. There are reasons to be optimistic, such as the emergence of Jon Niese, R. A. Dickey and progress made by Mike Pelfrey.

SANTANA: Can't depend on his return.

Those are also the same reasons to be cautious.

1) JOHAN SANTANA: There are all kinds of projections on Santana’s recovery, all of the them pointless until he has the surgery. However, three surgeries in three years since signing with the Mets is a red flag. His velocity was already in decline before the injury, and by all accounts this is not an easy injury to come back from. The Mets must assume Santana’s best days are behind him and have to shop for a front end starter. It would be nice to expect a full recovery, but the Mets have long since lived on Fantasy Island when it comes to injuries.

2) MIKE PELFREY: There was significant glimpses for reason to be optimistic, but also enough to be concerned. Pelfrey is barely a .500 career pitcher, and there were times this summer when he was horrible. His last start was something to build on, but haven’t we said that a lot about Pelfrey. Pelfrey has been good roughly half the time this season. He needs to up that to 75 to 80 percent. Right now he’s a No. 2 to an ace, maybe a No. 3, but I’d be wary entering the season with him as the No. 1.

3) R.A. DICKEY: His performance warrants going into spring training with a spot in the rotation. However, look how long it took for him to have a breakthrough season. How can we adequately predict for the man with the unpredictable pitch? The Mets can’t look at this year and say he will repeat. And, if he does duplicate this year, that’s only 10 wins so far, good for a No. 4 or No. 5. He’s been good, but he’s not an anchor.

4) JON NIESE: He developed this year, but it is only one season. Who is to say he won’t have a setback or growing pains like Pelfrey? I’m glad the Mets held on to him and there’s a bright promise ahead, but there were enough glitches to indicate he’s got much more to learn.

5) DILLON GEE: He was stellar in his debut, but there wasn’t Triple-A domination to project he’ll immediately step in to produce. He’ll get another look-see tonight, but we really don’t know enough about him.

6) HISANORI TAKAHASHI: We don’t even know if he’ll be around next year. The Mets like him in the bullpen but he wants to start. He’s also a free agent. The Mets are probably right about his role in that he was vulnerable the second time through the batting order.

7) PAT MISCH: Has had some good moments, but also a few times when he’s been roughed up. Right now, he’s no better than to compete for a No. 5 spot. Don’t forget, there’s a reason why he’s spent so much time in the organization.

8) OLIVER PEREZ: He’s on the team; he’s got to be mentioned. The Mets want him gone but won’t eat his contract. Until there’s a resolution to the stalemate, there’s the possibility of playing with a man short again next year. With Santana gone and the Mets monitoring the innings count for Niese, he should get a start or two, if for no other reason than informational purposes. He’ll pitch in Mexico during the winter, but will he find it there? Doubtful.

9) JOHN MAINE: Almost forgot about him. The Mets may not even tender him, but if they do what can they reasonably expect? He’s still damaged goods and it is anybody’s guess what he’ll be, or even if he’ll pitch again.