Mar 18

March 18.10: What’s Jerry’s thinking about the fifth starter?

With most managers, at least those with security, their objectives are a balance between winning today and building for the future. That can’t be said for the Mets’ Jerry Manuel, who has joked about the importance of a fast start for the preservation of his job.

There’s truth in humor.

Manuel presided over the late season collapse of 2008 and full season free fall of 2009, and knows the Mets must contend, if not get to the playoffs and win a round, if he’s to return next year. Manuel’s job is on the line, and with it there’s a sense of urgency of being competitive immediately.

Given that, it stands to reason Manuel’s decisions, like that of choosing his fifth starter, will be to give him the best chance of winning now as opposing for building for the future, because quite simply, he has no guarantee of a future.

Manuel’s comments the other day that he’d like to see Hisanori Takahashi start a game this spring suggests strongly he’s being seriously considered for the fifth starter role. Takahashi has been superb in six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.

“What we have seen so far is he really has the ability to pitch and pitch with all his pitches,” Manuel said. “He probably is our sharpest pitcher right now, as far as everything hitting where he wants it to hit.”

If not Takahashi, then perhaps Fernando Nieve. Nelson Figueroa will be sent out to clear waivers, and Jon Niese, who went into spring training the favorite, will be sent out because he has options remaining.

Niese might be the fifth starter down the road, but Manuel doesn’t have the luxury of letting him learn on the job. As long as Takahashi is getting batters out, the Mets have a chance to win, and that means Manuel has a better chance to stick around.

Mar 11

March 11.10: A plan for Mejia.

Contrary to how they handled Bobby Parnell last season, the Mets seem to have a definitive plan for Jenrry Mejia.

He has been working as a reliever this spring, and that’s what he’ll do for the remainder of camp and in the minor leagues.

Manager Jerry Manuel sees that Mariano Rivera-like movement on his cutter and envisions dominance coming out of the bullpen.

Last year, Parnell was bounced around from being a starter in the minors, to a reliever for the Mets, then a starter and finally back to the pen. After the season he admitted being confused and his confidence shaken.

Mejia is 20 and has been scintillating in his role. It is easy to see how Manuel could be thinking about 94-mph fastball coming out of the bullpen, perhaps as soon as this year. In 5 1/3 scoreless innings he has given up two hits and struck out five with no walks.

It’s that no walks that’s importance. The reviews have been good but the presumption is he’ll open the season in the minor leagues, likely the Class AA level.

That’s the plan now, here’s hoping they stick with it.