Front Office Shows Their Faith is in Numbers

February 15, 2009

“I’ve had to make teams every year I’ve gone into spring training,” said Jeremy Reed who joined the Mets in the 12-player deal which included relievers, J.J. Putz and Sean Green.

Reed is among a well-travelled group of players who are working hard this spring in hopes of cracking the Mets opening-day roster. Most recently, the Mets have tendered veteran infielder Ramon Martinez and perennial innings-eater Livan Hernandez to minor league deals. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 36 year-old Martinez, he burst onto the Mets scene during a late-season series against the Florida Marlins in which he came through with a clutch RBI double helping the Mets to a 2-0 win. That win would ultimately place the Mets in a dead tie with the Milwaukee Brewers on the last day of the 2008 season to compete for the NL Wild Card spot.

Livan Hernandez, 34, a right handed pitcher who has been on the Mets radar since the 2006 season, now joins three other pitchers, Freddy Garcia, Tim Redding, and rookie left-hander Jonathon Niese for a chance at the fifth and final spot in the Mets starting rotation.

“I just feel we need to have numbers,” Mets GM Omar Minaya said. Minaya has stated that he prefers to have eight to ten starters available at any given time once the season begins.

World Series winner and All-star right-hander, Freddy Garcia, is not accustomed to competing for a starting role and perhaps is feeling some pressure with the mounting participants vying for the same prize.

“I expect to be in the rotation,” Garcia said. “If not, I’ll have to go somewhere else.”

Since December of last year, the list for formidable starters has continued to grow. At the time of his signing, right-hander Tim Redding was considered at the top of the list. However, under these current circumstances, he has moved down the ladder as more and more decorated hurlers have been thrown into the fray.

Depending on the depth of the Mets bullpen, the team will most likely carry four bench players. Assuming that Fernando Tatis is considered your everyday left fielder, one of those spots will be allocated for young Daniel Murphy and a back-up catcher leaving two possibilities coming off the bench. That number could reduce to one if the Mets decide to accept back-up infielder Alex Cora for their opening day roster.

With just one spot to fill, Jeremy Reed, Cory Sullivan, Nick Evans, Angel Pagan, and Marlon Anderson may be asked to draw straws. Evans, Pagan, and Anderson have some history with the Mets. However, Reed’s ability to play all three outfield positions may give him the edge.

If you recall, injuries depleted the Mets outfield the last two seasons. When right fielder Ryan Church and veteran Moises Alou were grounded for extended periods of time, the Mets were forced to scramble for replacements. Some of the names that come to mind are journey-man, Jeff Conine, and every-man, Trot Nixon.

Taking into account the popular theory that the house always wins, possessing a large cadre of players should at least give the Mets some assurance in breaking even.

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