Posts Tagged ‘Freddy Garcia’

Starting Rotation Has Its Share of Ups and Downs

March 7, 2009

Along with every Mets fan’s morning coffee is the daily task of checking on the status of their left-handed ace, Johan Santana. With so much emphasis being placed on the notion of whether he is or isn’t in line to make this season’s opening day start, fans and media alike have distanced themselves from other burning questions concerning the Mets starting rotation. As disturbing as it is to imagine shaving off a piece of bone from the shoulder of right-hander John Maine during the off-season, it is just as gruesome to hear what he thinks of his progress thus far.

“I just don’t feel good out there, I don’t feel comfortable,” Maine said. “I’m trying to do something different mechanically every pitch and nothing’s working. I just feel terrible out there.”

Would somebody cheer this guy up? I think John may need a hug.

“I just didn’t think it would take this long,” Maine said. “I thought that after a few bullpens down here, a few games, stuff like that, I’d start feeling more comfortable. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”

Oh, boy. Can we get a tissue over here? I think Maine’s situation sounds serious.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has repeatedly insisted that Santana’s elbow will be just fine. And the hubbub surrounding the two-time Cy Young award winner is just fluff for the back pages of NY newspapers. Okay Jerry, we get it, it’s time to move on and worry about other issues, like Jonathon Niese, the Mets young left-hander, who is among several other pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the Mets starting rotation.

Throughout Jonathon’s short baseball career, he has been reminded constantly of the significance in the date of which he was born, October 27, 1986. Ring a bell? It’s Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The last time the Mets won a championship. Recently, WFAN’s Steve Somers asked him if anybody ever mentioned that to him, he shot back with, “way too many.” Niese seems to go about his business with more straightforwardness unlike his teammate, Mike Pelfrey. “Be consistent with all my pitches, stay healthy, get outs,” he said. Coincidentally, Niese is in the same position as Pelfrey was last year. He is fighting for a roster spot.

Somers attempted to squeeze an ounce of progress from the young left-hander’s abbreviated stay in the big leagues last year. He overstated that Niese showed much poise after serving up a beach ball to an opposing hitter. Niese responded with something perhaps his pitching coach might have told him, “Poise didn’t get me outs.” Somers was also heard cracking himself up by stating that Livan Hernandez, who is also competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, is old enough to be Niese’s grandfather. Hernandez is currently at the ripe old age of thirty-four. Don’t think so, Steve. Just because he pitched for the Montreal Expos doesn’t make him old enough to look back on his days of sharing a shower stall with such baseball greats as Musial, Williams, and DiMaggio.

Hernandez does have 381 starts for his career which gives the Cuban-born right-hander a lot of face time. Maybe that’s why he could be mistaken for an old-timer. If you read the NY Times, they’ll tell you the job belongs to right-hander Tim Redding. Why? The Mets spent $2.25 million on him. Case closed. And Freddy Garcia? The last time I checked the veteran pitcher’s line, it read, “Freddy Garcia was battered again. Unable to keep his fastball down, he allowed four runs — he allowed two home runs –in two innings.”

What does all this mean? It means the Mets organization has more confidence in Johan Santana’s side bullpen sessions than it does in its fourth and fifth starters’ chances of making an immediate impact.

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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.