Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The warning lights are flashing

Reason No. 3 for why Omar Minaya needs to acquire another starting pitcher made itself apparent Monday night in Arizona.

Reason No. 1 is that Ollie Perez and John Maine aren't going to help, and Reason No. 2 is that adding a starting pitcher has the additional benefit of strengthening the bullpen by putting Hisanori Takahashi back into the role for which he seems better suited.

Reason No. 3 is that a stronger rotation overall helps cushion the blow if one of the established starters falters. And brother, Mike Pelfrey is faltering.

Sure, all pitchers have clunkers now and then, but Pelfrey has been slipping for a couple of weeks now. Here's a scary stat: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Pelfrey is the first NL pitcher (and third in MLB) since 1900 to allow more than 50 base runners (hits, walks, and HBPs) while recording fewer than 50 outs over a span of four starts.

Since 1900. Ouch.

Everyone says he's healthy, so be thankful for that. After the game, the call was made for Pelfrey to throw the fastball more, but he's had trouble locating the fastball, so he's throwing more breaking balls, and that's what teams are sitting on. Pelfrey needs to solve his fastball problem — whether it's a crisis of confidence or an adjustment in grip, or some combination — in order to find his way out of the woods.

What concerns me more is the roster. It seems like, as well as he's hitting, Josh Thole will be sent down to catch more (since he's still developing behind the plate). There's no need for Turner to still be here with Reyes and Castillo back, so he should be sent down as well.

There are no backups for either Ike Davis or David Wright, although Alex Cora could play third in a pinch (please don't say Henry Blanco). Nick Evans should stay on the roster as an OF/1B, and Mike Hessman, a 32-year-old career minor leaguer with 18 homers in Buffalo, could be called up to back up Wright. That would leave Carter, Cora and Francoeur as lefties off the bench, with Evans and Hessman as the righties.

Or Minaya could go out and get a veteran righthanded corner infielder to replace the injured Fernando Tatis.

As for the bullpen, if Takahashi moves back, that gives them three lefties with Valdes and Feliciano, to go with K-Rod, Parnell and either Nieve or Dessens. Nieve pitched one good inning against Arizona but imploded in the second, allowing a natural cycle over a four-hitter span (triple, double, single, homer). Elmer Dessens is pitching better, so Nieve would be the odd man out.

So Omar needs a starter and a corner infielder, and the offense needs to get on track (and Arizona is a good place to start).

You can sense Mets fans getting ready to panic. But Monday was the first game since April of last year when the Mets had a lineup full of "starters." We'll see how they jell over this road trip, and if they survive the trip without getting buried, and if Minaya can make the moves he needs to make, the Mets will be in good position for the stretch run.

What, me worry?

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