As we inch closer to spring training and pitchers, catchers, and position players reporting to camp, Mets fans shake off the jitters about all that has or has not happened and now start looking at the two P’s: The actual product and the potential.
I can only speak for myself, but I love baseball and the excitement is unparalleled in any other sport out there. The smell of the grass, the food in the air from the vendors, the planes flying overhead (Shea Stadium flashback, sorry), and seeing the sea of orange and blue in the stands ready to cheer on our Amazins. The future is closer than it appears and we will be experiencing a new year for our team very soon.
So what’s new? The season. Mostly the same core but hopefully much healthier and driven to erase the stigma 2009 specifically provided and even the same pitchers with some spot starters vying for extended roles such as Nelson Figueroa, Fernando Nieve (projected to be the #4 arm, at least, if Jerry Manuel has a say in the matter), and Kelvim Escobar.
Now I added him because this upcoming season is all about potential. This team minus a few new faces was projected to go to the World Series by several prognosticators, but injuries, spotty defense, and an epic lapse in intensity and desire killed the dream.
Escobar, IMO, has the potential to be a top starter for this team if healthy. He has a career record of 101-91 with a 4.15 ERA. His best year to date would probably be in 2007 where he pitched for Anaheim with an 18-7 record and a 3.40 ERA. The man had 160 strikeouts.
If or when he brings this kind of daily pitching performance to the team, he has all the potential to be a solid #2 guy.
If Pelfrey or Ollie (also projected ad nauseam to have #2 potential as well) realize their abilities, then you have a logjam at the top of the rotation. That’s a good problem to have. In case, you didn’t guess, I liked the Kelvim Escobar signing. I saw him in action for years and I believe he can bring something to the table the rotation needs. He’s projected to pitch in relief but trust me, he has starter stuff and he will probably see the rotation at some point if someone else falters. I’ll go on the record and say that this could be the best signing of the year aside from Bay that the Mets have made.
Speaking of Ollie, shouldn’t we be excited? He’s feeling better physically and mentally (and you know that’s a BIG deal) and on top of that, he’s got a beard.
“Right now, I feel nothing (in my knee), I think that’s why I’m really happy. I feel real strong and I’m really excited to get back and start the season. The first thing is we want everybody to be healthy, because we understand what happened last year, that was really tough for everybody, and me. And so, I think this is a new year and we have to keep going and be healthy.”
I’m happy for him as this would appear to be his last chance with the organization. I think Ollie can show us something consistent finally. We’re rooting for you, Ollie.
I think it’s clear that the Mets are focusing on their voids such as pitching, catching, and the first base spot by signing “the other one not named Ken” Hisanori Takahashi, Riggans, and Jacobs (who has been discussed as a catcher and a first baseman so who knows? I guess by what we’ve seen throughout the league, versatility is a good thing as long as you’re consistent and effective in both places.) There were some other signings that have the capability of panning out into something special, or at least, competent. Names like non-roster invitee, infielder Frank Catalanotto (situational hitting, leadership, and solid defense), and Chris Carter (excellent defense, versatility at LF and 1B, and decent bat) come to mind.
Depth matters and maybe I’m guessing, but if you look at the current roster, the bench, and the non-roster invitees, the Mets clearly have stacked the deck with infielders, outfielders, and arms that can start and pitch in relief in hopes that several of them will stand out.
Will the core come back healthy and produce like we all know they can? Will the starting arms go longer than 5 innings and allow the bullpen to do their job and not be overworked? Will the bench come in and not miss a beat with cohesion, situational hitting, and heads up play? Will the non roster invitees surprise and give the regulars a run for their money? Competition is good. I believe that this team can allow the answers to be “Yes” to all of the above. Now it’s time to play the game. We’ve seen lesser teams do more with much less. LGM!