In a new post to his blog, Adam Rubin of the Daily News, analyzes the Mets spring training battles and speculates on the potential Opening Day roster.
Regarding the rotation, Adam believes that Jon Niese is still the front-runner to be the team’s fifth starter and writes,
The smart money still has Jon Niese claiming the final slot in the rotation over Fernando Nieve, with Hisanori Takahashi only on the fringe of that race, despite the Japanese lefthander slated for a pair of Grapefruit League starts, on March 27 and April 1.
I have a feeling that the winner of the competition for the fifth starter spot may still be undecided when spring training ends. I’d bet that we may see two to three of them each getting starts in April, with Jerry Manuel playing the hotter hand for the rest of the season. The fifth starter spot has been constantly in a state of flux for the past few seasons now, with over a dozen different pitchers trying but not succeeding in keeping a job in the rotation.
In the bullpen Adam writes that Bobby Parnell and Sean Green are in some jeopardy of not making the Opening Day roster, although Green would seem to be less vulnerable because his salary is $975,000 even if he’s in the minors.
I actually mentioned that both Parnell AND Green were dangerously close to losing their bullpen spots last week, especially when you consider the outstanding spring performances of Nelson Figueroa, Pat Misch, Ryota Igarashi, Hisanori Takahashi and Jenrry Mejia.
Rubin points to Francisco Rodriguez and Pedro Feliciano as the obvious locks, with right-handers Ryota Igarashi and Kiko Calero virtually assured of spots as well. Fernando Nieve is also close to locking up a bullpen spot leaving just two more spots that are yet to be decided.
He believes that Jenrry Mejia will most likely unseat Parnell with Green’s spot possibly going to free-agent lefthander Joe Beimel, whom he says the Mets remain in touch with. But if that doesn’t transpire, Hisanori Takahashi or Nelson Figueroa could make the team.
It’s starting to look more and more like Mejia could make the team, even though I’m still against such a move. Ironically, he could replace Bobby Parnell who was exactly in the same position Mejia now finds himself in. We had these same debates regarding Parnell last spring, and I wondered if promoting him to the bullpen would jeopardize his ability to be a future starter for the Mets. Now Parnell could find himself going back to the minors, and whether he returns as a reliever or starter is still to be determined. Now everyone is just as fascinated with Mejia’s fastball as they were with Parnell’s… Hopefully Mejia won’t suffer a similar fate…
I have a strong hunch that the Mets could possibly trade Sean Green to make room in the bullpen and create an opportunity for Misch or Takahashi.