All offseason we talked about what is best for our beloved Mets. What’s best as far as free agency. What’s best as far as who is managing. What’s best from the GM position. What’s best at each position. And even what’s best from ownership. We all have had our very candid and pointed opinions and we share them like no other fan in the league does. Baseball fans are some of the most knowledgeable and intelligent fans out there. One of the biggest points of contention as far as the Mets are concerned, has got to be the rotation. I, myself, have danced with that issue for well over two months and for the first time, I believe I see the rotation of the future. What I mean specifically is that I see the rotation that can take us further than we have gone in a long time. I’m not talking about free agent pickups or trade options like the much discussed Bronson Arroyo and others. I’m just saying that if we just go with our in-house options, I see five guys that can rival any other rotation in the NL East and even beyond.
1. Let’s face it. Johan Santana is our ace and there isn’t too many that I would ever dream of replacing him with. He has done more than what we needed from him. It’s not his fault that the defense or bullpen failed him in the past. Johan Santana is and will be the ace of the future for the Orange and Blue Nation.
2. Mike Pelfrey is the #2 right now, but I believe that he actually has gotten the message that if he improves his secondary pitches for strikes, he uplifts the rotation and makes them more formidable. He has begun to do so and the results are encouraging. He is becoming a more complete pitcher instead of a hardball thrower. He threw more fastballs than anyone in the entire league last year. That’s ridiculous so this change in repertoire is right on cue.
3. Here’s where I may lose some of you. I am going with Hisanori Takahashi. I’m disregarding age and I am going with skill at this position. This is indeed a middle of the rotation guy and he brings experience in Japan, where they are encouraged to have up to ten out pitches to confuse opponents. Well, Takahashi has ten pitches and is able to execute them all for outs with precision. How can hitters succeed with any consistency against a pitcher who has six pitches (excluding slider and knuckleball) in his repertoire? Takahashi’s pitches are a straight four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, a cut fastball and a curve. He actually has two curves and two sinkers. This guy is perfect for the middle of the rotation and brings something that the Mets haven’t seen in a while; someone who can throw strikes. The New York Times gave a little insight into Takahashi, too:
During his 11-year career in the major leagues, Rod Barajas has caught future Hall of Famers, Cy Young Award winners, the gifted, the mediocre, the terrible, and everyone in between. “He’s a No. 3 starter,” Barajas said. “He’s no less than a middle-of-the-rotation guy.”
4. Two words: Jon Niese. He’s almost a lock as the number 5 for Opening Day. I believe that any time you can get a competent lefty in your rotation, much less, two, you’d better take advantage of that. Especially when you play in the NL East where that benefits you most against those opponents. Depending on the progress of Oliver Perez and John Maine, Niese could move up the ladder in no time. Hopefully, that won’t be a problem. Niese is going to be given every chance to be a mid to the end of rotation starter. And I think we can agree that he has the stuff to maintain that post. Last week Dan Warthen said that Niese has the best curveball of any Mets pitcher in camp.
5. Well, here is where we will dig a little deeper. John Maine and Oliver Perez are free agents in 2012 and it’s a safe bet that the Mets will not resign them. Call it a hunch. I see our future #5 starter in the ranks and maybe even beyond. Jenrry Mejia is that dude. He has an amazing fastball which has bedazzled many this spring already. He has worked diligently on his secondary pitches and the slider appears to be improving since his stint in AA-Binghamton. He has loads of potential and we are talking more than #5 starter potential.
What looks better in terms of wins and changing the team dynamic to you: Johan-Pelf-Takahashi-Niese-Mejia or Johan-Pelf-Maine-Perez-Niese?