Time To Step Up – Part 1, Pitching

Pitchers and catchers are arriving in Port St. Lucie, workouts will be starting shortly and soon exhibition games will be played in Florida.  The Mets will be trying to erase the 2009 season and focus on winning in 2010.  There a lot of question marks coming into the 2010 season for the Mets such as their rotation after Johan Santana, Daniel Murphy’s ability to be a productive 1st baseman both offensively and defensively, Luis Castillo being able to play the way he did last year and of course who will be our starting catcher.

Unfortunately the Mets were not the busiest of teams during the off season and they did not sign the free agents a lot of fans wanted them to.  It’s time to move on from that as the Mets are going to have to make due with the team they have, a team that was predicted to make the World Series in 2009 by many sports journalist including Sports Illustrated. We’ll have to stay healthy and perform better than last year if we expect this team to win a championship.

Some early thoughts on pitchers…

Johan Santana: He was lights out early on last season, he played hurt, he always wants the ball but there is one thing that has bothered me about Johan over the last 2 seasons.  What has bothered me about Johan Santana is his tendency at times to throw a teammate under the bus in a passive aggressive way.  It’s no secret Santana should have won many more games than he did in 2008 but didn’t because of the bullpen.  It’s quite reasonable that he would be upset; I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Having said that I would rather he spoke to his teammates privately instead of slyly insulting them to the media. Another instance comes to my mind from last year in a game against the Brewers. Fernando Martinez was playing center field and as he tried to get to the ball he took a face plant, Johan was visibly upset in the dugout, shaking his head and at the same time showing up the young prospect.  I’m no F-Mart supporter but he was not ready to be in the big leagues and he was playing out of position.  The last thing F-Mart needed was one of the best players on the team showing his disgust on live TV for the media and fans to see.  Santana should have talked to him privately.  Now Johan doesn’t do this often so for 2010 I hope Johan steps up by being a slightly better teammate.

Mike Pelfrey: Big Pelf took a big step backwards last year.  He was inside his own head far too much, could not pitch with guys on base and allowed too many balks. Pelf needs to realize he’s a big league pitcher now.  His job is to get guys out and let your infielders and outfielders worry about the guys on base.

John Maine: Maine for the last 2 seasons has suffered injuries, but even when healthy he has a hard time getting out of the 5th inning.  Maine has shown that he can be brilliant on the mound as we saw in September of 2007 in a gem against the Marlins. Maine needs to focus and stop over thinking from pitch to pitch. You can see how he frequently thinks too far ahead when he pitches, always thinking about the next one. He needs to stay in the moment and not worry about the next pitch or hitter.

Oliver Perez: He might be the most frustrating out of the bunch in the rotation. He has no-hitter stuff and we have seen flashes of that, but we have also seen Ollie far too often self destruct.  He signed a big contract last year and he arrived to Spring Training overweight and out of shape.  Ollie also has a tendency to change his delivery mid game all of the sudden even if he’s in a good groove.  Ollie seems to have already started stepping up to the plate for 2010 as he’s been working out extensively before Spring Training in Arizona.  He also has gotten himself in much better shape and dropped some excess pounds. Ollie needs to listen to his coaches. He needs to stop experimenting with his delivery and stick with the one that works.  He needs to prove that he was worth that big contract and that all this potential was more than just talk.

K-Rod: It seemed that after Luis Castillo dropped that ball at Yankee Stadium, K-Rod’s season went in the wrong direction.  He didn’t have a lot of playing time in the 2nd half of the season due to save situations being few and far between. I think it was one of the reasons why his production was so bad in the second half.  Some have said he quit playing hard since this was the 1st time in a long time he was not going to the playoffs or in the hunt for the playoffs.  Pedro Feliciano has said that he would tell K-Rod to tell Warthen and Jerry that he needed to pitch but K-Rod did not follow that advice.  K-Rod makes a lot of money, he’s an important player on this team and he’s a veteran player and if he feels he needs to pitch every couple of days to be able to perform when needed than he needs to step up and say it.

Next week I’ll share my early thoughts on some of the position players that need to step up to the plate.