October 24, 2006


Zito or Not, Expect Mets Rotation To Improve Next Year (TIM MARCHMAN, October 24, 2006, NY Sun)

Here is a quick question: How many Mets starters pitched at least 100 innings with a park-adjusted ERA that was average or better?

The answer, when you think about it at all, is pretty shocking: Two — Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez.

When a team wins 97 games, there's a temptation to say that they were good in every phase of the game. The Mets weren't, and they weren't even close — the starting pitching just wasn't good. Good pitchers like Pedro Martinez and John Maine were hurt; bad pitchers like Steve Trachsel pitched a lot, and a bizarre assortment of castoffs, prospects, and nonames soaked up an awful lot of innings. Jose Lima, Victor Zambrano, Alay Soler, Brian Bannister, Oliver Perez, Dave Williams, Geremi Gonzalez, and Mike Pelfrey combined to throw 182.2 innings with a 6.56 ERA. Between them and Trachsel (whose 4.97 ERA actually overstated his effectiveness), the Mets essentially got worse performance than you'd expect to get from a random quadruple-A journeyman from two different rotation spots.

The Mets won because of a truly great offense and a truly great bullpen, which wasn't merely effective, but very durable. The pen ranked third in the National League in innings pitched, which is especially impressive considering that for obvious reasons there's usually an inverse proportion between how often a team uses its relievers and how good it is.

Next year, the offense will again be excellent — probably not quite as good, but more than good enough to win 95 games. The bullpen, too, should again be excellent — Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson have showed real talent for putting unexceptional pitchers in position to take advantage of whatever it is they do will, and so filling in the blanks around Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, and Duaner Sanchez shouldn't prove too difficult.

What all this means is that the Mets aren't really forced to improve the rotation dramatically, and it will probably improve if they don't make a big move over the winter.

You can open the season with a rotation of Glavine, Maine, Heilman, Perez, Pelfrey, with Bannister in the wings at AAA, groom Humber for awhile in the bullpen, and have Pedro pitch in relief when he comes back late in the season, but that's a staff that cries out for a genuine righthanded horse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2006 8:35 AM

I've been telling everyone who will listen that we need Jason Schmidt and not Barry Zito.

Posted by: Matt Cohen at October 24, 2006 8:47 AM