NY Sports Dog: Spring Training Musings

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Training Musings

As we close in on Opening Day, things are pretty much falling into place with the Mets roster.  Livan seems to be separating himself from the other 5th starter candidates, while Johan's elbow and Pelfrey's calf seem to be fine.  At this point, all that is left to be decided is the 25th man on the roster.

For as long as I recall, the Mets have gone with  12 man pitching staff, and a 5 man bench. However, with Nick Evans showing life in his bat of late, some are wondering if he should have a spot on the big league team.  At the moment, the bench is comprised of Alex Cora, Ramon Castro, Fernando Tatis, Marlon Anderson, and Jeremy Reed/Cory Sullivan.  Its a fairly traditional line up, with a middle infield glove, outfield glove, RH power bat, LH bat, and backup catcher.  At the same time, Castro will see limited action as the backup catcher, so it is effectively a 4 man bench. 

In the bullpen, we've got the solid combo of Putz and K-Rod, plus recent stalwart Feliciano, and newly acquired Sean Green as locks.  Parnell has been picking up steam lately, as has Darren O'Day.  In those 6 players, you've got a closer, 8th inning guy, as well as a right handed and left handed specialist.  Of course we've seen that the specialists (Feliciano, O'Day) have good track records against opposite handed hitters, and therefore have a little bit more versatility.  The only thing lacking is a true long reliever, but Parnell is a guy who, as a converted starter can give multiple innings.  For me, the interesting battle here is O'Day vs. Stokes.  Odds are that whichever pitcher doesn't make it, may leave the organization (O'Day is a Rule V guy, and Stokes would have to pass through waivers).  Personally, I favor Stokes, because he is a better bet as a cross-over guy, while the novelty of O'Day as a sidearmer is diluted be the presence of Green and Feliciano, who have similar arm slots.  The wild card in all this is Tim Redding, but I think he will replace whomever is struggling the most, be it Livan, Parnell, or O'Day/Stokes.

The question is, who makes the team better - Evans, or O'Day/Stokes?  Now as the 25th man, their impact is minimal compared to others, but as we know, every win counts.  I believe that Evans will have the opportunity to contribute more, because Stokes/O'Day are buried in the bullpen depth chart, and will really only see time in blowouts, extra inning games, or whenever our starter makes an early exit.  Evans, however, is a nice compliment to a lefty heavy starting lineup.  He is a guy that can give a breather to Church as well as Delgado, particularly against very tough lefties. Plus, he becomes a third bat that Manuel can call upon off the bench.  Playing in the NL, that type of depth can come in handy.  I realize that I haven't gotten into the whole discussion of whether Evans will get enough AB's, but that is not something that is easy to project at this point.

Meanwhile, another debate du jour is the usage of K-Rod in the WBC...particularly the 4 out save.  While I am not quite thrilled about it, this is not the biggest deal.  The fact is that in both of those outings, he threw no more than 22 pitches.  For a guy who has a fairly high whip, (1.29 last year), this is very close to an innings worth of pitches...in fact, last season, K-Rod averaged 17 pitches/inning.  In his 4 out saves, he threw 20 and 22 pitches respectively.  For me, that isn't too much of a concern.  

16 days to go!

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