Myriad of Concern Faces Mets Starting Rotation
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Monday, February 19, 2007

With Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez being the only two locks as far as the Mets starting rotation is concerned and Pedro Martinez out until at least July, the boys from Flushing are going to have their hands full trying to fill-out the rest of the starting staff.

"I've always looked at it this way -- spring training is competition for everyone," Randolph said. "I don't believe, unless you're a Glavine or El Duque, saying that you have a spot. Everyone else needs to go out and compete."

Among those competing for the last three starting rotation slots are veterans Aaron Sele, Chan Ho Park, John Maine, Jorge Sosa, Oliver Perez and a host of youngsters such as Mike Pelfrey, Phillip Humber and the newly acquired Jason Vargas. Out of the youngsters, Pelfrey may be the most coveted, but Humber has earned Randolph’s respect with his staunch work-ethic and can’t be ruled out as a plausible option either.

"I've said before that I liked this kid," Randolph told MLB.com when Humber joined the team in September last season. "He's made a nice adjustment from his surgery, and in my bones, I feel like he's going to be a sleeper. That's the way I feel. I've been impressed with his work ethic."

As far as the veterans go, while both Sele and Park are capable of eating up innings for the Mets, the fact that Sele made 11 appearances out of the bullpen last season may be a sign that the 36-year old right-hander doesn’t have the stamina necessary to be a successful starter anymore. Also, Park’s 4.81 ERA and 146 hits given up in 136.2 innings last season may put him in a more insurance policy role, in case a starter gets injured during the course of the season, in a role very similar to that of Jose Lima’s last season and give the Mets much more depth at starting pitcher than they had last season. Despite that, the options the team has may not be as viable as the team needs to be extremely successful.

Right now, it looks like Randolph and the team’s pitching coach Rick Peterson will be giving Oliver Perez every opportunity to make the staff and John Maine seems to be the front-runner for the number three slot. For the time being however, the Mets don’t want to want to discuss Maine’s possible addition to the staff, despite acknowledging that he’s capable of helping the team win.

"John Maine is a quality arm who is going to help us win this year,” Mets GM Omar Minaya told MLB.com. “That's enough for now."

With that being said, that leaves one spot left on the staff with six pitchers available to fill it until Martinez rejoins the team. Mets fans may be happy that they won’t have to experience another instance of “Lima time” with the addition of depth the team has now in their rotation this season, but that doesn’t mean the Mets have enough quality starting pitching to reclaim their NL East crown.