Mets Pitching Staff Facing Problems
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, March 11, 2007

If Duaner Sanchez’s problems with punctuality weren’t enough, the Mets have another problem on their hands of much larger magnitude this spring training: what to do with their pitching staff.

With Tom Glavine, John Maine, Pedro Feliciano and Mike Pelfrey being the only Mets pitchers from last season showing any type of prowess on the field through seven games of Spring Training, Mets manager Willie Randolph may be forced to rely on several new additions to bolster the staff as a whole if the team is serious about defending their NL East crown.

One of those players may be former Brooklyn Cyclone Joe Smith, whose submarine-style throwing motion may be a perfect fit in a New York bullpen that lost Chad Bradford to the Orioles. As well, Smith has been superb so far this Spring Training and hasn’t given up a run yet in four innings of work. However, the Mets may be reluctant to use the 22-year-old at the Major League this season because he has yet to play a game in Triple-A. Nevertheless, the Mets still seem very interested in making Smith’s major league dreams a reality as soon as possible.

"That's nasty stuff," Randolph told the Associated Press when asked about Smith’s repertoire that includes a low 90’s fastball and slider that has baffled everyone that has seen it thus far. "He's one of those guys that you definitely pay attention to."

Another pitcher who seems to be making up for the early ineptitude of hurlers such as former first-round picks Kevin Mulvey and Phillip Humber and journeyman Aaron Sele [who currently all have ERA’s greater than 10.00] is Chan Ho Park. Despite visa problems that forced him to miss his first start, Park came back and threw three solid innings against the Red Sox on March 7 and looks to be a serious contender for a spot in the Mets starting rotation.

"I felt very good this past offseason," Park told MLB.com after the game. "Especially physically, after surgery last year. I worked a lot and tried to get stronger. It's a new team. I'm trying to get a job. I want to show myself I can do it better than I pitched in past years."

The Mets are hoping that Park can return to form as well. Randolph, so far has no complaints.

“His stuff's good enough to get some ground balls and make some pitches,” Randolph told MLB.com. “It's just the fact that I wasn't really going and looking for anything more than what I saw, getting his work in. And if he did struggle a little bit, just overthrowing the ball a little bit -- I was pleased with what I saw."

With so many of his pitchers having problems finding the plate through the first handful of games this Spring Training, it’s a safe assumption that Randolph is happy that guys like Smith and Park are showing how badly they want to be a part of the staff.