FLUSHING, NY – There are going to a number of questions for the New York Mets this off-season, including what to do about catcher, first base, left field, the starting staff and the bullpen.
And general manager Omar Minaya – or whomever is in his role – will have to answer them one by one.
John Maine, though, may have made the team’s job just a little easier after his 7-inning, 5-hit, 1-run, and over 100-pitch performance against the Houston Astros. The outing proves he is fully healthy from and back from his shoulder woes which kept him out for almost three months this season.
“I think you need to remain optimistic,” said manager Jerry Manuel. “He has shown improvement since his time back. He has been getting a lot of ground balls which means he is getting life on his pitches, which has been his trademark. When you see that against the one of the better hitting lineups in the National League, it gives us a lot of hope.”
Hope is what the Mets need as they head into this crossroads off-season. If you look at the Mets staff, it is pretty much Johan Santana and lots of prayer. Yet, a healthy Maine may have saved Minaya a novena or two.
There’s no doubt the Mets will need another pitcher, no matter how good Maine plays. After Santana, the drop-off is just that large. But a healthy righthander will take pressure off Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey on the back-end. And if the team goes out and gets, say a Roy Holladay or some other 1A to compliment their ace, they still will need a guy like Maine as a No. 3.
“I want to go out and be consistent,” Maine said. “I am not going to win 20 games, but I want to be a guy who goes out there and gives the team a chance to win everyday.”
If Maine performs like he did tonight, then he will. The pitcher came in with a strong slider which complimented his fastball. When he does that, the righty becomes very hard to hit.
Yet, all of this will happen next year. The season is over, but Maine now has peace of mind, because he can go into this off-season knowing he’s fully healthy.
“I think I am feeling fine the last few starts,” he said. “I am feeling fine. I had some questions from this year and now pitching answers them.”
And with that, one off-season Mets question is now answered.