So anyway, pitchers. Can't live with'em, can't just replace them with machines that throw hellish 98 mile per hour sliders. Not yet, anyhow, which means Met fans have to choose one of the following:
- Rationality: Johan Santana is the only thing going for this group but he's also awesome so the team will be worth watching every fifth day.
- Hope: One of the young Met pitchers (Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver!) who wandered in the wilderness last year will put it back together and the Mets will have a decent 1-2 punch.
- Optimism: A second pitcher from that group will put together a season that's a little better than average thus giving the Mets the same kind of rotation most of the league has.
- Irrational optimism: Pelfrey, Maine and Oliver! all have repeats of their best seasons*. Comes with a free copy of Dow 36,000.
- Mike Pelfrey: Want to know what will be good for Mike Pelfrey? The left side of the infield with the continuing emergence of David Wright as a good defender and the return of Jose Reyes to shortstop, replacing future first ballot Bautista High School Wall of Famer Alex Cora. What won't be good for Mike Pelfrey is the right side of the infield with Daniel Murphy and Luis "Oldboy" Castillo playing what can only charitably be described as first and second base. The only way those two could be more dangerous for Pelfrey is if they actually planted land mines around the mound. My only hope is that lefties get so pull crazy on him trying to hit to Murphy or Castillo that they just roll over the ball and tap out weak grounders. FUN FACT: In three of his four professional seasons, Mike Pelfrey has had n unsightly 5+ ERA!
- Oliver!: I think a better thing for the Mets to do with Oliver! than expect him to pitch well would be to put a blindfold on him before he goes out there and then have him let loose. See, it's psychological warfare, just daring the batter to step in there and possibly catch a fastball to the dome. And even though he whined about the blast shield being down, being blindfolded helped Luke Skywalker become a Jedi, so, you know, this system does have a history of positive results. Anyway, Oliver! can't possibly be as bad as he was last year. FUN FACT: That is something Mets fans will be telling ourselves for at least one more spring! ANOTHER FUN FACT: "Jedi" is a proper noun!
- John Maine: The forgotten man, mostly because he embodied more of the hurt side of the team than the awful side last year. The worst you can say about John Maine is that you don't trust him to ever be healthy again, which is bad, but even with his severely weakened shoulder or whatever it is he had he was just below league average. Just below average would have been miraculous on last year's Met squad and maybe they could have won 80 games instead of 70. Yipes. Of the group of three, I think it's most reasonable to expect something from Maine, a flyball/strikeout pitcher in a huge ballpark. FUN FACT: There was another John Maine in the Mets' system in 1970! He was terrible!
If the Mets aren't going to a four man rotation, then only one thing is possible: they had so much fun not having a fifth starter last year, they're going to do it all again! In a race that's impossible to handicap, the likes of Nelson Figueroa, Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Sandy Koufax, Weff Jilpon and Hisanori Takahashi will compete this spring to be the guy Met fans wish was Joel Piniero. All of these players have various weaknesses (we don't know if Niese still has a hamstring, Jilpon is obviously just Jeff Wilpon in a Kenny Powers mullet wig) but the most interesting one is Takahashi, who is described as a Tom Glavine type, which obviously means he can most relied upon to give up seven runs in one-third of an inning against barely MLB-grade competition when his team needs him the most. Hachachachacha!
It's gonna be a long season.
*Best seasons with the Metropolitans, that is. Anyone who thinks Oliver! is going to repeat his 2004 season, ever, is beyond help.