Since the failures of generation K, the Mets have babied their pitching prospects and were not high on rushing them along. However, that contributed to the reasoning behind dumping Scott Kazmir. They said he was two or three years away, but in reality, he was lot closer. How many minor league innings the person has pitched should be irrelevant. Kazmir should have been moving up faster than he was. Your skill and performance should dictate where you go and how fast you move up, not your time served.
When the Mets were looking to fill a void in the NY rotation, it was deemed that he was simply to far away because he still needed to serve a full year at Binghamton and a full year at Norfolk and had to pitch X amount of minor league innings. The Mets were not inclined to deviate from that path. When Scott was traded to Tampa Bay, they had no such inclination to let him wallow around the minors for a year or two and he showed flashes of what he can really do. Though wild, he did not give up more hits than innings pitched, posted an 11.07 K/9, and posted a .256 BAA. Not bad for a 21 year old.
In the case of Yusmeiro Petit, it seems the new Met regime is not adhering to the old policy of not rushing pitchers. Omar is letting the pitcher determine when they are ready to move up or down and is not shying away from giving them Major League innings. Yusmeiro has started two games for the Mets Major League squad an that is something that was unheard of for a 20 year old in the years past in the Mets organization. Petit looked good. He looked better than some other pitchers that I've seen this spring and it looks like he has the stuff to compete at the highest level despite not having a blazing fastball.
In 2005, Petit will not be spending a year at AA unless he gets shelled. If he continues to put up gaudy numbers in Binghamton he will find his way into the Norfolk rotation sooner rather than later. If he continues to pitch well for Norfolk, he could see major league service in 2005 should an opportunity present itself and will certainly be a September call up. The Mets will not be telling Yusmeiro when he is ready, but Yusmeiro will be telling the Mets when he is ready.
All in all, it was a great look at him and what he can do. He never topped 87 during the entire game though his fastball is rumored to be in the 88-91 range. He never sniffed 90 but had great movement on his pitches and has a nice tight breaking pitch that he used on a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera. It would have been interesting to see him work out of his bases loaded jam with no outs and Carlos Delgado at the plate, but Willie was not going to have anything of that match up. It was great to get a good chance to see him pitch.
Also in the game, Koo looked pretty good. He threw two shutout innings, with three K's, and no hits allowed. If Omar wants to do the right thing, Heredia gets released and he brings up Matthews and Koo. Koo brings more to the table in having the ability to spot start and looks to be much more talented than Felix Heredia. Do it Omar.
"They got scared, I guess," McGinley joked before joining the major league team here. "They thought I'd dominate too much."
4. Can pitching coach Rick Peterson break through to the Mets' 4-5 starters?
Leo Mazzone coaxed 15 wins out of Jaret Wright last season, and Orel Hershiser helped make a 14-game winner out of Ryan Drese in Texas. Now it's Peterson's turn to transform a project into a contributor.
Actually, two projects. With Steve Trachsel out at least three months after back surgery, the Mets have to straighten out human walk machines Victor Zambrano and Kaz Ishii in the 4-5 spots. A day after the Mets acquired Ishii from Los Angeles, Peterson was working with him on the side trying to get him to use his hands more in his windup.
"If you have a pitching coach who's very hands-on and mechanically oriented, which Rick is, they have a lot to offer,'' said Mets starter Tom Glavine. "You certainly see it with Leo in Atlanta. He's taken a lot of guys and turned their careers around.''
Ishii wore out Jim Tracy and the Dodgers' brass with his 99-to-98 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. And the Devil Rays, despite a lack of veteran starting pitching, couldn't wait to move Zambrano. He's capable of pitching lights-out at times, but made manager Lou Piniella squirm with his incessant nibbling.
If Zambrano and Ishii run up huge pitch counts early, they'll put pressure on a thin Mets bullpen and negate the team's defensive upgrades. The Mets should be much stronger in the field this year, with Doug Mientkiewicz at first base, Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes turning double plays and Carlos Beltran chasing down everything in center. But it won't matter much if 40 percent of their rotation can't throw strikes.