Lastings Milledge went from golden boy to enigmatic, overly brash outfielder before he even took a swing at the big league level. The Mets spent the winter trying to deal him, but his stock dropped a bit and that contributed to them not being able to extract proper value for him. Now? The Mets lack of faith in him continues.
Martinez is as talented as he is young. But fellow outfielder Carlos Gomez is more advanced and likely to reach the big leagues sooner, maybe even by the end of the 2007, but certainly by the end of the 2008 season.
The club's whispered fantasy is to have Martinez (probably in left) and Gomez flanking Carlos Beltran when the new ballpark, Citi Field, opens in 2009.
Not only does Lastings have to silence the critics in the media (which could be seemingly impossible with the NY media), but he has to silence the people in his own organization who have lost faith in him.
"This team is going to be it for the next decade. I want to be here for that, for the dynasty we're building and the new stadium. I want to be on the best team, on the Mets in New York. That's why I'm glad I'm here." -- Milledge, on his place with the Mets and his inclusion in so many trade rumors and reports
Milledge showed up to camp with some extra muscle and a new attitude. Throw on top of that Milledge flashing some of his tools that made and still make a lot of scouts drool. The character around the clubhouse is a direct result of the players that Omar Minaya brought in and those players will have a big effect on Milledge. Lastings might not have a big chance at making this team out of Spring Training. In fact, I do not think he has much of a chance even if he tears it up and Green sucks. However, Lastings might end up making it an extremely hard decision for Omar to not bring him north once the dust settles.
Am I the only person who thinks the Mets made a mistake by not resigning Steve Trachsel? El Duque is already hurting in 2007. It amazes me how much people love Oliver Perez and his 6.00-plus ERA. He would have been a goat in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series if not for one of the greatest catches in the history of baseball by Endy Chavez. And people want Perez in the rotation. Yet people point out Tracshel's 4.97 ERA as being bad. I see him as a guy who will start 30 games and be a consistent starter.
-- Billy M., Tallahassee, Fla.
I can't shoot many holes in what you say. But Perez clearly has a higher ceiling than Trachsel, and the last month of Trachsel's time with the Mets -- his absence from late regular-season games and his performance in the postseason pretty much ushered him out of New York. The Mets won 20 of his 30 starts. If Perez makes 30 starts -- i.e., if he pitches well enough to be part of the rotation for the entire season -- the Mets will be delighted.
I wonder if Billy M. had a straight face on when he wrote that question.
Mulvey, who is from Parlin, N.J., and played at Villanova, throws a fastball, curve, changeup and slider. He's hit 96 mph on the radar gun and can throw between 92 and 94 on a regular basis, said Rick Waits, the Mets' Minor League pitching coordinator.
"Usually a young pitcher might have command of one or two of his pitches," Waits said. "But Kevin has four solid pitches he can throw for strikes. It's a rare pitcher you can say that about."
As much promise as the two pitchers may hold, they both have well-defined shortcomings. Maine's off-speed repertoire is sorely short-handed, which is bound to hurt him if he doesn't perfect the changeup that he's been working on this spring. And though everybody loves Perez's stuff, his control is a huge issue.
The baseball world is not buying into the idea that these two are going to pan out, but I have faith. Maybe it's blind faith, but I still have faith.
"If someone says to you, 'I'm lost,' what would be the first thing that you would respond?" Peterson, the Mets' pitching coach, asked. "Where do you want to go? It's a logical question. Can you show me your map? [Perez said] 'I don't have one.' No wonder you're lost."
It is really scary what the Pirates managed to do to him.
"I'm back," Perez said. "I'm happy. The last few games I was feeling really good. I know that's me. After the season I was trying to continue to learn and understand about what happened last year. Now that feels like a long time ago. The Mets believed in me. I understand I can do this. That's why I'm here."
As for Pelfrey, he reminds me a lot of Verlander. A guy that didn't have all that much time in the minors and got a bit roughed up in limited exposure to the bigs in his first pro season. Pelfrey's fastball can certainly set him up for success in '07 at the big league level.
How fast he grasps command of that pitch will dictate when he comes to the majors. Why get rid of the curveball?
"When you make adjustments with pitch selection with pitchers, it's based on making an off-speed pitch that matches the strength of your fastball," Peterson explained.
"So if you got a power sinker, that's going at this angle," Peterson said, making a left to right cutting motion with his right hand, "the best thing that you can do is have a pitch that goes softer in the opposite angle."
How does Peterson get this point across to pitchers like Pelfrey?
"I use this analogy," he said. "I ask them, 'Do you like vanilla ice cream?'
'Do you like ketchup?'
'Do you like ketchup on your vanilla ice cream?'
'Not a good mix.' "
Swellicious. One thing about being a good teacher is being able to get people to understand what you are talking about. I'm not specifically referring to Peterson's little analogies when I say this, but Peterson seemingly has the ability to get pitchers that have the desire listen and learn to do the right things to make them better.
"You look at these Fortune 500 companies," Peterson said, "and they come out with new products, and people go, 'It's so simple. Why didn't I think of that?' And the reason is, you didn't have that vision.
"You only see it after someone showed it to you. It's not really telling them what to see, but where to look. So they can see it in their own way."
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