Ah, the fifth starter race continues on meaningless inning after meaningless inning. We know a few things about Spring Training statistics and we know that putting too much stock into those numbers would be a bit silly. The only people who actually have a gauge on what those stats mean are the scouts and coaches that watch the games and even then they could be misleading and not a great indicator of future performance. Tyler Yates and Brian Bannister dominating in pre-season ball offered very little indication as to what they would do during the regular season. Of course Mike Pelfrey is far from Bannister or Yates, but you get the point I'm trying to make.
In similar fashion, Chan Ho Park's performances aren't exactly a perfect barometer for what he would be able to do over the course of the season. Park is for the most part a known quantity and should be a decent fifth starter if given the opportunity. A 4.60 ERA with a steady five + innings per game while giving the Mets a chance to win is what I would expect from him. He was late getting into the action and is better than he is shown in his few innings of work.
What does it all mean? Well, not much. If Pelfrey finishes this spring with a sparkling ERA while Park continues to struggle, it probably will not weigh in all that much come decision time as the Mets probably know what they want to do already. We will continue to see increased scrutiny on each of their starts from the media, but really, the only mitigating factor here is Pelfrey's performance on the negative end of the spectrum. If he pitches badly, like Humber has been, he will get a one way ticket to New Orleans. If he pitches well, he will continue to keep his name in the discussion just because it would be impossible to ignore him completely.
I figure the Mets will be very hesitant to stick Pelfrey in the rotation from the start unless something forces their hand in the form of a complete and utter implosion by Park, which I do not see happening. I wrote about the topic last week in regards to letting the best man win and while there should be evidence supporting Pelfrey as the best man, they are still spring numbers which are for the most part not something to put much stock in.
Sure Park still had trouble in his last start, but as long as he keeps showing flashes of effectiveness with his repertoire, you would have to think that it is his to lose. He would have to not have the ability to complete any of his starts and he would have to be continually ousted early to miss out. Which is the right move? Well, the Mets would probably like to limit Pelfrey to 160 innings during the regular season. The Mets could still monitor Pelfrey's innings and pitches in the bigs, but when you are in the business of trying to win games, those things might get pushed to the side at times.
Limiting his innings would be much easier to do if he started the year at AAA even with the Mets not needing a fifth starter right off the bat. After the talk of how much residual effect Verlander's 200+ innings in '06 is having on him in '07, the Mets are going to steer clear of overworking their future ace. Though the Mets would not be relying as heavily on Pelfrey as the Tigers did with Verlander, they are going to be cautious and bring Pelfrey along more slowly. There is little doubt where Pelfrey will end up by mid-season, but it is hard to envision him at Shea in the beginning.
I had written this and conveniently enough, Rob Neyer's chat touched upon the issue of jobs won and lost in the the spring and Pelfrey's possible inclusion to the rotation.
Slew (Seattle): Do people actually win or lose jobs in spring training, or do good/bad performances just provide cover for decisions that have largely been made in advance? Thanks.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: It's an interesting question. I would guess that every spring, roughly 50 Opening Day roster spots are determined in spring training; mostly relief pitchers and fifth outfielders and infielders. But you know, a lot of those guys are back in the minors within a month or two.
Jay (NYC): Rob, who gets the nod for the 5th starter in NY: Pelfrey or Chan Ho (out of the) Park
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Considering how well Pelfrey's pitched in camp so far, it looks like he's got the inside track. If he can keep throwing those hard sinkers for strikes, the job should be his.
Of course Marty Noble and Rob Neyer know more than me and think Pelfrey has the inside track, but as much as I would like to see big Mike on the team when they go North, I just do not see it.
I got eleven right and four wrong for a 73%. I have no reason to call myself a Mets fan....or a man for that matter.
Green, his batting stance adjusted and his swing corrected, is convinced he will have a productive season. But he isn't sure what that term translates to in terms of home runs while playing at age 34, batting seventh and playing home games in a "fair" ball park, which Shea is.
"Is it 30 home runs or 40? I don't know," he said.
The player, José José, a 16-year-old outfielder, has drawn the interest of a number of baseball’s big-money teams.
The Mets were among the first teams to have a private workout with José. On Monday he drove one ball over the wall in right-center field and hit an assortment of line drives. But he also had his share of foul balls and routine grounders.
Joe (Whitewater,Wi): Will Dice-K live up to the hype???
SportsNation Rob Neyer: I'm sure I'll get this question a few times in every chat between now and Opening Day, so here's my first offering of my standard answer . . . Matsuzaka will be one of the 10 best starters in the American League this season. But whether he's second-best or 10th-best, I wouldn't want to guess.