Mets Rumors & News
This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 at 10:27 pm and is filed under Baseball, Mets Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

I’ve thought all along that the Mets will be a second-half team this season. Their rotation is constructed to hold the fort until Pedro Martinez‘s triumphant return, their bullpen can piece it together until Guillermo Mota and Duaner Sanchez return to action, and their minor league depth is such that they are in a prime position to make a big-time acquisition as the trade deadline approaches.

That said, the team still needs to keep pace with the rest of the division while they brace for the calvary. The team is currently only a half game back from the division-leading Braves, and Atlanta will have to face the next couple of weeks without their closer Bob Wickman. Still at 15-9, the Amazin’s are one Yankee-like swan dive away from .500 baseball, and there are plenty of reasons for the fans and team alike to be concerned.

Surprisingly, I’m not worried about El Duque. People knew going in that the brittle pitcher would be lucky to give the Mets more than 20 starts this year. John Maine has emerged as a capable #2, and has arguably been the staff’s ace during the season’s first month. Oliver Perez seems to have righted himself, and at least is showing that he will provide the team with more stellar outings than disastrous ones (though there are bound to be plenty of those as well).

If the injury to El Duque means anything, it means that Mike Pelfrey will have to straighten out his game, beginning with tonight’s start at Shea. The pitcher is 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA and was widely assumed to be pitching for his roster spot coming into this week’s start. Now the Mets can’t afford to demote him without committing to the abysmal Chan Ho Park in the rotation. Either way, it seems probably that Jorge Sosa can expect a phone call sooner than later. The 30-year-old starter is 4-0 for AAA-New Orleans this season with a 1.13 ERA and 29 strikeouts.

More troubling is the Mets’ lineup, already hurting from the lack of production from Carlos Delgado and David Wright, and now faced with the prospect of compensating for the absence of Jose Valentin and Moises Alou. Over the last two seasons, the Mets have never really had to panic over their pitching due to their confidence that they can out-score any opponent. Now that confidence could be tested.

The Mets claim that Valentin will be back on the field in 2-4 weeks, and yet the team has confirmed that the second baseman is indeed suffering from a partial tear of his ACL, and not simply a severe strain. An ACL tear is a serious injury, and while not every instance requires surgery, the injury calls for intense physical therapy to stabilize the knee joint. In particular the ACL is the ligament under most strain when a player plants and pivots. I’m skeptical that a middle infielder could come back from such an injury so quickly and maintain his ability to effectively turn a double-play. We must keep in mind also that Valentin underwent surgery on the same knee in 2005 to repair his ACL – a procedure in which the torn ligament is removed and replaced with tissue from elsewhere in the body.

While team doctors have advised Valentin that he will not need surgery, it appears that Valentin’s contract status could also be a factor in the decision not to operate. According to Newsday, Valentin needs to reach 400 plate appearances this season in order to activate a $4.3-million option in his contract for next season. In an ideal world, Valentin will return from the DL and be a productive player for the Mets. More likely, in my mind, the Mets will have to go out and find another alternative at second base.

Meanwhile, despite manager Willie Randolph‘s best efforts to afford his left fielder rest when possible, Moises Alou is showing why he’s missed 103 games to injury over the last two seasons. After a fairly innocuous crash into the outfield fence, Alou’s shoulder is ailing, and there is concern that he may join his fellow joltin’ geriatrics on the DL. If that proves to be the case, the Mets are looking at the prospect of trotting out Damion Easley and Endy Chavez every day as they try to stay above water in what everyone expects to be a competitive division race. As scary as that idea might seem, the two bench reserves might be larger threats at the plate right now than No. 4 and 5 hitters Delgado and Wright, both of whom look lost out there.

It was a given going into the season that GM Omar Minaya would have to tinker with his roster before October. Now it seems that changes might be needed sooner than anticipated.

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