One of the visitors who leaves comments on this blog, Dave, gave a lot of thought to the one he left on September 9; however, his philosophy as how the New York Mets should fill vacancies in their 2008 starting rotation differs dramatically from mine.
I'd commented that I'd set aside spots for Tom Glavine and El Duque, if they both return, and put the other three up for grabs. That seemed to surprise Dave, who responded "Have they [Maine and Perez] not already proven themselves as legitimate starters this season?"
That's a valid question.
"Proven" themselves? To me, no.
In my book, a pitcher has proven himself when he can produce quality starts on a consistent basis. As of September 8th, Tom Glavine had 21 quality starts in 29 starts (72%), El Duque 17 in 23 (74%), John Maine 15 in 28 (54%), and Oliver Perez 14 in 25 (56%).
A pitcher who can produce a quality start in at least 70% of his starts has proven himself to me. A pitcher who can only produce a quality start about half the time he's on the mound hasn't. Glavine has proven himself, as has El Duque.
As a result, I'd make both John Maine and Oliver Perez compete for spots with Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Adam Bostick, Jason Vargas, and Kevin Mulvey. The Mets need to give their best pitching prospects a better chance to make it into their rotation than they have in the past. Otherwise,what message are they sending to them? Pitch well so you can pitch for someone else?
In pro football, many coaches in training camp encourage competition for all positions except possibly a few manned by stars. It adds a spark to the camp. If the Mets did that next string training with their starting rotation, I believe it would have the same effect. If either Maine or Perez complains, so be it. Let's see if they have the wherewithal to ward off the challengers. And if they don't, that should send a message loud-and-clear to the Mets front office.
It's all about winning, not maintaining the status quo just to keep players happy.
To make matters more interesting, the Mets should invite Dylan Owen to spring training. Last night in Brooklyn's first playoff game, Owen pitched five innings of four-hit, no walk, shutout ball in which he struck out seven. He's continuing to pitch in the playoffs as he did during the regular season when he led the New York-Penn League in both wins and ERA while compiling a strikeout to walk ratio of almost 6 to 1. If any Mets' pitching prospect deserves a chance to rub shoulders with its big leaguers, it's Owen. And though he's a long shot to win a spot in the rotation, he's a winner, so I wouldn't bet against him.
Finally — Dave, keep the comments coming. You've stirred up my thinking, and I really appreciate it.