Time To Kiss The Ace Good Bye?

It might seem implausible, perhaps even blasphemous to some that the very star that put the Mets on the map two winters ago might not be the ace you want on the mound when the playoffs start in a few weeks.

No tears this time around but no real joy either...

Granted, there was no early inning meltdown, no string of ineffectiveness or an emotional breakdown in the dugout this time around. In fact, for the first four innings last night Pedro looked, well, vintage Pedro.

Flyout, groundout, strikeout in the first, walk, groundout doubleplay, strikeout in the second, popout, groundout strikeout in the third and flyout, strikeout, strikeout in the 4th. After four innings The Mets Messiah had returned.

But the fifth inning wasn't as kind. It's down to match fitness, no doubt, which is what happens to a pitcher who is only 5'11 180, aging, coming off an injury and had thrown what, four innings in the last month and a half?

It happens and if the Mets ride this inevitable tide (shout out to the Norfolk) in the postseason and make it to the World Series Pedro will have had at least another three or four starts to get match fit and well, Game One we would want to see him out there.

But in the first game of the Divisional Series, I'm not so sure.

I wouldn't be afraid of letting Glavine and El Duque have a go, both of whom are fresh, both of whom have had more time to return to form following layoffs and both of whom have pitched well in recent starts. It's called riding the hot hand and whilst Pedro might be a hot hand by late October at the moment he still looks easily fatigued and tentative which is basically what is to be expected.

Now Willie has stuck with Pedro as his starter number one (with the occasional qualifyier like "at the moment") for the postseason and barring any major setback, that is precisely where Pedro will be once the season ends. Your ace gets those starts, presuming your ace is healthy and can pitch more than half a game effectively.

Chances are, if he's going to pitch Game One against the Dodgers, or Padres or Phillies (and hey don't discount these Marlins just yet,) he'll only get one more start before that and whilst a start in the NLDS and a start in the NLCS would be more than ample preparation for a Game One start in the World Series, it might be a little overzealous to think he's ready to rush out there in prime time when he's still coming back. Let's not forget he's auld and battered and fragile. Let's not wreck this World Series train before it pulls out of the station.

And let's not forget that since 1st of May the Mets record in Pedro's 17 starts is a distinctly unimposing 6-11.

That doesn't mean he can still be the ace or the hero but frankly, he doesn't have to be any more, he's gotten us this far and the team can take it the rest of the way if need be.


So the Mets announced that they're abandoning Norfolk next season as their AAA farm club after 37 years for the gloom and doom of New Orleans.

"...the bottom line is we also wanted to be in a warm-weather area," Mets general manager Omar Minaya explained Thursday.

Warm weather is an understatement. It gets unbearably hot and humid in New Orleans in the summer, not to mention that it is Mother Nature's most recent ground zero.

I have to admit to being a little puzzled by this move. Are they getting a great deal financially to move there? Certainly moving twice the distance from New York can't be the rationale. Certainly moving to an area devastated by flooding and economically crippled can't be the rationale.

Perhaps it's just part of a new fad.

After all, Washington is switching from New Orleans to Columbus, with the New York Yankees going from the Clippers to Scranton. Philadelphia is leaving the Red Barons for a new stadium in Allentown scheduled to open in 2008 and will affiliate with Ottawa for next year, where the Orioles had been and the Orioles are now moving to Norfolk.

Wouldn't the Triple AAA site at Rochester have made more sense? Even Columbus would have been closer than New Orleans.

Sometimes the mysteries are less profound than they appear. After all, New Orleans is a helluva lot closer to the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico.


Just a little reminder that no matter what Pedro's struggles end up meaning in the long run at least we don't have this jackal on our side when the chips are down. Looks like the Betty Ford Clinic might be his next stop. Whatever happened to spraying champagne to celebrate clinching your division title by losing?


sanchez said...

Petey is the man to take us all the way, how dare you suggest otherwise?!

Nice photo of Giambi by the way - what a loser.

kyle in newport news said...

Local radio (Newport News and Norfolk are in the same market) was explaining that our area used to get Mets games on some kind of a television superstation, back in the early days of the Tides-Mets affiliation, and that interest in the Tides waned when we stopped receiving that broadcast -- which must have been over fifteen years ago, or I would have seen it myself, instead of all of those goddamn Braves and Cubs games.

Maybe part of the thinking in the move is that interest will continue to wane now that Newport News/Norfolk/Etc has its own local (kinda) team in the Nationals. That warmer climate stuff does, indeed, sound like malarkey.

kyle in newport news said...

Everything is relative. Here's a quote from Sam Perlozzo in the ESPN.com article on the O's move:

"I think it's a tremendous move for us," Perlozzo said Saturday. "We wondered why we would get a little thin in Triple-A. Now, I think it's going to be a lot easier to sign some six-year guys [minor league free agents] that will come to a stadium like Norfolk and be in the good weather."