John Maine has been injury riddled for most of the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but the Mets do need to make a decision on whether he fits into their plans for the starting rotation in 2010.
After Johan Santana, the Mets starting rotation in 2009 was shaky at best, and even Santana was not healthy enough to finish the season as he required elbow surgery in August.
The only starting pitcher who did manage to escape injury was Mike Pelfrey, but the absence of Maine for most of the season was extremely harmful and disruptive.
The injuries as a whole was the primary story for the Mets in 2009. They had all four of their core position players on the DL, three of them for two months of the season or longer.
David Wright was the only core player who went on the DL and came back off exactly 15 days later and played the remaining games.
Pitchers Oliver Perez and JJ Putz were among the players who missed substantial playing time this season due to injuries, so the starting rotation and bullpen were severely affected by injuries.
Jerry Manuel did have his work cut out for him trying to juggle the pitching rotation and figuring out how off days would affect the starters, especially considering that two of Maine's replacements, Fernando Nieve and Jonathan Niese, also went down with injuries.
Maine started 25 games in 2008 with a 10-8 record. But his season was cut short in August due to bone spurs in his pitching shoulder, which did require surgery in the offseason.
He reported to Spring Training in February and did very well, his presence there was important because of Perez and Santana leaving camp with many of their teammates for participation in the WBC.
There seemed to be little doubt that Maine had put his shoulder problems to rest, the surgery was successful, and 2009 would be a vital season for him in the Mets rotation.
He did make 10 starts but was experiencing fatigue in his arm and shoulder between starts. This was a concern, so they shut him down in early June with "dead arm." He was sent for rest and rehab in Port St Lucie, Florida.
Maine returned to the rotation on September 13 and did have two wins during September, but more important, he felt good and strong even though he was on a strict pitch count during those starts.
The Mets need to boost their starting rotation, and trades and acquisitions are both expected this winter.
John Maine's name is appearing as trade potential to get either a power hitter or a front line starter.
His trade value is pretty low right now due to his having limited starts the last year-and-a-half but if teams see his potential they may decide to let him at least audition for a starting role this spring.
If the Mets are not convinced that he has substantial value to their rotation or bullpen, they may package him with a desirable younger player (Fernando Martinez or Josh Thole) to hopefully entice other teams in a trade.
Omar Minaya is no doubt extremely busy setting his plans in motion, and fans are anxious to know who will survive the winter as a Met and who will be traded or released.
John Maine is 28 years old and he does have incredible potential, but his shoulder health is a question mark.
The Mets have to decide whether to take the chance on putting him in the rotation or to convince another team that he will make a solid contribution to their pitching staff.
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