Much has been made about the lack of potential upgrades to the New York Mets rotation this offseason and, by and large, the reason for concern is legitimate.
Every slot in the rotation has a question mark next to its given name. Even Johan Santana, to a lesser extent, could be cause for concern after suffering season ending surgery last season.
But what if, somehow, Oliver Perez is new and improved? John Maine's shoulder holds up? Mike Pelfrey reverts back to 2008 form and if the Mets find a dependable starter in the fifth spot?
The Mets still have an All-star closer in Fransisco Rodriguez, even if, he stumbled a bit in the second half but the true problem remains who do the Mets have to piece the bridge come the seventh and eighth innings?
Once again, general manager Omar Minaya took a high risk gamble by putting too much stock in a player who essentially missed two seasons due to arthroscopic surgery in Kelvim Escobar.
Privately, the members within organization were so enthusiastic about Escobar they talked of him being the primary set-up man for Rodriguez but Jerry Manuel confirmed that Escobar’s shoulder weakness will likely keep him on the disabled list for the rest of spring and possibly for the beginning of the season.
Beyond, that the Mets are hard pressed to find anything closely resembling a set-up man.
Pedro Feliciano has been excellent as a specialist who shuts down lefties (even if he did give up four home runs to them last year) but cannot be counted on to get out righties.
Sean Green was supposed to make fans forget about Joe Smith with his sinker but did not and because of his inconsistency is now in the midst of a delivery change.
Bobby Parnell’s fastball can reach triple digits but is straight as a dart and he hasn’t mastered his secondary pitches enough to make them effective out of the pen or in the rotation.
Jerry Manuel speaks of Jenrry Mejia, who has a hard live fastball that reaches 98 mph, possibly saving his job, but the 20-year-old did struggle at Binghamton, double A, going 0-5 with a 4.47 earned run average.
The Mets did import Japanese standout, Ryota Igarashi, who was a bona fide closer in the Far East but needs to adjust to life in the Major Leagues.
And with all the turmoil surrounding the bullpen, one has to ask why Minaya would've been so quick to trade the dependable Brian Stokes for the grossly underwhelming Gary Matthews Jr.? Everyone in the baseball world understands that losing Carlos Beltran for at least the first month hurts but the Mets did have Angel Pagan whose defense and bat were one of the bright spots in an otherwise terrible 2009 campaign.
Maybe Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya are hoping that the pitching staff answers all those questions marks and they won’t need to rely on the bullpen or that the mended lineup that lacked home run capability will suddenly out-slug all their opponents.
Maybe they are hoping the stars align for the New York Mets and who knows? They are a lot of stars in the sky.