Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
Well, BASEBALL IS BACK ladies and gentlemen. Spring ball is in full effect. A full actual game has been played. With the Mets deciding to rest all of their aces to start the first week of spring games, we were lead off by Rafael Montero, the new man of mystery. And he........ gave up 4 runs in one inning, walking people, throwing a couple of 'meatballs' and having himself a short outing. So, what are we to really make about any of this?
Montero will play out the entire regular season as a 25 year old. He's not arbitration eligible until 2018. Oh, and he's coming off 10 innings pitched in the previous season.....10...... Oh, i'm sorry, throw in like 2 innings in winter ball and that's what we got here. A young man with ALOT of catching up to do, both with his performance, and in not only resurrecting his baseball career but also his image.
Way back in the year 2014 (wow seems like forever ago) he pitched 44-ish innings at the major league level, and struck out 42 batters. It amounted to a pedestrian but not horrible 4.06 ERA. The most innings he has ever gone in one game is 7.1 innings, in August 6th 2014 against the Cubs
giving up only 1 run, with 6 strikeouts.
Then, amongst all the (internet) turmoil and injuries, four aces all took their place at the throne of Mets pitching towards the second half of this decade. Now, Montero, once a skyrocketing up the minors levels prospect with pinpoint accuracy, is finding himself wondering if he even has a place on the major league roster as a starter OR a reliever.
Even though it's all the rage these days, the Mets bullpen does not have to be full of guys throws 95-100mph. In fact, the 2016 Mets are already making plans for a certain cult like hero to thrown a robust 87-88 out of the pen by mid-late summer. Taking into account, salary, high ceiling and potential, Montero still appears to find himself, pure talent wise, ahead of recently proven guys such as Logan Verrett, Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel in my humble opinion. But regardless of what I think, the game of baseball is played ultimately on the field, and not fully in the media and through twitter. And so after one random start/inning in a SPRING game it's apparently already time to speculate Montero's status with the major league ball club.
The Mets appear 100% set in the rotation. The back end of the bullpen, with things free agency wise being so late in the game at this point, are probably also pretty set with Mets going with Bastardo, Reed and Familia. The question remains what to do with the rest of the bullpen? Based purely on salary, it should start out as an absolute lock for Jerry Blevins to be there as the LOOGY. I've continued to make myself a broken record by stating that Verrett and Goeddel seem to be the same pitcher. Gilmartin remains my wildcard because the young man was pretty darn solid in his role as a long relief guy, who didn't necessarily have the 'goods' to strictly get out lefties in tough spots, but he showing ability to 'save games' that were getting out of hand, and shut teams down for multiple innings to help the rest of the bullpen following a starter's short night. So again, what to make of Montero one inning of spring ball yesterday against a lineup of regulars from the division Nats, while also considering he's pitched about 50 innings of major league ball in TWO YEARS?
The thing about opening week in spring is that it becomes even more important for guys like Montero because, again, as stated earlier, the Mets are holding out the aces for extra rest to start things off, so it's immediate opportunity to get into the fold, and do the preparations one does to 'start' a game like Montero did today.
Also in my humble opinion, Rafael Montero still pretty much finds himself being the number one pitching prospect and option outside of the current rotation + Wheeler. This opinion is based strictly on factors that include arms eligible to be major league ready in 2016, so i'm not talking future. If all 100% healthy, would you choose Gilmartin, Goeddel or Verrett over Montero for a spot start? Is Seth Lugo already now a better option and has he moved past Montero in the pecking order at all of guys set to step in to replace any of the aces as needed?
I don't believe the Mets are 'stuck' with Montero. I believe he is still an asset to this team and organization going forward. I know there's been discussions on Macks Mets numerous times about his ability to transition to the bullpen. We've seen Familia excel at it. We've seen Hansel Robles take his fastball all the way up to 98mph following his transition from starter ( I assume Robles is also a lock for the 2016 bullpen). So what kind of project can we now have for Montero at this point? If he transitions back to starter in the minors, what kind of innings caps might he have coming off such a low innings count last year?
There's still time left in spring. He'll pitch again. For all we know this might technically be his last time pitching the first inning of a spring game, but who knows. There's always those random split squad games and away games where he can be asked to start things up again. Perhaps the one silver lining on a poor start is that he threw 39 pitches to work stuff out ;)
What say you Macks Mets? Is he a starter or reliever? Majors leagues/minor Leagues? Would you want Gilmartin, Verrett or Lugo to get a spot start over him as needed? Do you even still want him on the team or do you just want him to break camp 100% healthy and get traded at some point?