I think it’s high-time to start putting together a playoff roster. I’ll divide this piece into two sections. This week, I’ll lay out the candidates. Next week, I’ll sift through the debates and roster management issues and try to produce an actual playoff roster.
In traditional Bill Simmons format, here are some classifications of Met players and their playoff roster candidacies:
David Wright (3B)
Jose Reyes (SS)
Carlos Beltran (CF)
The Mets’ big three carry the team, undoubtedly. Wright’s solidifying an MVP season with a stellar September (he’s taken over the race, in my mind, over the past three weeks). Reyes is one of the best shortstops in the league, and Beltran’s conveniently crushing the ball down the stretch.
Barring Injury, Starters
Pedro Martinez (P)
Tom Glavine (P)
Martinez and Glavine simply don’t fit into the bullpen mix at this time. “Fragile” should be the operative word with Pedro, and throwing him in relief might “blow the whole works,” to quote Ed Harris from Apollo 13. And Glavine’s a starter, through and through, what with the 73% quality start percentage. The ERA’s not gorgeous, but Glavine’s kept the Mets in almost every game he’s pitched.
Orlando Hernandez (P)
Oliver Perez (P)
John Maine (P)
I think that your first impulse here has to be El Duque to the ‘pen, because he’s done it with such acumen in the past. But Duque’s been marvelous this year as a starter, and Perez and Maine have been spotty over the past couple of months. Since the All-Star Break:
Name GS IP HR BB K RA
Perez 11 66.0 10 34 71 4.91
Maine 11 58.3 11 26 53 6.82
The last column, run average, is like ERA, but it includes unearned runs as well. Neither has pitched their way into the playoff rotation, though Perez has been substantially better.
What I do think is important is that the odd man out not be relegated to long relief. Maine, Perez, and El Duque all have the stuff for higher-leverage work.
The Rest of the Bats
Luis Castillo (2B)
Moises Alou (LF)
Carlos Delgado (1B)
Endy Chavez (OF)
Paul Lo Duca (C)
Marlon Anderson (UTIL/PH)
Ramon Castro (C)
Ruben Gotay (2B)
The eight non-core bats that are absolutely making it, provided all are healthy. Castillo, Alou, Delgado, and Lo Duca bring the everyday players list up to seven. Chavez can’t be left off after last year’s heroics (and he’s also spectacular defensively), Anderson has been “the greatest pinch hitter on the planet,” as Gary Cohen says, Castro’s been great as the backup catcher, and Gotay’s been good in a pinch.
Now Warming Up in the Bullpen…
Billy Wagner (P)
Pedro Feliciano (P)
Aaron Heilman (P)
Wagner, Heilman, and Feliciano are on the team. With the exception of a couple of bad stretches, Wagner and Feliciano have been two of the better left-handed relievers in the game this year. And, though he’s suffered from an acute case of gopheritis this season, Heilman fits into Randolph’s bullpen as a high-leverage, middle-innings guy. When he keeps the ball down, he’s very tough.
I hope that I’ve done my best, so far, to lay out the 19 guaranteed fits for the roster. Six spots remain.
Shawn Green (RF)
Normally, I’d say that Green was an absolute lock for a spot. But management loves Gomez, Milledge has played well offensively and defensively, and if both youngsters make the team, the Mets would be carrying six outfielders (Anderson, Beltran, Gomez, Milledge, Alou, Chavez) even before Green’s spot. Since coming back from his injury in early June, Green has hit .253/.298/.365 in 67 games (62 games started). Green’s a likely selection, but he’s no guarantee.
Jeff Conine (1B)
Lastings Milledge (OF)
Mike DiFelice (C)
Carlos Gomez (OF)
Anderson Hernandez (2B)
Some of these guys are more likely than others. Quickly laying out a case for each guy (we’ll dive it a bit more next week):
– Conine: “grit,” reliability, and right-handedness
– Milledge: youth, hitting, defense
– DiFelice: allows Castro to be used as a pinch hitter
– Gomez: youth, speed, defense
– Hernandez: legitimate infield defensive replacement, good for Castillo’s knees
The Bullpen Mess
Jorge Sosa (P)
Scott Schoeneweis (P)
Guillermo Mota (P)
Aaron Sele (P)
Joe Smith (P)
Now the story gets interesting. Schoeneweis, Mota, and Sele have earned the wrath of Met fans all season. All three are still in the mix, though: Show for his potential to be a LOOGY, Sele for his potential to eat innings, and Mota for… well, I’m not really sure.
Smith was lights out for two months and has quietly disappeared with arm fatigue. With New Orleans, Smith threw nine innings and gave up a couple of runs. Here’s the line: 8 G, 9 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 5 K. More importantly, Smith’s been on the AAA DL with some bicep tendinitis. He’s in the mix, too.
And Sosa? He’s been pretty solid since moving to the pen, where he has stranded 11 of 12 inherited runners. His overall line: 18 G, 22.7 IP, 21 H, 7 R, 0 HR, 7 BB, 15 K.
The Interesting Gamble
Mike Pelfrey (P)
Quietly, I have been hoping that Pelfrey proves enough in the season to earn a bullpen spot in the playoffs. The heavy sinker should work to keep the ball in the park, and he might be able to add a couple miles per hour to his already-mid 90s fastball if he’s working in relief. I think the Mets should give him a couple of outings in the pen this month and see how he acquits himself (remember, process over results on this one). If he looks comfortable, he might be worth the gamble.
Philip Humber (P)
Willie Collazo (P)
Jon Adkins (P)
This really means “No Shot,” but I wanted to get them on the list.
Next week, I’ll flesh this out and do my best to construct a logical playoff roster.