With just under four weeks till pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation are up in the air but the bullpen is starting to take shape. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) of this week:
With the 1 – 3 spots expected to be filled by Mike Pelfrey, R. A. Dickey & Jon Niese, Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia will all be vying for those back-end spots.
Free agent Jeff Francis signs with the Royals for a one year, $2 million contract and could earn another $2 million in incentives, too steep a price for the budget-conscious Sandy Alderson. Francis was one of two starters that the Mets targeted for the rotation and would have slotted in as the number 4 starter. So the Mets focus their energy on their 2nd choice…
Chris Young, the other free agent on the Mets radar is still close to making a decision on where to play. He is the top remaining starter available now that Jeff Francis has signed with the Royals. The Mets have been rumored to be close to signing Young for two months now. The Nationals were also rumored to have an interest in Young.
Johan Santana has been cleared by Mets doctors to begin a throwing program leading into spring training. That does not mean he will start throwing just that he has been cleared to throw. He’s expected to be out for the year but being the bulldog that he is we may be lucky enough to see him pitch this year.
As of Friday, Oliver Perez has thrown 37 2/3 innings with Los Tomateros de Culiacan in the Mexican Winter League. Perez pitching stats, 5.18 ERA with 29 walks over that span. Saturday night Ollie pitched 2 Innings and gave up 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K & 1 HR. It’s not looking good for Ollie at all and he will have to earn a spot on the roster just like everyone else or I would hope he will get released.
Ryota Igarashi was sent to Triple-A Buffalo where he will be invited to Spring Training to see if he can earn a spot on the Roster.
Mets sign free agent LHP Taylor Tankersley. Tankersley, who will turn 28 in March, posted a 7.50 ERA in 27 games last season, his first action since missing the entire 2009 season with a stress fracture in his left elbow. Tankersley has a 4.58 career ERA in 168 appearances, all with the Marlins, striking out 115 batters in 118 innings.
The bullpen is finally beginning to take shape. In addition to Tankersley, the Mets have also acquired right-handers D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz and Rule 5 selection Pedro Beato this offseason, filling spots behind closer Francisco Rodriguez and setup man Bobby Parnell.