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Wednesday Notes

While I applaud the additions of Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to the Mets, and quietly ponder the rationale for trading a top prospect for a mediocre catcher, it's probably their starting pitching that will make or break the team.

Pedro should still be a top flight ace and Glavine will likely be solid yet unspectacular, as he has for the past three seasons as a Met. I am very low on Kris Benson right now, however, and I really bemoan the Mets' blasé courtship of the Diamondbacks' Javy Vazquez, who has now been traded to the pitching-rich White Sox.

It's not so much that Benson has thus far pitched uninspiringly for the entirety of his career, or that he was a #1 overall pick yet has never really pitched well enough to be considered anything better than a decent #3 starter. His peripherals last year really bother me. His walk rate was fine (2.53 BB/9) but his strikeout rate was the lowest of his career (4.90 K/9) and his homerun rate was awful (1.24 HR/9) despite playing in a very good park for pitchers. He has never been an overpowering strikeout pitcher, but his inability to miss bats last season was alarming, and definitely a cause for concern.

Ther was some talk that he abandoned one of his pitches early in the season and was basically a two-pitch pitcher the rest of the way. Whatever the case, I don't have a lot of confidence in him reproducing the decent 4.13 ERA he had last year.

Further down the rotation, my opinion of Benson is contrasted starkly by my opinion of Jae Seo, who I feel will be terrific in 2006. Probably not 2.59 ERA terrific, but his walk rate last year was outstanding (1.59 BB/9) and his homerun rate was good (0.90 HR/9). His strikeout rate wasn't that good (5.88 K/9), though it was very good when he was down with Norfolk early in 2005 (8.21 K/9), so I suspect his true level is somewhere in between.

Though I'm not a huge Steve Trachsel fan, the Mets could do much worse for the back end of their rotation, and assuming he or Benson isn't traded before the season starts the Mets can count on having one of the better staffs in the National League. Just off the top of my head, the Astros and Cardinals will almost certainly be better, the Cubs will probably be better, but otherwise the Mets stack up very well with every other starting rotation in the senior circuit.