Monday, August 31, 2009

Mets rotation: Nelson and Pat and pass the hat

"Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" dates back to the late 1940s, when the Boston Braves' rotation was fronted by star pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. That Braves team made it to the World Series in 1948, where they became the last team to lose a World Series to the Cleveland Indians.

At the start of the season, the Met rotation could have been described as "Johan, Pelfrey and Maine and pray for rain." But now it's more like "Redding and Parnell and straight to hell" or, in a nod to Figueroa, Misch and the Mets' financial woes, "Nelson and Pat and pass the hat."

I do feel bad for Parnell, who is taking one for the team by struggling as a starter when he seems much better suited to be a reliever. And it's good to see that Redding, Misch and Figueroa have all pitched well recently.

But it is not realistic to expect any of them to keep it up. Parnell had that one great start against the Giants and has been miserable ever since. Fernando Nieve tailed off after a great start before getting hurt. Jon Niese alternated good starts and bad starts before he got hurt.

It would take a miracle worker to make Figueroa, Misch, Parnell or Redding part of a contending rotation next year. The way things have gone, the same could be true of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez.

But reports are that a miracle worker could be available this winter. Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan might be leaving St. Louis.

Under Duncan, the Cardinals beat the Mets in the 2006 NLCS behind the likes of Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Braden Looper.

By the time Rick Peterson lost his job, few fans complained about replacing the hardwood floor with the Tuscany tile, as Peterson put it at the time. But Peterson helped a lot of pitchers while he was with the Mets, and his methods kept them a lot healthier than they are now.

While some circumstances, such as what he has to work with, are beyond Dan Warthen's control, what exactly are the success stories under Warthen? After the season, the Mets need to think about replacing the "Tuscany tile."

But if Duncan is available, there will probably be a bidding war over him, so the Mets will have to settle for "Big Pelf and everyone else is on the shelf."

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