The Mets have finalized their roster, making the final cuts of spring with a few days remaining.
The Mets reassigned Bobby Kielty and Elmer Dessens and notified Fernando Nieve that he will not start the year on the 25-man roster.
That means Marlon Anderson will take the final spot on the bench, aided by his history as a pinch-hitter, not to mention his $1.5 million guaranteed contract. And Darren O'Day claims the final bullpen spot, keeping the Rule V pick with the team.
Nick Evans will stick with the team for the start of the season and will likely be sent to Class AAA Buffalo once Livan Hernandez's first turn through the rotation comes around - although Jerry Manuel insisted that if he's crushing the ball he'll find a way to keep him on the roster. The Mets would like to have him get regular at-bats rather than sit on the bench.
On Monday, a week before they begin the regular season, the Mets finally set their starting rotation for the 2009 season - or at least the start of it.
I posed the question here yesterday, just what was the biggest worry for Mets' fans heading into 2009 and it was nearly unanimous that the starting rotation is what keeps you up at night. Johan Santana is fine on the front of the rotation - and frankly, Livan Hernandez seems secure for readers at the No. 5 spot. But in between, there is headaches and upset stomaches for Mets fans.
As we detailed in today's Record, the good Ollie was back Monday, so the Mets feel secure with Oliver Perez as the No. 3 man in the rotation - although that $36 million deal might be thrown in their face a few times over the next three years.
Jerry Manuel also named his No. 5 starter, finally acknowledging that Livan Hernandez is the man. There is little surprise there since every one of his competitors has gone by the wayside and Pedro Martinez is not coming back. Will the Mets regret that? Maybe. But one interesting thing came of this decision-making process. I believed that Manuel was just being evasive and protecting the Mets against an injury or late move when he refused to give the nod to Hernandez before Monday. But one Mets official said that the manager really was infatuated with Dillon Gee and did consider him for the fifth spot.
After dancing around some of his decisions for the last few weeks, Jerry Manuel was in a declarative mood tonight.
First, he announced that Daniel Murphy is not only the every day leftfielder, but also that he will hit No. 2 in the lineup against both lefties and righties. That's not such a surprise, although it pushes Luis Castillo to the bottom of the lineup and the No. 8 spot in the order.
Then, Jerry finally acknowledged what we all knew - that Livan Hernandez is the No. 5 starter. He did it while joking with me that I finally had to give up the push for Pedro Martinez, but I quickly pointed out that there is always the chance of an injury and a late arrival.
Livan has been careful not to declare himself the winner either, even as every prospective competitor for the spot has been sent packing. But he said that after his bullpen session today he was finally told that the job was his.
The Mets host the Orioles here tonight and there are two interesting things to watch here. Okay, playing the Orioles makes it a bit of a force to say you have to watch, but bear with me here...
First, Oliver Perez is on the mound for the first time since the infamous out of shape appearance last week. Since then - I can't blame him for this - but he left down for a day and a half to attend his sister's wedding. Again, he's got to be there, but boy is that bad timing for him.
And the other interesting item is the sighting of the closest thing to a regular season lineup:
Jose Reyes SS Daniel Murphy LF David Wright 3B Carlos Delgado 1B Carlos Beltran CF Ryan Church RF Ramon Castro C Luis Castillo 2B Oliver Perez P
This is probably what the lineup will look like against a righthanded starter and Jerry Manuel may shift Castillo to the two-hole against lefties, dropping Murphy down to No. 7 and Brian Schneider at No. 8.
We are down to the final days of spring, the roster is just about complete and the drama all seems to have faded - at least whatever drama there was in this relatively sedate spring for the Mets.
So I've got a question now.
What is making you worry?
The bullpen has been restocked, Carlos Delgado still looks like he has the form of last year's second half run and even Luis Castillo has eased the need to boo.
So what is keeping you up at night? Not the economy please. But as long as you're up sweating the finances like everyone, what Mets thoughts are creeping into your head? What makes you wonder if the Mets can catch the Phillies?
With just 13 pitches on the day, Pelfrey's day is over. The rain will force him to alter his final preseason preparations. He was scheduled to pitch two innings Friday night in the first appearance by the Mets at Citi Field - an exhibition game against the Red Sox. But he said he will now likely throw a bullpen session Tuesday in Port St. Lucie and then pitch either in the Mets final game down here Thursday or a minor league game that day.
It's hailing here now - or snowing? - as the game has been halted.
First, Mike Pelfrey gave up two ground ball hits to start the game (the first should have been an error and he promptly picked Ryan Freel off first) and then Brian Schneider came to the mound to speak to him. Then Dan Warthen came out and brought Pelfrey to the dugout as the grounds crew came out to work on the mound.
Then Jerry Manuel came out and the entire team was taken off the field and we are in a delay now. The tarp is being raced in from the outfield - which will doubtlessly be a waste since rain usually lasts here about 10 minutes.
When it does restart, I wouldn't be surprised if Pelfrey is out of the game.
UPDATE (1:24 p.m.): Well, the rain is lightening up - and the tarp talk is a little overblown since the crew can't actually get it on the field. They were stuck before they ever got to even cover the mound. Now the crowd is chanting, "Pull, Pull, Pull and cheering as help has come - Sandy Alomar Jr. just popped out and gave some advice - which seems to have helped. They are peeling it back into the outfield.
UPDATE II (1:31 p.m): The rain is picking up again as they are trying to get the tarp folded up - so they just made another run and this time, to the applause of the crowd, managed to cover the field.