So a bunch of the boys are already in Port St. Lucie–including John Maine (who said he didn’t have anything better to do, like cross-dressing), Mike Pelfrey (who thinks it’s “his year”…you go show ’em, Pelf), and David Wright (Stan joked that he’s down there “making little nameplates for everyone,” and I hope it’s with macaroni and glitter). I really wish I was going down there to see a game or two; I am incredibly impatient for this season to start. I want the horrendous taste of last September to be washed away quickly. I want the boys to jump on everyone and pummel each and every team they face into submission. Judging from the interviews I’ve either read or heard by Wright and Maine, that seems like a primary goal. And why not? It must have been embarrassing and emasculating to have to experience. Hell, I merely watched that crap go on and felt like my dick lost two inches.
This team is going to score runs. That was never really the issue last year. And with the addition of Johan Santana, they’ve really shored up the rotation. I envision a solid season from Pedro Martinez so long as no chickens get in the way, and I think Maine and Oliver Perez (who, btw, is the subject of an interesting piece by Coop) will at least match their production last year, if not top it. I think we can all guess what’ll happen to El Duque, and when he gets hurt, Pelfrey will be there to prove something to himself, the organization, and the fans (including me, who perhaps was overheard referring to him as a “piece of shit” during that stretch where he went 0-7. Yes. Maybe).
Pretty much the big issue of last season was the downward slide of the bullpen. It was unbelievable how everyone–Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Smith–started out like gangbusters and then crapped out. The gaudier moves by Omar this offseason (acquiring Santana, jettisoning Milledge) have overshadowed his shoring up of the bullpen, perhaps learning from last season’s horrible lessons (blowing 5-run leads like THREE TIMES IN A WEEK will probably do that to you; also the collapse. Did you hear about that? THERE WAS A COLLAPSE OF SOME SORT).
You have to figure that Wagner, Heilman, Feliciano, Jorge Sosa, Duaner Sanchez (finally recovered from that cab crash), and Scott Schoeneweis (under contract, though to be fair he was one of the solider arms going down the stretch…which you can’t really say about anyone else) have spots sewn up, failing a drastic underperformance. One would think that new acquistions like Matt Wise and Tony Armas, Jr. will be battling out a roster spot with Juan Padilla and Smith.
I have really high hopes for Smith, even if it turns out that he goes to AAA after Spring Training. Last year was a rollercoaster to be sure, starting out invincibly, hitting the wall, getting a demotion, and coming back while still struggling. Part of this is attributable to drastic overuse in the first two months of the season; part of it could be the sidewinding novelty wearing off; but more than either of those things I think is the overwhelming situation he was put in–straight out of college he makes the majors and has to adjust to not only this new pressure, but to the sheer amount of work he’s had to do. Remember too that he’s only 23. Jesus, when I was 23 I could barely make rent half the time. I still stand by his stuff, and you have to think the organization does too.
Even if he doesn’t make the roster out of Spring Training, I suspect that some time in the minors would do him well, and that we’d see him brought up during the season. I have to say, it’s nice to have a few options.
Oh also: nice to not have Guillermo Mota too, that dick.