But at the risk of disagreeing with Ted Berg, something I try never to do, I believe the 5-6 starts Mejia makes between now and October should be at least somewhat determinative as to whether the Mets go after a starter this offseason.
Consider that all reports have the Mets with very little money to spend this offseason. So should Mejia, say, dominate in a similar way to his Monday start in Buffalo, or even approach that from a peripheral standpoint, the Mets should really spend the money it would take to bring in a starting pitcher when they have a returning five of a (hypothetically) dominant Mejia, Dickey, Niese, Santana and Pelfrey? When the team has no second baseman, one outfielder whose production can be counted on, no backup plans at catcher or first base, and no bullpen?
Well dammit, Howard, try harder.
Seriously, though, this is an easier point to contend with now that Mejia looked unspectacular in his first start on Saturday, but even if he goes out and dominates his next four outings I’ll still likely argue that he should start next season in Triple-A.
If Mejia pitches every fifth game for the rest of the season and throws a complete game in each outing (which probably won’t happen), he’ll barely have thrown 100 innings this season. The Mets will be wise to limit him in 2011, and bringing him along slowly in the Minor Leagues — allowing him to better his control and secondary arsenal — seems like as good a way as any to do that. Then, if he succeeds in Triple-A, unleash him on the National League. Let him force his way into the Majors, rather than the other way around.
Dillon Gee’s nice start provides some optimism that the Mets can fill out their pitching staff from within regardless of whether Mejia is ready, but I’d still argue that the team should pursue rotation depth this offseason. Assuming Dickey, Santana, Pelfrey and Niese all stay healthy and pitch this well again in 2011, with no contingency plan, could burn the team.
Of course, as Howard points out, pitching is hardly the team’s only need and the wisdom of all offseason moves is dictated by the cost.
Yes, the Mets will need to find some way to better their offense, though I think they can actually safely assume something of a return to form from Jason Bay and some improvement from Ike Davis, and that simply not having Jeff Francoeur suck up 400 at-bats in a corner outfield spot will benefit the team immensely.
These are concerns for the offseason, of course.
The important thing is that the Mets are still playing baseball, and that with Mejia taking the mound tonight against the full-strength Phillies, there’s actually something interesting to watch.