Mets rotation falling into place

Updated: March 5, 2011, 10:02 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins does not expect to officially trim the team's rotation competition until late next week, but Chris Young and Chris Capuano appear to only need to stay healthy to claim starting spots.

Young limited the Florida Marlins to one unearned run in three innings Friday. He and Capuano have combined to toss six Grapefruit League innings without allowing an earned run. Capuano also pitched against the University of Michigan.

At least through a pair of split-squad games next week, Oliver Perez, Dillon Gee, Pat Misch, D.J. Carrasco and Boof Bonser officially are receiving consideration.

But Perez is only listed in that rotation competition because he asked to be considered, and Collins has been treating veterans with respect, allowing them to audition for their preferred roles. Because Perez is sitting at only 83-84 mph with his fastball and has a propensity for walks, a team insider indicated it is highly likely Perez will be released, because it is doubtful the southpaw can even serve as a lefty-on-lefty relief specialist.

Similarly maligned second baseman Luis Castillo appears destined for the same fate, even though Perez and Castillo are owed a combined $18 million.

Collins acknowledged as much Thursday regarding Perez as a lefty specialist, saying: "Is it going to be hard for him? Probably."

Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Jonathon Niese are slated for the first three rotation spots, while Johan Santana is likely out until July.

Young's contract was specifically structured for him to be a starter. He receives a $1.1 million salary, and can max out at $4.5 million with 31 starts and 180 innings.

Similarly, Capuano's contract was structured to account for him being a starting pitcher. He has a base salary of $1.5 million and can max out at $4.5 million with 32 starts and 200 innings. Capuano's contract does provide for $500,000 in bonuses on top of the $1.5 million base salary if he makes 60 relief appearances. But the reason he signed with the Mets and broke off talks with the Milwaukee Brewers, his former team, is because his interest was in starting and not in working in relief and the Mets were interested in him for a rotation role.

Among the other official rotation contenders, Carrasco has a two-year, $2.4 million deal and is likely to handle the seventh inning as a reliever. Misch is the front-runner for a long-relief/spot-starter role. And Gee, who made five solid starts in September for the Mets, likely is ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo's rotation with fellow right-hander Jenrry Mejia to be available if an injury occurs to the major league staff.

Young suggested observers are underestimating the rotation.

"I think it's a talented group of guys that are one of high character, that are going to go out and give their best effort time in and time out and also kind of overachieve," he said after Friday's outing against the Marlins. "I think that's the makeup of the group, and I think that's something that really excites me -- to be part of a group that can go out there and surprise people. On paper it might not be the best-looking group of guys, but when you run us out there, we're all going to compete."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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