The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman likes the Mets’ acquisition of Kaz Ishii, correctly stating that “(Jason) Phillips is a generic backup catcher; Ishii is a good no. 5 starter who can be relied upon to be somewhere between league-average and 10% below league-average. Generic backup catchers can be found in Triple-A or on the waiver wire; reliably semi-competent starting pitchers cannot.”
However, Marchman also cautions that a pitching rotation including Ishii and Victor Zambrano “could well lead to the establishment in Flushing of the least awesome pair of control pitchers in baseball history.”
This Mets team is uniquely ill-equipped to handle two pitchers who issue so many free passes. Two of the Mets’ major question marks going into this season are relief pitching and middle-infield defense. No one seems to be exactly sure who will be coming out of the bullpen, but it will almost certainly be some combination of washed-up veterans and unproven kids who will have heavy demands placed upon them due to the presence of starters Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine. The addition of Ishii, who like Zambrano will be running up huge pitch counts and leaving plenty of games in the fifth inning due to his propensity for the 3-2 count, will only add to that pressure.
Much the same goes for the infield defense. With Kaz Matsui playing second base for the first time in his career alongside Jose Reyes, who has far more talent than experience, you’d ideally like to see the Mets front office devise ways to minimize what could be a weakness. Instead, they’ve come up with a way to ensure there will be a tremendous amount of runners on first base, which will just put more pressure on a double-play combination that already has more than enough.
This spring has seen no signs that Zambrano and Ishii are going to turn things around anytime soon; the two have combined for 13 walks in 16 innings. Whether or not their addiction to the walk turns out to be of historic proportions, they’re almost certain to put Mets fans to sleep, burn holes in the lining of Willie Randolph’s stomach, and cost the team more than their ERAs would lead you to think.