Last Looks: 2005 Report Cards - Pitchers

With the end of the season – or is it the semester? – come the annual report cards, marking each Mets player on their performances this season under manager Willie Randolph. Some were surprisingly good, others, decidedly poor.

Through consultation with several writers and other experts, we've determined the final grades Mets players can take home from the winter. We've adhered to that old scholastic grading scale: A - exceptional; B – above average; C – average; D – passing/below average; F – failing.

You can find our full grading charts in the November issue of Inside Pitch, on newsstands the week of Nov. 1.

PITCHERS

Heath Bell, RHP

At one point appeared as though he might be working his way into the club's bullpen plans, but mysteriously disappeared from use during the last six weeks of the year. Randolph says he's seen enough to consider Bell (1-3, 4.93 ERA in 45.2 IP) for a bullpen spot in 2006; some wonder if Randolph had simply seen enough of Bell, period. He deserved better. FINAL GRADE: C-.

Kris Benson, RHP

Stepped up and gave the Mets the type of solid year Pittsburgh had been asking of him (10-8, 4.13 ERA in 28 starts). One difference – with Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine around, Benson wasn't expected to be an ace, and soaked up information from the two veterans, improving his mound poise and attitude. His success has made last July's trade start to be palatable for fans, though he went winless in seven starts before taking his final decision of the year. FINAL GRADE: B-.

Tom Glavine, LHP

Earned bonus credits for overhauling himself as a pitcher, recognizing that hitters had finally grown accustomed to his pitching style. He didn't shy away, changing himself into a more aggressive attacker on the hill and surprising NL hitters. Glavine (13-13, 3.53 ERA) could have had a few more wins with better run support, but that's been the story of his Mets career. He gave the Mets a fighting chance to win nearly every game, and that's all you can ask. FINAL GRADE: B+.

Danny Graves, RHP

Midseason pickup held Randolph's fascination for a time as a possible reclamation project, but with Graves significantly lacking velocity – he suspects it was the '03 year as a Cincinnati starter that did him in – his contributions were limited to the clubhouse ambiance. Graves (0-0, 5.75 ERA with Mets) was shipped to Triple-A for a time and barely pitched in September; he is not expected to return for 2006. FINAL GRADE: F.

Aaron Heilman, RHP

Could have easily pouted and given a half-hearted effort when reassigned to the bullpen; instead, Heilman (5-3, 3.17 ERA) used the situation to finally crack through against NL hitters and erase his 'bust' label. Excelled in the bullpen (3-0, 2.18 ERA, .207 opponent BA, 5 saves) and in a brief dalliance as a starter (including a one-hitter vs. Florida on Apr. 15), and appears to have a bright future no matter how he's used. FINAL GRADE: A-.

Roberto Hernandez, RHP

Gave the Mets far more than they could have expected from a 41-year-old veteran reliever; in fact, for a time, Hernandez (8-6, 2.58 ERA, 4 saves) was downright unhittable until August and kept an otherwise lackluster bullpen churning. Pitching for a New York team, where he grew up, Hernandez was a hometown success. FINAL GRADE: B+.

Kaz Ishii, LHP

Spring training pickup seemed like a sound move at the time, but was simply too ineffective for the Mets to continue wasting starts on. Ishii (3-9, 5.14 ERA) always erratic and walked hitters, but after 13 wins for L.A. last year, Ishii's luck ran out in New York. He was shipped to Triple-A late in the year and probably won't be back for 2006. FINAL GRADE: D+.

Braden Looper, RHP

Just had too many high-profile blown saves, too many failures, that it almost became comical – until we found out he'd been pitching hurt all year. Looper (4-7, 3.94 ERA, 28 saves) could probably excel as a premier setup man if he comes back from the repaired AC joint and can keep his sinker down in the zone; it doesn't appear he'll get that chance in New York. The Mets can't afford to have another Armando Benitez around, and aren't expected to pick up Looper's 2006 option. FINAL GRADE: D-.

Pedro Martinez, RHP

Made everyone who questioned his signing look absolutely silly. Everything Pedro brought to the Mets was a positive – his clubhouse attitude, his on-field determination, his influence both on the public and on potential future Mets. With a little better luck, we might have even been considering Martinez (15-8, 2.82 ERA) for a NL Cy Young award; shut down early to save bullets for 2006, Pedro should be back at full strength to handle the role of Mets ace in the spring. FINAL GRADE: A.

Juan Padilla, RHP

Was a Triple-A All-Star and filled a relief role for the Mets, mostly in middle-inning situations. Padilla (3-1, 1.49 ERA, 1 save) showed good stuff and a solid attitude, which are plusses in his favor; he's a decent bet to get three outs at any time, but it's unclear how (or if) he fits in the club's plans. FINAL GRADE: C.

Jae Seo, RHP

Was the toast of the team for a brief time as his record went as high as 7-1, but hit the skids with a loss and four no-decisions as season ended. Still, Seo (8-2, 2.59 ERA) resurrected himself from Mets purgatory by pitching exceptionally both at Triple-A and on the major league level, and has to fit into the club's plans somehow. It could be as a starter or a long reliever, but Seo has shown there's too much talent to ignore. FINAL GRADE: B-.

Victor Zambrano, RHP

Pitched well to begin the year, but the Mets probably stuck with Zambrano (7-11, 3.98 ERA) longer than they should have, piling up no-decisions and inconsistent efforts. There's a talented right arm there, but the results just haven't matched up. He's at best a No. 3 pitcher and is unfairly judged against the shadow of the Scott Kazmir trade – we aren't even factoring that into his final grade for 2005, as it's out of his control. FINAL GRADE: C-

Incomplete Grades: Felix Heredia, Tim Hamulack, Shingo Takatsu, Steve Trachsel.


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