Is Tim Redding Gonna Have To Choke A Pitcher?

Despite the pain of back-to-back late-season collapses, the Mets have surprisingly little in-house competition in store this spring. The everyday lineup remains intact, exactly the same group that ended last season. Most of General Manager Omar Minaya's personnel changes were to the pitching staff, primarily via the overhauled bullpen. And even in that department there's little jousting for position; the names have changed, but the roles are pretty much locked in. 

Minaya did add some starting pitching depth, however, and it might be the one spot where spring training gets a little contentious. After the recent signing of Livan Hernandez, the Mets now have at least four guys competing for one remaining spot in the rotation (barring injury). One of them -- Tim Redding, who was the first starter signee -- is not really feeling the media being all up on him about this "competition" thing. Doesn't the media know he's Tim Redding? Well if they didn't, now they probably do because he's giving gangster quotes on the situation, "It's my assumption, and I've been told that I've been brought in here to be a starting pitcher - bottom line."

Uh-oh, we all know what happens when you assume. Especially when your name is Tim Redding and you've never won more than ten games in a season. Plus, Freddy Garcia is sort of assuming he's going to be in the rotation as well. In fact, he's "100%" certain, and has a resume with a lot more credits on it. But he's not issuing the gangster quotes like Redding, to wit:

"I went through this for four years in Houston, being told that I have to compete against a bunch of guys. You know, I got called by [the Mets], they brought me in here, and I've got a guaranteed contract. . . . I didn't have to beg them for a job, so it's got to make me feel like I have the upper hand."

That's right, fools! Tim Redding and his nine-year total of 34-wins with an ERA a shade under 5 doesn't beg for a job, he just comes in and gets it handed to him. Redding's misguided thinking is based on the $2.25 million Minaya handed him in the offseason, the only guaranteed contract in the bunch of guys competing for the spot. Problem is he was signed when Minaya was protecting himself from disaster; now as camp opens he has Garcia a veteran with a better resume, Jon Niese a rookie with more upside, and now Livan Hernandez a rubber-armed guy whose picture is in the dictionary next to "innings-eater."

MInaya is known to hand out a bad contract or two to balance out his more productive acquisitions (c.f. Luis Castillo), so the money won't guarantee much aside from Redding having surplus funds pay for some sort of reality check. As the one guy they know can also handle being a long reliever, it may be that Redding doesn't have to beg for a job, but to get the one he wants he may really have to choke someone.

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