By Ed Coleman
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Shaun Marcum knows one thing for sure: He’s not R.A. Dickey, and he doesn’t throw a knuckleball.

And he’s not going to try to be last year’s Cy Young Award winner, who won 20 games for the Mets before being traded to Toronto in December.  But Marcum does believe that, as a whole entity, the Mets’ rotation can fill the void created by Dickey’s absence.

Marcum officially signed with the Mets on Wednesday and is healthy and ready to go.  Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi drafted Marcum when he was Toronto’s GM back in 2003, and Marcum saw the Mets as a good fit for himself some 10 years later.

Marcum made 21 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, going 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA.  He was shut down for two months because of right elbow tightness, returning to the rotation in late August.  Marcum insisted that the problem was nothing major and that he’s good to go.

Marcum missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned to the Toronto rotation in 2010 and had arguably his finest year, going 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts while striking out a career-best 165 batters.  His batterymate that season?  Catcher John Buck, who was acquired by the Mets from the Blue Jays in the Dickey deal.

His offseason throwing program is a little different now, as he’s throwing more often in order to build up his arm strength. Marcum sounds like he’s a believer in Johan Santana’s frequent long-tossing ritual as well.

One interesting stat for Marcum is that he possesses the best road ERA (2.67) in the majors over the last two seasons.  But home or away, he’s confident that he can help the Mets this year.

There are a couple of bullpen notes, which is an area that needs a lot of shoring up.  The Mets signed 40-year-old veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a minor-league deal.  Hawkins pitched for the Angels last year, going 2-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 48 appearances.

And they also inked righty reliever Scott Atchison to a minor-league deal.  Atchison made 42 appearances last year for the Red Sox, with a 2-1 record and a 1.58 ERA.  So how does a reliever with a 1.58 ERA not get re-signed by his former team and get passed over by everybody else until now?  Well, Atchison missed two months with a torn elbow ligament, and took a pass on Tommy John surgery to rehab it on his own.  He did return for five appearances in September, and his velocity remained the same as it was pre-injury. But Boston chose to non-tender him in December, and the Mets scooped him up this week.

C U soon
Eddie C.

Where should Marcum slot in the Mets’ rotation? Is he the No. 1, No.2, No.3 or No. 4 starter? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…

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