Plan A: World Series hero Jeff Weaver (5.76 ERA with Los Angeles Angels and Cardinals in 2006) as starting pitcher.
What went wrong: See Plan A. It's true that Weaver pitched effectively in five postseason games for champion St. Louis last season, and it's true that his 14.32 ERA with Seattle is so far beyond awful that even naysayers wouldn't have bet on it, but that doesn't mean that Weaver was a safe bet for the Seattle rotation. In any case, Weaver is now on the disabled list with what Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus called "tendinitis in his pitching shoulder and sucksitis everywhere else."
Plan B: South Korean native Cha Seung Baek, 27, has a 5.40 ERA in four starts this season. He has been in the rotation while 21-year-old ace Felix Hernandez (1.56 ERA) spent time on the disabled list, and with Hernandez returning on Tuesday, will remain a starter in place of Weaver. Baek had a 3.67 ERA in six starts last season, leading some to wonder why the Mariners spent $8.325 million on Weaver to begin with.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Plan A: Free-agent signee Jason Schmidt (3.56 ERA with San Francisco Giants in 2006) as starting pitcher and Wilson Betemit (.795 OPS with Atlanta Braves and Dodgers in 2006) at third base.
What went wrong: Schmidt posted a 7.36 ERA in four starts before going on the DL with shoulder issues -- no return date was set -- and Betemit couldn't get his batting average above .200.
Plan B: The one thing the Dodgers prepared themselves to do this season was replace an injured starting pitcher. Brett Tomko, banished to the bullpen last summer, moved back into the rotation in place of Schmidt and has had some decent starts, even tossing 5 1/3 no-hit innings against Florida last week. But his ERA Violet-Blueberried to 5.97 after he allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings Monday. So 22-year-old Chad Billingsley (31 baserunners allowed and 26 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings this season) or Hong-Chih Kuo might soon step in. As for Betemit, he has a single, two doubles and three homers in his past 14 at-bats, but it may be too late to keep recent callup Andy LaRoche (6 for 18 with eight walks, four intentional) out of the starting lineup.
The Tigers have replaced flamethrowing setup man Joel Zumaya, above, with the capable Fernando Rodney.
Plan A: Joel Zumaya (1.94 ERA in 2006) as big-time setup man.
What went wrong: After lowering his 2007 ERA to 0.90 on April 18, Zumaya allowed six runs in his next 7 1/3 innings and landed on the DL until August or later with a ruptured tendon in his middle finger.
Plan B: Fernando Rodney has pitched in the eighth inning in his past five appearances, doing so effectively in three of them. The 30-year-old has 167 strikeouts in 181 career innings but has allowed 262 baserunners in the process. Before Zumaya's injury, Rodney took four losses in April while battling neck and pack pain, but as much as anyone, it's now up to him to get the Tigers to 39-year-old closer Todd Jones.
New York Mets
Plan A: Young right-hander Mike Pelfrey, drafted two years ago and signed for $5.25 million, as starting pitcher.
What went wrong: Five losses and a 6.53 ERA in six starts sent the 23-year-old Pelfrey to Triple-A New Orleans.
Plan B: As the Mets continue their long wait for the return of Pedro Martinez, they aren't overflowing with options. Chan Ho Park has already been tried and discarded. Jason Vargas has a 5.35 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in Triple-A. Jorge Sosa, with a 2.77 ERA in two starts while Orlando Hernandez takes some DL time, could stay in the rotation after Hernandez returns. But Mets manager Willie Randolph is sending Pelfrey a round of "Get Well Soon" cards, because they want [need] him to make it.
Boston Red Sox/Houston Astros
Plan A: Get Roger Clemens (2.30 ERA in 2006) at midseason.
What went wrong: They weren't desperate enough to keep him from the Yankees.
Plan B: Boston had only one problem in its starting rotation -- Julian Tavarez (6.60 ERA) -- until Josh Beckett (2.66 ERA) tore the skin on his finger. Now, it may be counting even more on a strong return from 23-year-old cancer survivor Jon Lester (4.76 ERA in 2006). For the Astros, it's wait for Jason Jennings to return from the tendinitis that has kept him sidelined since mid-April. Matt Albers has had three nice starts and two hammerings in Jennings' stead.