BALTIMORE -- Earlier this season, when his starting pitchers were dropping like flies, Mets manager Jerry Manuel wondered out loud whether general manager Omar Minaya needed to go out and acquire an experienced arm for the rotation.
Now, Manuel isn't so sure.
"One of the key things would be health. You can always kind of insulate yourself, taking a hit like we have in starting pitching [and] not know how that's going to resurface or rebound," Manuel said. "Then you still need some more depth behind that, unless you're going to go really, really young -- and that can sometimes be beneficial and can sometimes be really, really dangerous."
The windfall from a pair of unheralded 35-year-olds -- right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who has gone 4-0, and lefty Hisanori Takahashi, who improved to 5-2 with a win over the Orioles on Saturday night -- makes Manuel more comfortable with the status quo.
"You can't get better than that," Manuel said. "Jonathan Niese is back, looks healthy and sharp. You've got Johan [Santana] and [Mike] Pelfrey. You're actually in pretty good shape. It's difficult, regardless of who it is, to replace 5-2 and 4-0 -- 9-2, I don't care who you go out and get, that's difficult to replace."