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."