The New York Daily News’ Peter Botte on the unique methods used to gauge the progress of Mets prospect Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State).

Mike Pelfrey felt like he was in a futuristic world – or at least “inside a video game” – as researchers from the American Sports Medicine Institute strapped reflective sensors to various joints on his body yesterday so high-speed cameras could capture his pitching delivery via computer.

Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has been at the forefront of utilizing this modern technology for more than a decade.

But this was the first time representatives from the Birmingham, Ala., company have taken their computers and sensors to visit Mets camp to aid what Peterson calls “information-gathering at its finest.”

“I’ve been involved in this for a long time, since 1989, and since we’ve been involved in these studies, we believe we’ve gained a lot of knowledge that can benefit pitchers over the course of their careers,” Peterson said.

“You’re getting every measurement that a pitcher goes through. You’re getting stride length, knee and foot contact, ball release, hip rotation, velocity, upper torso rotation, arm angles, everything that constitutes good and bad mechanics.

“It’s like opening up the hood to take a look at the engine, but doing it at the highest level.”

Mets reliever Juan Padilla, facing Tommy John surgery, is expected to miss the entire 2006 season. For the umpteenth time, I really wish one of these pitchers would opt for Elton John surgery. Not only is the recovery time much faster, but the floral arrangements are spectacular.

The New York Post’s Mark Hale points out that for all of the offseason hoopla about the Mets’ supposed free spending ways, the club has plenty of room to manuever financially in 2007.

The players with 2007 guaranteed money are Carlos Beltran ($12 million), Carlos Delgado ($14.5M), Julio Franco ($1.15M), Paul Lo Duca ($6.25M), Pedro Martinez ($14M) and Billy Wagner ($10.5M). Technically, Pelfrey and Philip Humber are guaranteed money as well, albeit at less than $1M combined. The total is less than $60 million in salary – giving the Mets plenty of options for next year.

Not only are the Mets only financially committed to a few players, but assuming Beltran returns to his pre-Met form and nobody suffers a career-altering injury, all the contracts are seemingly for good players who you’d probably want to return. In other words, there is no bad money, like Kazuo Matsui this year ($8M) or Mike Piazza last year ($15M).

On the minus side, though, the Mets have Cliff Floyd, Steve Trachsel, Matsui and potentially Tom Glavine coming off the books after this year (the first three are free agents, while Glavine has an $11M club option for 2007), and with that financial freedom, the Mets must also replace those players. It’s why having inexpensive players in key roles – like Hernandez, Milledge, Pelfrey, Wright, etc. – can help the Mets so much.