Bobby Parnell Was Almost There

Almost. That’s the one word I think of when I think of Bobby Parnell‘s Mets career. He almost figured it out. 

The Mets organization always thought of him as a reliever, but in 2009, when the team no longer had nothing to play for other than finding out who will be a part of the future, they let Parnell start some games. In his first home start, he pitched six shutout innings against the Giants. It was downhill from there. It didn’t mean Parnell was a bad pitcher, it just meant he was reliever. 

It didn’t change the fact that the Mets had high hopes for him. They saw him as a future closer. He had the stuff for it. He put together some good seasons. Then he had the break he needed in his career.  In 2011, he was mentored by Jason Isringhausen. The next two years would be the best years of his career. In 2013, he would fulfill what the Mets saw as his destiny. He became their closer. 

It would be the best year of his career. He recorded 22 saves. He had a 2.16 ERA with a 2.33 FIP, a 166 ERA+, and a 1.000 WHIP. He was a reason for hope for 2014 and beyond. Well, almost. He had elbow problems going into the 2014 season. After one poor appearance, he had to be shut down and have Tommy John surgery. 

He tried to come back in 2015, but he was ineffective. Up until his surgery, Parnell had a 96 MPH fastball with an 87 MPH slider, 84 MPH curve, and a 89 MPH split. Upon his return, his repertoire was a tick slower with a 94 MPH fastball, 82 MPH curve, and a 89 MPH split. His WHIP jumped to 1.958. His ERA+ was 59. Whereas Matt Harvey was given a year and a half to rehab, Parnell rehabbed for barely over a year. 

He apparently needed more time. Once again, he was almost ready. 

He’s a former Met now having signed with the Detriot Tigers on a minor league deal. He’s on a team that seemingly needs bullpen help each and every year. Hopefully for him, he’s ready. I hope he’s past being almost there. 

He was a good Met. He had periods of effectiveness. It almost worked out well in New York. 

Parnell Shouldn’t Be Booed. 

Personally, I don’t like it when people tell me not to boo someone. I’m not specifically telling you not to boo Bobby Parnell. It’s your right, and he’s been bad. He’s 1-3 with a 6.52 ERA. There’s a lot of things you want to say to that, but this is a family friendly blog. 

Before I continue, it should be noted I was never a fan of Parnell. His fastball is straight, and he was in love with it. He had the attitude that he blew it past hitters in the minors, so it should work in the majors. As you can see, my defense of him has nothing to do with performance. 

I defend him because Parnell has been set up to fail this year. He went down last April and needed Tommy John surgery. Matt Harvey was not allowed on a mound until 10 months after the surgery. He didn’t come back until 20 months after the surgery. The normal timetable is around 12-18 months.  However, most people agree a pitcher needs 18 months. Parnell was given much less time. In fact, he was pitching at 11 months and called-up after 14 months

At first, the narrative was he had diminished velocity, but he was learning how to pitch more effectively. Then it was that Parnell was gaining some velocity, but the results weren’t quite there. Finally, it was he was terrible. Begrudgingly, he agreed to be put on the DL. We all suspected it was to get his head and mechanics right. 

When September 1st passed, Parnell was activated. He spent his time on the DL working on his mechanics with Dan Warthen, who presumably said Parnell was ready to go last night. He wasn’t. When are the Mets going to seriously look at what’s going on with Warthen and the pitching staff?  If you watched last night, you knew Parnell wasn’t ready to return. 

I know the Mets were cautious with Harvey, and they should’ve.  He’s a tremendous asset. However, just because Parnell’s a free agent at the end of the year doesn’t mean you get to rush his rehab, and yes, it was rushed. He didn’t get his full velocity back, and he was still having trouble finding the strikezone. 

Despite all of this, Parnell still works hard. He’s at his locker fielding questions after another rough outing. His only transgression was making dumb statements about the fans. If you want to boo him for that, I understand. If you’re booing the results, boo Terry Collins. Boo Warthen. Boo Sandy Alderson. They’re the ones that created the situation. 

I just can’t bring myself to boo someone who is set up to fail. I may feel differently when he goes all Heath Bell and figures it out somewhere else. If he does, we’ll really know the issue is with Dan Warthen. 

This may be it for Parnell. It’s a shame because I’m really curious to see what might’ve been had he had a real rehab. 

Parnell Finds Out His Arm Hurts

After a number of bad outings, the Mets decided it was time to make a changeLogan Verrett is going to take Bobby Parnell‘s place in the bullpen. 

It was decided that Parnell would go on the DL with arm fatigue. This is a good move because Parnell had been effective earlier in the year, and he probably just needed some time off. It’s good the Mets didn’t DFA him because you don’t throw away a potential asset.

What this also signals to me is how the Mets have mismanaged the innings limits of their young pitchers. Look at how easy that was. Just throw a guy on the DL. No real excuse needed. If they did this at some other time, like when Matt Harvey had some rough outings, we wouldn’t be talking about reintroducing the six man rotation in September. 

Instead, we would be talking about what to do with Bartolo Colon. We would be talking about whether Steven Matz should go to the bullpen. No, we are instead talking about who’s going to be the seventh inning reliever. It’s too late in the season to leave this unanswered. 

It’s also the result of uninspired thinking. The Mets never truly pivoted from the failures of Vic Black and the suspensions of Jenrry Mejia

Hopefully, Verrett, a player the Mets were alright subjecting to the Rule 5 draft, will be the seventh inning answer. I would like the Mets to consider Matz. I wouldn’t rule out Parnell once he decides his arm no longer hurts. 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Bullpen Saved Someone’s Season

The Mets went to Philadelphia to take on a wounded Phillies team who was aboslutely reeling. You knew after this series one of these two teams would still be standing, and the other will look like their past offseason was all for naught. Well, the Mets bullpen would make sure that would happen:

1. As noted by Michael Mayer, the last time a team blew five games where they led by at least two runs was the 2011 Mets. No, not the last time the Mets did it – the last time anyone did it. The closer that year was Francisco Rodriguez with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell, and Jason Isringhausen serving as setup men. Prior to this season, no one was saying “Come get us!”

2. We can talk about different parts of this Mets team getting exposed, but no one was more exposed than Brodie Van Wagenen. He mismanaged the “crisis” with Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas. The media reported his involvement in game decisions like removing Jacob deGrom from a game. There were reports it was more than that as well.

4. This debacle is reminiscent of the 1993 Mets with Vince Coleman throwing fireworks at fans and Bret Saberhagen dousing reporters in bleach. What’s the common denominator between those two Mets teams? The Wilpons.

5. It was good for the Wilpons to take nine years to finally do the right thing by honoring Tom Seaver. Of course, they waited so long Seaver is now suffering from dementia so he cannot travel for these honors, and he may also not have the mental faculties to enjoy the honors being bestowed upon him.

6. The article by Wallace Matthews of Yahoo is completely ridiculous. Not only does he call Vargas the team’s most reliable starter, but he gets a chance to speak with Jeff Wilpon. With that access, he talks about the incident with Tim Healey instead of literally anything else. Honestly, if Jeff wants to talk about that, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time.

7. Jeff Wilpon’s silence on the state of this team and the continual inept way it is run from a number of facets should be met by fans with silence. We could call to organize a boycott or something, but in reality, the team being this soul crushingly bad is going to keep the fans away anyway. When that happens, Jeff’s silence will be met with silence.

8. Worse than that, Jay Bruce gets a key pinch hit home run and a walk off double, Robinson Cano has multiple 0-for-5’s, and Edwin Diaz blows a save. Right there, his biggest move completely busted. Actually, that’s not fair, it was a bust long before that.

9. So much for scapegoating Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez because the Mets bullpen imploded in the four game set. Worse yet, these were games the Mets absolutely should have won:

10. What Dominic Smith has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. This team needs to be smart and really look at him in left field for the rest of the year to determine if he can be a long term solution there. If nothing else, the Mets need as many cheap bats as they can get.

11. Amed Rosario has had a number of peaks and valleys, and recently, this has been a bit of a peak. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .342/.366/.500 with four stolen bases in as many attempts. Ultimately, there still remains hope for him.

12. The Mets need to figure out what to do with Cano, and they need to figure it out sooner rather than later. Realistically speaking, he needs to be moved to a less demanding position like third base and get some days off. As each day passes, it’s clear he can’t play second everyday.

13. Moving Cano to third solves the problem there, and it allows the team to move Jeff McNeil back to second base. This should clear that spot for Smith and hopefully Brandon Nimmo if his injury proves to not be career altering.

14. Speaking of Nimmo, only the Mets could take a talented fan favorite player like him, have him get to an All Star level, and then do all they can to completely ruin him. It’s a not so fun pattern with this team.

15. Todd Frazier has done a lot to help this team and build his trade value. The problem is he’s still a rental who is not really getting you something in return. Really, if you want to make a difference at the deadline, you need to trade major pieces, but with the young talent so close, you can’t do that either.

16. Michael Conforto continues to show himself to be both a great and underappreciated player. He should be an All Star this season. If he isn’t, it’s because this team stinks, and the organization can’t be bothered to promote it’s most talented and perhaps best position player.

17. Chris Mazza getting called up at 29 years old is a feel good story. It’s a feel good story just like Tyler Pill and Drew Gagnon was before him. He should enjoy the moment, but we shouldn’t be expecting anything from him.

18. Chris Flexen looks like a real weapon in the bullpen. Brooks Pounders may become that as well. The optimistic Mets fans could look at them joining Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in front of Diaz, who really cannot be this bad next year, to become a formidable bullpen. As Mets fans, we should know better than to hope.

19. Callaway does sound ridiculous when he says the Mets are so close, but he’s not wrong. This team continues to fight and play hard. If they had even a capable bullpen, they’d be in a much better position. If fact, this is the only team in baseball with more blown saves (20) than saves (18). If you just take back half of those blown saves, the Mets are 47-35, which puts them a game out of first place.

20. Short of honoring the 1969 Mets this weekend, and maybe sometime late in the season to see if Pete Alonso breaks some home run records, there is zero reason to go see the Mets at Citi Field other than your love of the Mets and baseball. The latter is why the Wilpons have us and will never sell the team.

Trivia Friday: Mets Seasons With Multiple Closers

Early on, Mickey Callaway announced his intentions to use his best relievers in the highest leverage spots and not just in the ninth inning.  As a result, in addition to Jeurys Familia, we may very well see AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak, Jerry Blevins, or even Hansel Robles out there looking to close out a game.  This creates the possibility of the Mets having multiple relievers with over 10 saves.

This is something that has happened 12 times in Mets history.  Sometimes, it was due to injury.  Others, it was the intended plan.  Whatever the case, can you name the closers who have at least 10 saves in the same season another Mets reliever had at least 10 saves?  Good luck!


Ron Taylor Cal Koonce Tug McGraw Doug Sisk Jesse Orosco Roger McDowell Randy Myers John Franco Anthony Young Armando Benitez Bobby Parnell Latroy Hawkins

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

Mets Only Hurt Themselves By Not Trading Duda Or Bruce To The Yankees

Heading into the trade deadline, there were rumors the Mets were willing to eat salary in order to maximize the return for a player. There were also the rumors the Mets would be willing to trade with the Yankees.

Ultimately, both rumors proved to be false.

When it came to Lucas Duda, the return from the Tampa Bay Rays was arguably weak.  In exchange for a top 10 first baseman, the Mets got a relief prospect.  Sure, Drew Smith could ultimately be a good reliever, but he’s still a reliever in the Vic Black/Bobby Parnell mold – big arm, hard time putting batters away.

The argument in response will be there was a weak market for 1B/DH players, and Duda had an e luring deal. Lost in the argument was the Mets failed to create a real bidding war.

As Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported, the Mets didn’t make Duda available to the Yankees. As an unnamed Yankees official stated, “he Mets just wouldn’t trade him to us.”

To those who were skeptical of the report, please turn your attention to the Jay Bruce trade.

In exchange for a player on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season, the Mets received Ryder Ryan from the Cleveland Indians. Ryan is a former 30th round pick who is a converted reliever. In the deal, the Indians took on all of Bruce’s salary.

For those Mets fans thinking Bruce should’ve netted more, you might be right.

According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Yankees were interested in Bruce, and according to his sources, the Yankees were offering two prospects many teams inquired about at the trade deadline. According to Carig, “Yankees would have covered only a portion of salary, but Yankees offered better players it seems.”

If true, this is complete and utter nonsense. The Yankees possess a deep farm system with players who could have helped the Mets in the long run.

Who cares if Duda or Bruce helped the Yankees win a World Series?  They weren’t helping the Mets win one this year. In fact, the only way these players would’ve helped the Mets win a World Series was to get an important piece in return who could have been a significant part of a winner. At the moment, it’s hard to make that argument for Smith or Ryan.

In reality, a Mets team who has been unwilling to spend commensurate with their market size and window of contention, once again took the cheap route. They dumped two players on smaller market teams and got underwhelming returns.

Their actions proved they were unwilling to ear salary for a better return, and they were unwilling to help the Yankees win. It was petty, small-minded, and it was bad business.

It doesn’t matter if this came from Sandy Alderson or Jeff Wilpon. What matters is it happened, and the Mets are arguably worse off for it. In the end, I really hope Smith and Ryan was worth it. Chances are they won’t be.

UPDATE: It gets better.  Not only did the Mets care more about money than the prospect return, but they also cared about those four meaningless games against the Yankees

Assessing The Lucas Duda Trade

Now, one thing I have been upfront about is that I am partial to Lucas Duda.  For me, seeing Duda go from the Mets organization was more than just seeing a good player leave, it does close a small chapter of my life.  Unlike most writers, I want to be upfront about my biases because everyone writes with some bias.  If you understand that, you’re better able to assess the evaluation.

Now before addressing this specific trade, Duda was arguably worth a second round pick or the equivalent due to the changes in the qualifying offer system.  Ultimately, when assessing the Mets trade of Duda for Drew Smith, the question is whether the Mets accomplished that in this deal.

The answer?  Maybe.

On the one hand, only earlier this year his trade value was just a fourth outfielder in Mikie Mahtook.  However, judging his value on that alone is silly.  It’s very possible the Tigers made a bad trade.  It’s also possible Smith got better as the year progressed.  With Smith, it seems both might be true.

Based on various scouting reports, Smith is a reliever who throws it in the high 90s and he can reach 99 MPH.  He combines that with a good but inconsistent curveball. Both pitches have been dominant for him this year with him going 1-2 with a 1.60 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, and an 8.0 K/9 across three levels of the minors and in two different organizations.  Smith certainly gets the most out of these pitches because he locates both of these pitches well.

Looking at the stats and his stuff, there is a lot to like.  He has been getting good results.  One thing that stands out with him is he has allowed just five extra base hits in 45.0 innings pitched.  Four of those extra base hits were doubles, and the lone home run he has allowed was to now fellow Mets prospect Peter Alonso.  Remarkably, that homer is the only one he has allowed in his career.

On the downside is there’s not a lot of strikeouts.  For someone with his stuff, you’d expect a lot more.  More troubling is the fact he has yet to strike anyone above Single-A.  It should be noted he’s pitched 4.2 innings above Single-A.  One of the reasons why his strikeouts are low could be his fastball is a straight fastball.

Given his repertoire and the low amount of strikeouts, as Mets fans we may be looking at another Bobby Parnell or Vic Black.  Depending on your point of view, that’s a good or bad thing.

Ultimately, Smith is an interesting relief prospect, but in some ways, he’s also a project.  Given Duda’s production, the Mets probably should have done better than this.  Arguably, they should have also received another lower level prospect in return to mitigate some of the boom/bust potential in Smith.

However, this analysis does ignore the down market for sluggers like Duda, and the fact Sandy Alderson probably waited too long to trade him.  It also ignores this is a pitcher with high upside.  If he hits his ceiling, and he’s in an organization where he very well could, you’re probably calling this trade a win for the Mets.

Another factor is this trade does make room for Dominic Smith to play sooner rather than later.  This will allow Smith to get his feet wet this year and make the necessary adjustments heading into the 2018 season to help him be a much better player.

Overall, the Mets likely sold low on Duda.  In the end, we’re probably not going to care much if Smith becomes the 10 time All Star Duda said he wants him to become.  We’ll care even less if Smith becomes a dominant late inning reliever.  As of today, anything is possible

Trivia Friday – Terry Collins’ Heavily Used Relievers

So far this season, Terry Collins is using his bullpen heavily.  Part of this is his starters do not go as deep into games as they once did.  Another factor is Collins is over-managing at times to the point where he is doing matchups when the Mets have large leads late in games.  As a result, four of the bullpen arms are on pace for more than 70 appearances in a season with two others not being far behind.

This would not be the first time Collins had a reliever make 70 appearances in a season.  In fact, it won’t be the first time he has had multiple relievers make 70 appearances in the season.  Can you name all the relievers who have made over 70 appearances in a season?  Good luck!


Addison Reed Jeurys Familia Jerry Blevins Carlos Torres Scott Rice LaTroy Hawkins Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch Tim Byrdak

Trivia Friday – Pitchers Gone While Montero Stayed

Overall, the tale of Rafael Montero is one of unfulfilled potential.  Since at least 2014, the Mets have been tantalized by that potential, and they have given him chance after chance to succeed in the majors.  Their reward this year is Montero struggling yet again going 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA, 3.600 WHIP, and a 10.8 BB/9.

In his wake, Montero has left behind a number of Mets pitchers.  Some are gone because they were needed to be traded to bulk up the 2015 team to make a postseason run.  Others are simply gone because the Mets valued Montero higher than them.  The Mets were right in some instances, and wrong in others.  Can you name the 32 pitchers who have pitched in the majors since Montero’s call-up in 2014 that are no longer a part of the Mets organization?  Good luck!


Gabriel Ynoa Logan Verrett Bartolo Colon Jon Niese Jim Henderson Dario Alvarez Antonio Bastardo Akeel Morris Carlos Torres Buddy Carlyle Eric O’Flaherty Bobby Parnell Tyler Clippard Alex Torres Tim Stauffer Matthew Bowman Jack Leathersich Dillon Gee Michael Fulmer Luis Cessa John Gant Robert Whalen Vic Black Cory Mazzoni Daisuke Matsuzaka Gonzalez German Dana Eveland Jose Valverde Kyle Farnsworth John Lannan