Wednesday, October 26, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ State of METropolis Report; Part II

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

METropolis; YEAR 9 A.D. (After Doubleday)

NEW YORK METS:  At The Roosevelt Avenue Crossroads.


The future seems bright.  But forget the sunglasses.  Should we be looking through binoculars to see it?  The Mets now have three minor league pitching prospects that routinely get mentioned with positive reviews.  If you want to include Henrry Mejia while he rehabs from surgery, then make it four pitchers.   But Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeuyrs Famiglia are the three pitching prospects on the tips of Mets Fans' tongues these days.  And if you throw in Chris Schwinden along with some others, the Mets actually have a sudden quantity of quality hopefulls in hand which is a far cry over the previous decade-plus when crickets dominated board meetings whenever Met pitching prospects became topic one. 

But how far away are they?  Harvey, Famiglia and Wheeler all got a very limited taste of AA-Binghampton last season.  Chris Schwinden was promoted up to AAA-Buffalo mid-season.  And of course, Jenrry Mejia pitched for the Mets some in 2010 and was having a fine year in Buffalo before needing Tommy John surgery.  Former Brooklyn Cyclone, Dylan Owen, since promoted to Buffalo, is one more pitcher I'm still quite hopeful about but hasn't progressed as quickly as I thought.

Dillon Gee was asked to grow up a little early.  Needs of the big club necessitated his early call up from Buffalo.  He responded better than anyone could have expected; even anchoring the staff for a time and achieving double digit wins.  He has a variety of pitches that Dan Warthen is still teaching him how to trust.  That caused a late season communication breakdown between Gee and Warthen. And I sided with Warthen at the time as Gee needs to work on better game management.  He's young and still needs tutelage.  But he's a confidant, poised, and composed pitcher on the mound.  The former Brooklyn Cyclone is definitely a keeper.

Jonathan Niese also has a fan in me.  His problems are the big inning and endurance.  Both of which I think are correctable.  He's not over-powering, but his curveball is good enough to make his fastball very effective.  He and Dillon Gee are very fine and solid pieces to build a starting rotation with.  They are not aces, or number two pitchers yet.  But guys like these give a rotation (...potentially) amazing depth against all the other three, four, and five starters in the league.  As Jon Niese's frame fills out a little more and he gets a little more mass on his bones, he'll be that much better for it.  Like Gee, he's a definite keeper.  I'm just a sucker for a good curve ball.

Mike Pelfrey; Man-Child; Hand-Licker; Head Case; Enigma.  -  He has a sound arm.  There's no question about that.  He's proven healthy over the years and gobbles up innings.  It's all the anxiety that comes with those innings that concerns Met Fans.  With nothing apparently wrong with him, his once pounding sinker, rising fastball, change of pace curve ball, and change-up, all shared the same two characteristics last season.  Either they were out of the strike zone, or were getting smashed somewhere in fair territory.  His problem is he has no reliable out-pitch.  Batters routinely foul off pitches in bunches against Pelfrey, and he usually winds up paying a price for that.  He makes good pitches.  But batters seem to always get just enough of them to stay alive till something better comes their way or draw a walk.

The time is rapidly approaching when Mike Pelfrey and the Mets will have to talk money. - Or not.  Sandy Alderson just might very well deem him expendable.  Pelfrey did little to distinguish himself as a top rate pitcher this past season.  Speaking as a fan, I'm in for one more year where hopefully Mike Pelfrey can finally live up to some of his potential.  I do not believe having a 2011 "ace" tag branded on him played any part in his inconsistencies from 2010 to last season.  The truth is, so far in his career he has just simply under-achieved.  He's still a very likable Met however.  It's a strange dynamic because he's no doubt at the point of having to producing now or never - at least for the Mets.

Johan Santana remains the largest X-Factor this side of Simon Cowell's ego.  What pitcher will the Mets be getting if and when he returns to the mound next season?  Will he still flash an old familiar form?  Or will he need to reinvent himself in order to remain a successful pitcher?  What ever the difference is between his fastball and change-up will determine everything.  And his surgically repaired arm is at the heart of it all.  If we're not talking about a seven or eight mile-per-hour difference in those two pitches, a lot of Johan's offerings will become souvenirs.  The Mets have an awful lot of money invested in what is clearly their biggest question mark going into next season; even more troublesome than the Jose Reyes dilemma.

R.A. Dickey - the official 2011 Hard-Luck Pitcher of the Year.  Oh, what the back of his baseball card could have looked like with just a little support these last two seasons?  This past campaign, the line-up was particularly stingy with him.  What I like most about Dickey is his accountability and ability to convey his message clearly and effectively.  He demonstrates how much one can actually say if one exercises tact.  Dickey gets that.  He says quasi-controversial things but with tact.  And that makes all the difference.

As good and reliable a pitcher he turned out to be for the Mets, I'd trade him in a New York Minute for a nice respectable return.  Although the club won't say it, the Mets are rebuilding.  So if Dickey is attractive enough to a contending team which has another prospect to spare, I'd welcome that.  Of course it's nothing personal, but R.A. Dickey is not part of our future and I'd like to maximize any kind of return while he still clearly has reasonable value.

Chris Capuano was a nice come-back story for him personally I guess.  He bombed a few times, but pitched well to very well last season when healthy and finished strong.  Overall, he was consistent and stabilized the back end of the rotation.  At the right price, I wouldn't mind keeping him around.  But if some one calls inquiring about a trade involving Capuano..., hell yeah I'm listening.

Adding payroll to significantly bolster the pitching is highly unlikely.  And any talk about picking up recently released Roy Oswalt is not only futile, but unwise.  I think we all understand that by now.  So with no big free-agent import on the horizon, and a trade of any magnitude equally unlikely, it looks like the Mets will keep employing the old method of trying to strike lightning in a bottle as they did with Dickey; - and unlike they did with Kelvim Escobar.

Shortly after the World Series, the Hot Stove will get lit and the GM Meetings will take place.  It's hard to say if, how, or when, Sandy Alderson will be able to make improvements to the starting rotation for next season.  And while nothing can be said with any certainty until Johan Santana starts winning MLB games again, his is one of the contracts Sandy Alderson loathes, and if given an opportunity I'm sure he would love to rid the organization of such.


This is clearly the weakest link in the Mets' chain.  The necessary trading of Francisco Rodriguez left a void at Closer, which an open competition between Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato failed to settle before 2011 was through.

Pedro Beato has a live arm and is a keeper.  But I am still not convinced Bobby Parnell can not win the Closer's job.  There's been too many instances within this organization alone when being a little too impatient with high-powered arms haunted the organization.  The obvious name is Nolan Ryan.  But Jeff Reardon; Mike Scott; Randy Meyers; and Heath Bell also come to mind.  He, like Pelfrey, needs to perfect an out pitch.  And Parnell needs to learn his craft just a little better also.  He's still too much of a thrower and it shows up in his walks allowed.  Dan Warthen has been working with him for two seasons now.  He, like many players promoted recently, has been pressed into on-the-job-training.  So I still have a lot of hope for Parnell.  Perhaps the experience of last season provided lessons towards perfecting his craft.  He's been nagged by injuries but seemed to shake them off towards season's end.  I just beg patience from the organization with Bobby Parnell.

In the absence of a proven closer, those are the Mets two main options heading into the winter.  Whether we go into the Spring similarly remains to be seen.  The Mets' bullpen, like most bullpens around Baseball, is a yearly construction project.  Who's to say in October what the unit will look like next season?

Along with Parnell and Beato, - D.J. Carrasco; Manny Acosta; Tim Byrdak; Taylor Buchholz; and Izzy blew a lot of games together.  But I won't be hammering them about it.  The bullpen is obviously a department in need of a renovation.    Aside from Izzy who retired, some relievers may or may not be back.  Buchholz ended his season on the long-term DL.  Ryota Igarashi has already been let go.  But Josh Stinson should figure more into the mix next season.  And Chris Schwinden will most likely end up coming out of next year's pen as well.  Then?  Who knows.

NEXT - The Positional Players.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Say what you feel. The worse comment you can make is the one you do not make.