Commentary: Give the kids a chance.

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

I remember the conversation with Jerry Manuel as if it were yesterday. We were in Washington and I asked him about Eddie Kunz. (For the sake of the argument, I know he got roughed up).

How much worse could Kunz be than the older arms blowing saves for the Mets? Manuel agreed, and said maybe it was time for Kunz to pitch in a pressure situation. He didn’t get a save opportunity for several days, until Manuel had no choice but to go to him.

The amateur psychologist in me said Kunz’s confidence took a hit when opportunity after opportunity passed without him getting the ball. And, that shaken ego was ripped when he got a chance he would inevitably blow.

Here we are, August in Washington against the lowly Nationals, and the Mets were afraid to go to somebody on their roster they claim to be in their plans.

Fast forward to last Sunday, when the Rays, three outs from the World Series, went with David Price, who is a merely 23. You could see his teething ring next to the rosin bag, but he was out there throwing heat.

And succeeding.

Now, I don’t know how good Kunz will be. I can’t say the same for Bobby Parnell. But, if they are as good as they Mets trust they’ll be, then give them the chance to prove it. That’s better than to throw millions of dollars at Francisco Rodriguez, whom I believe in a couple of years will be where Billy Wagner is now – and that’s being unable to throw.

Spend the money on going after a starter and acquiring some depth in the bridge to the closer role.

20 thoughts on “Commentary: Give the kids a chance.

  1. I agree.

    It’s not as if we have a choice. There are many holes to fill and you can’t fill them all by going outside.

    I think Kunz should be on the team next year in some middle relief capacity until he gets his feet under him.

    We need to get at least one starter so we have Johan, Big Pelf, Maine and then 2 holes in the rotation that needs filling.

    As our pen sucked we keep a few and bring in some quality arms but not too expensive. In looking at the salaries for this year it seems as those making a million or less did as well or better than those making more.

    So why spend a lot when most of those who are out there are crap?

    We should sign whatever is out there at low rates and hope one or two are useful and allow one or two of the youngsters to pitch.

    We also have to decide where to put Murphy and have decisions on how to man 2b and LF.

    Dave

  2. agreed….Parnell & Kunz should be locks for the 2009 bullpen. No way I want K-Rod. Spend the money on starters and help nuture these young arms as future closers…

  3. Kunz had a golden opportunity last year to step and show he belonged. Remember, he’s not some kid out of H.S. but was drafted 1 out of college and he was awful. Price on the other hand stepped up and made the most of his opportunity. That’s what separates the winners from the losers. Kunz shouldn’t be on the team next year unless he actually beats everyone else out in spring training for a job in the bullpen and then pitches well enough to keep it. Nobody should be handed a job on the ML Roster just because some scout things they might have potential. They should earn it. Good performance in college doesn’t necessarily translate to good major league performance. There are alot of our former number 1 picks who never made the majors or who failed miserably in brief stints in the ML.

  4. chucky (4): I’m not so sure I would call it a “golden” opportunity. It was more like, “you’d better not fail, kid.” Jobs aren’t handed out, but I think they should go to spring training with the idea either Kunz or Parnell would win the closer job.-JD

  5. I think it’s time to stop looking at the free agent market as our salvation.

    I really don’t want to sink the money into K-Rod. If the Angels had confidence in his long-term performance levels, don’t you think they’d resign him? I also don’t want to sink a ton of cash into C.C. Sabathia. His physique and the number of innings he’s pitched worry me when you start talking about an expensive, long-term contract.

    I’d really like to see Omar try to pick up Orlando Hudson for second base and focus on making some trades to get younger. I’m tired of watching the Mets stockpile “proven veterans” that always seem to break down when you need them.

    It’s time to stop worrying about competing with the Yankees for back page headlines and time to start building a foundation for a consistent winner. Maybe now that Omar got his contract extension, he’ll start to think a little more long-term.

  6. “No Experience Needed from a Tampa Bay Rookie”

    The New York Times October 20, 2008
    By Alan Schwartz
    St. Petersburg, FLA.
    On Sunday night, David Price was on the mound for the last out when Tampa Bay beat Boston in Game 7 of the A.L.C.S. . — As if cutting off the Boston Red Sox’ last gasps of air in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night was not enough, and being the pitcher two dozen Tampa Bay Rays flattened in celebration afterward, David Price found himself on perhaps an even bigger stage Monday afternoon.

    At Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, the Yankees’ spring-training home, the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, was holding a rally. Price, a 23-year-old rookie with just eight major league appearances, was chosen by his teammates to introduce Obama.
    “That was pretty cool,” Price said afterward.

    No cooler than Price himself 13 hours before, when he took the ball from Rays Manager Joe Maddon with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and his team clinging to a 3-1 lead, and struck out J. D. Drew to end the threat. He struck out another two in the ninth as well, and brought bedlam to Tropicana Field when he got a forceout to end the game.

    Known mostly as a promising former No. 1 overall draft pick before that moment, Price has since catapulted himself into the national baseball consciousness — not just for the way he pitched, but for the what-me-worry sense of calm with which he did it.

    Everyone knew he had the fastball. The slider was a given. But for him to have unleashed them under those conditions, 17 months after leaving Vanderbilt University, indicated that Price’s immediate ability would be no secret when the World Series started here Wednesday night.

    “Just playing catch in the backyard with my dad,” he said Monday.

    Watching Price so easily handle Boston was particularly satisfying for his Vanderbilt coach, Tim Corbin. Corbin has an annual routine in which he takes his incoming recruits and, just as they expect him to be Mr. Coach, he becomes Mr. Science.

    Corbin takes a marshmallow, a jelly bean and a rock and, with puzzled eyes upon him, places them under a flame. The marshmallow melts from the heat; the jelly bean holds up briefly before disintegrating; and the rock — well, the rock is a rock.

    Price is an admitted former marshmallow. He said Corbin and his assistant coaches turned him into the stone-faced presence he is today. “That’s what my college coaches prepped me for — this moment, right here,” he said. “This is why I went to college.”

    Soon after Price arrived in Nashville in 2004 from Murfreesboro, Tenn., about 35 miles down Interstate 24, he started getting hit around both on the mound and in the classroom. The next January, he walked into Corbin’s office with what Corbin recalled as “puffy eyes.”

    “Basically, he told me that he was going to quit,” Corbin said. “He looked at me and said, ‘I can’t do the schoolwork here, and I’m not good enough to pitch here.’ I could tell he was coming unraveled mentally because of all of the things coming at him at once.

    “I talked with him for an hour and was confirming to him that he was in the right place, and these things happen to many people, he was not alone. A lot of things were going to change, and this was just a proving ground in his development as a person and baseball player. After I was done, he gave me a hug like he wouldn’t let go. That was the last time I ever had to talk to him about confidence.”

    Price’s inner marshmallow fossilized over those three years, and he evolved into a baseball scout’s dream — a 6-foot-6 left-hander with a mid-90s fastball with movement, a biting slider and, all but overnight, beyond-his-years poise. Descriptions of him as a young, left-handed John Smoltz were not unreasonable, and made Price Tampa Bay’s easy choice with the No. 1 pick in 2007.

    He breezed through three minor league stops this year in his professional debut, going 12-1 with a 2.30 earned run average as a starter — that is his future role — and made his major league debut in September with five and a third outstanding relief innings at Yankee Stadium.

    Price was included on the Rays’ postseason roster as a relative luxury: a third left-handed reliever, but one with top-notch pitches and no track record for opposing teams to scout. (Price remains so new to the Rays that he still occasionally refers to his team as “they.”)

    Price’s save Sunday night in the first closing chance of his professional career could very well be his last; he will almost certainly be in the Rays’ rotation next April. Maddon said on Monday that he did not expect Price to move up to the fireman role against Philadelphia. Maddon prefers to mix and match as necessary, and also did not see Price’s arm as hearty enough yet to close two nights in a row.

    But he will be used. And now, after Sunday night’s performance, the baseball world knows what Price and Maddon have known all month: that the kid is ready, a rock.

    “For him to have that confidence in me,” Price said, “and to show everybody in the world that he’s putting a 23-year-old lefty that’s pitched in seven games in his major league career out there to try and stop a rally for the Red Sox with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, that was awesome.”

    And something Phillies hitters may be seeing very soon.

  7. #5….we’ll have to disagree on that one John, if Kunz had stepped up and come through, he would have cemented his job not only on the ML Roster but as the club’s closer. I’d call that a golden opportuntity. But now since the Mets don’t know if he’ll pan out or not they’ll have to look elsewhere. With all the trouble we had with the pen last year, we can’t mess around and “hope” everything turns out okay. Also, I understand he’s getting shelled in the AFL. And you’ll never guess who his pitching coach is in the AFL……a name from the past……Wally Whithurst…:)

  8. JD- as I said last night there are plenty of guys in the organization that appear to have closer stuff but not the experience, I maybe kicking myself later but I’d rather bring in Juan Cruz and/or brandon Lyon along with the in house guys then over spend on injury risk K-Rod ( reason Angels arent making a push they have money) or once fired Fuentes….

    Scouts say Kunz, Parnell and Holt have closer stuff…

    Stokes almost won the rays closer job in 2007 ( then they put him in the rotation only 27 y/o with clarity I think he will be good)

    Muniz was a dominant closer in brooklyn

    Duaner is a year removed from surgery

  9. Chucky(8)

    Yes Kunz’s era is high. One inning he seems to have lost it. The other games he seems to do ok.

    I don’t think he should be the closer in 09. But considering what we have and how they have done the past few years, a few more quality arms will be good.

    There are many holes to fill in the pen. He will most likely be one of the answers.

  10. i dont believe krod is worth over 12 mill a year. he pitches himself into a lot of jams and certainly doesnot have many of what omar called “shut down innings.”

    not sure wear to go from there…maybe trying the kids isnt the worst idea ever. surely better than paying the closer’s roel 25 mill +

    remember the mets lost a lot of games with in the ‘pen before the ninth..gotta sure up the whole bullpen and putting band aid (big time closer) on a major open wound will not solve all the problems

  11. No way I am spending the dough on K-Rod, C.C., Sheets, Burnett, or O. Hudson. I agree with those who say the Mets need to get younger and stop bringing in the “proven vets” to solve the team’s problems….we need young players and role players who can grit out wins…

  12. I am not disagreeing with this commentary, but lets not fool ourselves into thinking Kunz or Parnell have the stuff that Price has. Price is one of the top pitching prospects in the game. I am just saying lets keep things in perspective and not over hype our own players.

  13. If we were the Marlins we could afford gambling on a young guy being the closer, but were supposed to be contenders next year so that means we need a real-time closer.

  14. No way if I was the Mets would I sign K-Rod. His fastball is down and has allot of mileage already. K-Rod would be another bad signing.

  15. I can see the young arms having an impact in the pen and maybe a number 5 spot in the rotation. I cant see them going ito spring training without a closer. Now who that is remains to be seen but I dont think it will be Parnell or Kuntz.

  16. Kyle: Were the Red Sox a small market team that could afford to gamble or were they supposed to be a contender when they turned the closing job over to 23 year old untested Jonathon Papelban? The Mets think that kids can’t do the job yet the only time the Mets excel is when kids are allowed to show their stuff. The Mets took off when Murphy was plugged in the line up and A Reyes for that matter, and started to fizzle when Manuel was afraid to play him against lefties for an entire week. Old doesn’t win World Series often. Even the Yankees had their WS streak in the 90s with young home grown guys not old worn out overfed free agensts in the declining years of their careers.

  17. Trying my best not to be obnoxious, but does anyone look at the players we are talking about in comparison? Do some research and compare David Price and Jonathan Papelbon to Robert Parnell and Eddie Kunz and tell me that our two prospects should be mentioned in the same breath as those two.