Nov 08

2011 Player Review: Mike Pelfrey

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets.

Today we begin a series on the Mets where we will take a look at each player from the 2011 season beginning with arbitration eligible players and Mets free agent players. Each day we will focus on a new player in a point/counterpoint debate on who the organization should keep or cut loose. Today we start with Mike Pelfrey.

MIKE PELFREY

THE SKINNY: Will it ever happen for Mike Pelfrey? Big things were expected from Pelfrey when the Mets made him their first-round pick out of Wichita State University in 2005. However, Pelfrey is 50-54 with a 4.40 ERA lifetime, including 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA last season.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: He’s still relatively young, inexpensive and has an upside. The Mets have precious little depth in their rotation and their prospects are years away.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: After parts of six seasons, Pelfrey has a losing record and appears to have regressed from 2010, when he won 15 games.

JOHN’S TAKE: Pelfrey has become frustratingly inconsistent during his Mets’ career, almost to the point where Oliver Perez comparisons are being made. Pelfrey appeared to have a breakout year in 2010 when he won 15 games, but last year took a giant step back into his previous world of losing focus and command. At this point of this career, Pelfrey is a No. 3 starter at best, but the reason to keep him is that he’s a No. 1 to the Mets.

With Johan Santana coming off surgery, and every other pitcher in the Mets’ rotation having significant issues in terms of health and production, little help on the minor league horizon, and the team not expecting to make a free-agent splash, the Mets don’t have many options other than to bring him back. Pelfrey earned just over $3 million last year, so it isn’t as if he’ll break the bank.

Pelfrey is still young and healthy enough for the Mets to hang on to him, especially since they aren’t expected to make a significant run at contending for the playoffs. At this stage of his career, Pelfrey’s value to the Mets is in the hope he’ll touch his potential. It’s not too late.

JOE’S TAKE: No one player on the current roster infuriates me more than Mike Pelfrey. As a gangster in a gangster movie once said, “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent”. That’s how I see Pelfrey – just a big hunk of wasted talent.

In 2010, I had some hope that maybe Pelfrey finally figured things out, but as the season wore on his amazing first half looked more and more like a fluke… Too bad. Pelfrey has had more excuses than wins in the last two seasons. His problems range from the mechanical to the physical to the psychological to the bizarre. Pitching coach Dan Warthen said something about fixing him during Spring Training, but instead he regressed terribly.

When given the Opening Day assignment be Terry Collins, Pelfrey spoke about what it felt like to replace Johan Santana and he said he was up for the challenge and looking forward to it. On Opening Day he folded like a cheap chair. On April 1st he only lasted 4.1 innings against the Marlins allowing five runs, and it got worse from there. Truth be told, if he is still on the team next spring he should not be assured of a rotations spot and he should earn it along with the rest pitchers vying for a spot.

As far as tendering/non-tendering goes, the better question is why didn’t Alderson try and move him last season. Teams take chances on pitchers with potential all the time and if you’re waiting for Pelfrey to boost his value that may never happen while he’s a Met. I could think of a dozen other productive things the Mets could do with $5 million dollars than give it to Pelfrey.

Nov 01

Back in the saddle; Mets aren’t.

Greetings folks.

I just got my power back this morning, but don’t have heat. Some kind of surge during the outage blew out the furnace and they aren’t coming until tomorrow. Shivering here, and not getting any warmer learning about the Mets’ offseason plans.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets surfaced again yesterday with the news the Yankees re-signed GM Brian Cashman and reached an agreement on an extension with pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s the agressive, proactive approach.

Meanwhile, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson announced the fences would be moved in, but their exclusive negotiating rights with Jose Reyes would pass without the franchise making an offer. Alderson said this would be a “slow process.”

As I recently suggested, the Mets will let others define the market for Reyes with the hope the shortstop will find the options limited and he’ll opt to stay home. Cherry picking, they call it, and it worked in the trade for Johan Santana.

With big spenders in the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out, the Cubs not needing a shortstop and their aim on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, and the Dodgers being a mess, the market is thinner than Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg, would like.

The Phillies – if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins – San Francisco, the Angels and Washington are also reported as teams that might have an interest in Reyes. That’s a decidedly reactive approach, and further defines the comparison to the Yankees.

The likelihood of the Mets re-signing Reyes seems remote, so this might be their best chance to keep him because they won’t be the highest bidder.

The decision to move in the fences will probably cut down on the triples and increase home runs, and some will read this as an admission, or concession, they will lose their All-Star shortstop.

The decision has more to do with salvaging the contract of Jason Bay and reviving  David Wright’s career, which has shown a significant power decline the past three seasons.

Citi Field was designed for a team built on pitching, defense and speed, but the Mets have not added those kinds of players. At least, not enough of them.

I still believe that’s the most fundamental way to construct a team, but the Mets are a team in financial distress and are hoping an increase in home runs will make the cash registers ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 18

On the eve of the Series …. Alderson knew what he was getting into.

The drive to Ohio is long and tedious, much like a New York Mets summer the past three years. Went back home to visit my father, who was hospitalized, and apologize for the lapse in posts.

My mind was on other things.

I am anxious for the World Series to start, and I would like to see the Cardinals because that would complete one of the great comebacks in baseball history. The Cardinals have what it takes to complete history.

Either way, if the Rangers won, that would also be a compelling story, especially for Mets fans who still have a fondness for Nolan Ryan.

The Cardinals have the best pitcher and player in the Series in Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols, plus the extra game at home. Both teams are sizzling at the right time.

In looking at the two teams, it is easy to see what separates them from the Mets, and, of course, you have to wonder how far our boys are away.

Both teams have a stud hitter in Pujols and Josh Hamilton, reliable starters in Carpenter and CJ Wilson, good bullpens and support throughout the batter orders.

The Mets have David Wright and Mike Pelfrey, holes in the order and are shambles in the bullpen and rotation. If everybody in the NL East stands pat, and you know they won’t, at best the Mets are fourth in the division.

Bringing back Jose Reyes won’t change that, either. So, it was interesting to read the ESPN report of Chip Hale’s assessment, and that of some NL scouts, on Ruben Tejada’s development.

One scout said Tejada is ready to play and the best decision for the Mets would be to plug him in, let Reyes go and spend the money patching their numerous pitching holes.

I’ve been saying that since the trade deadline.

It’s not that I dislike Reyes. To the contrary, he’s been one of my favorite Mets to deal with, but realistically, he has limitations and the team has other priorities. If Tejada was a lost cause, it might be different, but there is promise there.

The Cardinals and Rangers wouldn’t be here without Pujols and Hamilton, respectively. Reyes, and also Wright, don’t carry the same weight with the Mets.

At one time, Reyes and Wright represented the Mets’ core, but times have changed. The team has lost key complementary pieces while both players have declined and have had health issues.

Sandy Alderson was brought in here to rebuild this franchise, and it is becoming clearer that both Reyes and Wright or no longer cornerstones. Too bad, but that is the reality.

Another reality, is Alderson knew the guidelines when he took the job. Not much got by Alderson, if anything, when he was working in the commissioner’s office. He got the job on the strong recommendation of Bud Selig, so he had a strong sense of the Wilpon’s financial issues.

When he came here he said it would take time, rebuilding wouldn’t come over night and the Mets’ culture had to change. That would include handing out massive contracts.

That is why I would be shocked if Reyes was brought back, wouldn’t be surprised if Wright isn’t dealt, and why the team would love to cut ties with Johan Santana and Jason Bay.

We knew 2011 and 2012 would be written off, and we wouldn’t have a clearer idea of the future until 2013 at the earliest.

Oct 13

What will be Mets’ splash?

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Mets won’t be players for any of the big-ticket free agents, perhaps even their own in Jose Reyes. The top pitching free agent is the Rangers’ CJ Wilson, whom the Yankees have their sights on and don’t we already know which New York team he’d choose? It’s always that way, isn’t it?

The Mets say they have the resources, but even after positive news on the legal-financial front, there’s been nothing from GM Sandy Alderson saying they’ll spend. He said they have the money to compete for Reyes, but to add little else, and with a myriad of needs and David Wright’s contract to be an issue soon, there’s not much light ahead.

It’s not comforting when the outfield dimensions and the search for a bench coach is what appears to be what passes for off-season news. On one hand, there’s a sense of comfort Alderson being up-front in pretty much saying “don’t expect much,” but on the other there’s uneasiness in knowing that’s where the Mets stand.

What we do know is the Phillies will be angry and will spend as they always do; Atlanta is always trying to improve; the Marlins will spend to try to make a splash heading into their new stadium; and the Nationals have shown a willingness to write checks.

The Mets? Well, they said they want to cut payroll by as much as $30 million. Kind of makes you want to run out and buy season-tickets now, right?

Oct 06

Warthen survives coaching staff purge.

Since you can’t change all the players, you might as well change the coaching staff.

WARTHEN: The answer?

 

The Mets made a big deal of saying this year they’ve changed the culture of the franchise, but shouldn’t some of that credit go to the coaching staff?

If things were so improved, then how come only two coaches are staying on?

Only pitching coach Dan Warthen and hitting coach Dave Hudgens will remain in their current roles for 2012. Rising star Chip Hale, bench coach Ken Oberkfell, first base coach Mookie Wilson and bullpen coach Jon Debus are gone.

Stunning actually, considering how this team’s attitude had supposedly changed. Then again, did it really after watching Jose Reyes take his bow and leave?

Triple-A manager Tim Tueful is now the third base coach and his pitching coach at Buffalo, Ricky Bones, takes over as bullpen coach.

They’ll fill the bench coach and first base coach positions in the next few weeks. Wally Backman is not being considered for a major league job, but instead will take over for Teuful at Buffalo.

The Mets raved about Hale, so it makes you wonder why he didn’t get the bench job. Or, why he felt the need to leave.

The speculated answer as to the departures was a chemistry issue with Terry Collins. Hale was invited to stay in another capacity, but bolted for the bench job in Oakland. He obviously didn’t see a future here, or a co-existence with Collins.

Oberkfell, who managed on the Triple-A level for six years with the Mets, was not invited to stay. Sandy Alderson gave a song-and-dance about doing a nice job but needing somebody with a “different set of experiences,’’ clearly GM speak for a clash in personalities.

The only surprise is Warthen, who presided over one of the worst staffs and rotations in the majors. Perhaps he got a pass because of the injuries to Johan Santana and Jon Niese, and helped make Chris Capuano a positive reclamation project, but pitching is clearly an issue with this team.

Mike Pelfrey regressed tremendously and the Mets used 16 different relievers in the pen, few of them consistently effective. Bobby Parnell, whom the club envisions as its closer, has definite shortcomings. There isn’t a starter without a significant question next to his name.

Only one starter, Dillon Gee, had a winning record, and only R.A. Dickey had a sub-4.00 ERA among the starters. The staff walked 514 hitters this year, down from 545 the previous season. The Mets ranked ninth worst this season as opposed to seventh in 201o, so we’re not talking that great of an improvement.

Without question, pitching is the Mets’ main priority, and I wonder, with no influx of talent expected from the trade and free-agent markets, what makes Alderson think Warthen has the answers now after not having them since taking over for Rick Peterson in 2008?