May 17

Mets Latest Bullpen Collapse Raises Questions About Jenrry Mejia Role

Let’s face it, D.J. Carrasco was gone before Todd Frazier’s home run landed. Carrasco was designated for assignment after last night’s bullpen meltdown, the perpetrators being Jon Rauch and Carrasco. The victim, not surprisingly, was Johan Santana.

MEJIA: Mets undecided.

Taking Carrasco’s spot on the roster will be left-hander Robert Carson from Double-A Binghamton.

With Chris Young expected back into the rotation by early June, that leaves the Mets with the dilemma about what to do with Jenrry Mejia. He has the stuff to be a lights out closer, that is when his command is on. What he doesn’t have yet is mastery of his secondary pitches. The Mets are working with him on that as a starter.

Two years ago, under Jerry Manuel’s watch, the Mets brought him up to work out of the bullpen. He had flashes, both mostly was hammered and demoted, where he was put into the rotation and eventually hurt his arm. Manuel insisted on Mejia because he was worried about his job security.  That didn’t work out well for Mejia or Manuel.

Despite pitching as a starter now, the organization doesn’t know what Mejia’s future role will be. If Bobby Parnell made it as a closer, this decision would have already been made.

But, he didn’t and the bullpen remains a mess. That they signed Frank Francisco to two years means they don’t have faith in Parnell as closer and lingering doubts about Mejia’s durability.

It is easier to make the transition from starter to reliever than the reverse. The Mets have had plenty of time to decide. One or the other.

May 15

Terry Collins Sticks With Frank Francisco As Mets Closer

I’m not crazy about the idea of the Mets sticking with struggling closer Frank Francisco, and definitely wasn’t as the ninth inning started to get away. However, when that ball stayed up in the right-center gap, it ensured Francisco would remain the closer for another day.

COLLINS: Being consistent.

Collins dismissed the idea of replacing Francisco, even temporarily, from the spot where the Mets will pay him $12 million for two years. I didn’t like the signing then, and I don’t like it now. Maybe Sandy Alderson is having second thoughts, but with that commitment unless Francisco becomes a total bust he’ll stay.

Collins didn’t say salary was the reason, but somewhere it must come into play.

The Mets are winning in part because their chemistry has been good, and mostly Francisco has contributed to that. Francisco’s recent struggles are too small a window to make the decision, Collins said. Removing Francisco has a trickle down effect throughout the bullpen. Jon Rauch’s role changes, so to does that of Tim Byrdak and Bobby Parnell.

There are rough times and there is unraveling, and changing everybody’s role alters the chemistry and changes everything. I recall the Mets doing than at the end of the 2007 season during their epic collapse.

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Sep 07

Collins waffling on Parnell?

One of the many things about Jerry Manuel that drove me crazy was his inability to make, and stick, with a decision. For the most part Terry Collins has been the opposite, but there are waffling signs with him on Bobby Parnell.

PARNELL: Is Collins waffling on him as closer?

After Parnell’s blown save against the Nationals, Collins said Parnell would stay in the closer role because he wanted to display faith and avoid a kneejerk decision.

Collins wasn’t so supportive after last night, and suggested Parnell might need some non-save opportunities to bolster his confidence.

There’s no question about Parnell’s stuff, but his command is what has gotten him in trouble. Wildness isn’t just walking batters, but falling behind in the count and having to come in with the fastball.

Of course, that’s consistent with every pitcher.

As Parnell needs to develop confidence in his secondary pitches, he also has to get some from his manager. Collins said he’d get a chance to win the closer role, and that means overcoming rough stretches. That’s hard to do when it’s not the ninth inning, because part of becoming a closer is coming to grips with it being the final inning.

This is a prime learning opportunity with games that have meaning, definitely more of a test than during spring training.

No, I can’t say Parnell will ever become a quality major league closer. I can’t say he won’t, either. But, we’ll never know unless Collins sticks with him for the remaining three weeks. Manuel sabotaged Parnell as a starter several years ago. Here’s hoping Collins doesn’t do the same as a closer.

That’s in the best interest of Parnell and the Mets, because if you look at the other options – Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato or Jason Isringhausen – you realize Parnell has the highest ceiling for 2012.

 

Sep 04

The need to ride this out with Parnell

Tbe Mets were hot on this date in 1974 as Ray Sadecki beat the Cubs for their seventh straight victory and tenth in their last 11 games.

Then Bobby Parnell coughed it up the next day in the ninth inning at Washington. Ooops, that was last night.  Another in a long line of excruciating defeats this season. And another kick in the gut after a hot stretch.

With the season lost, we’re just trying to find things to hold onto over the winner and Parnell, as the closer, isn’t providing us with the warm and fuzzies.

Parnell has the best stuff, but stuff is useless if you don’t know how to use it. They are searching for answers younger than Jason Isringhausen, and the Mets are hoping Parnell will win the job.

Let’s face it, there’s really nobody else on the current staff that is inspiring.

Confidence is a fragile thing for a closer, and Parnell’s over the past few years has been like china. Jerry Manuel gave up on Parnell as a starter in a lost September after a handful of starts, but at the time Manuel – and rightfully so – was worried about his job and needed every win he could get. Terry Collins isn’t in the same position, so I’m hoping he’ll ride with Parnell to see how he rebounds.

A pat on the back is essential for his development at this stage.

 

Aug 22

What to do with Pelfrey and Parnell?

It was interesting to hear the Mets are thinking of converting Mike Pelfrey to the closer role. Such a decision touches on two issues, neither of them of an immediate positive nature.

The first, of course, is concerns whether Pelfrey will ever be the dominant starter envisioned of him, and signs of which he flashed last season. The second is their doubts on Bobby Parnell becoming a closer.

PELFREY: Could he be a closer?

Pelfrey has regressed. His command is erratic and he continues to have trouble putting away hitters and closing innings, which is the prime requisite of being a closer, so it  makes me wonder if it will work. Then again, Pelfrey tends to run into trouble the second and third time through the order after hitters have had a chance to look at him. One inning might be the change of scenery he might need. It is definitely worth trying instead of dumping him.

As far as Parnell is concerned, he has trouble in the eighth, so the ninth is alarming.

If the Mets are serious about this, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try the last five weeks of the season. What do they have to lose? After all, does it matter whether they finish in fourth or fifth place in the NL East?

The Mets wanted Parnell to start a couple of years ago, but Jerry Manuel did him a disservice when he yanked him from the rotation when the season was already lost. At the time, Parnell’s problem was commanding his secondary pitches and finding away to work out of jams. He was never going to learn without the opportunity, and when he went back to the bullpen it became easy for him to rely mostly on his fastball.

If there is a possible experiment for Parnell the remainder of the season it could be as a long reliever, where he gets two, maybe three innings.

The Mets’ bullpen is a disaster so looking at Pelfrey is worth a shot. It might provide an indication of what direction to go this winter. With Parnell, there’s not enough time to stretch him out now so if they want to go back to him in the rotation that would be a spring training project.

The Mets don’t figure to spend much this winter again so it doesn’t hurt to look at internal options. There is young talent in the lower minor leagues and Jenrry Mejia is an injury concern, so there’s no immediate help available.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.