Jun 26

Bobby Parnell Now Mets Closer

We’ve been here before: The Mets will use Bobby Parnell as their closer while Frank Francisco is on the DL. The Mets once had visions of Parnell starting, but that fizzled. He’s been tried as the closer several times, including late last season, but never grasped the job.

Parnell got the opportunity last September after Jason Isringhausen earned his 300th save, but only converted three of seven opportunities. That forced the Mets to go after Jon Rauch and Francisco last winter in the FA market.

Collins has handled Parnell conservatively this season and believes he’s ready for another shot. In 36 appearances, Parnell is 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA with 31 strikeouts.

“I think his confidence is much better,” Collins told reporters in Chicago. “I think his experience doing it already is going to help him this year. So he’s going to get that chance.

“I wanted him to have that confidence. That’s why throughout this whole first half, when we mixed and matched who was going to pitch where, Bobby was absolutely dominant in that seventh-inning spot, where he was coming in and mowing guys down. So his confidence was high.”

Then the defense bailed on him in Washington which led to a couple of blown save opportunities.

Parnell attributed his success this season to taking something off his fastball. He’s still in the mid-90’s, but with better control.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Parnell said. “I’ve had good success with that. I try not to overthrow. I’m just trying to throw strikes in the bottom of the zone and flip a couple of curveballs up there and get them off balance.”

Jun 12

There Are Reasons Behind Mets’ Slide

First things first, sorry for not posting yesterday. As you know, I’ve had surgery and it isn’t healing as I had hoped. I’ve had to shut some things down and yesterday I went back to the doctor. It hasn’t been a good time, and watching the Mets hasn’t made things much easier.

They’ve gone from eight games over and all being right with the world to three games over and the resurfacing of old concerns and worries:

THE BULLPEN: We knew this would be a problem going into the season, and despite its fast start things have digressed as anticipated. It hasn’t helped Jon Rauch’s elbow is ailing. The bullpen was a major cause in losing six of seven games, with an accent on the Yankees’ series. GM Sandy Alderson is contemplating moves from the outside to add depth to the pen. You haven’t heard much about Jenrry Mejia recently, but presumably remains on the table. In regard to the trade route, the Mets don’t want to give up too much, but they must weigh that against the probability their starters will remain effective and their chances with the enhanced wild-card format. Other factors include Washington remaining competitive and Philadelphia improving.

DEFENSE: Let’s face it, it has been spotty all season but lately it has worsened, especially without shortstop Ruben Tejada. Those games against the Yankees seemed like one continuous Luis Castillo flashback. When a team has pitching problems and a spotty offense, it can’t afford many defensive lapses. The Mets are giving up more than they are scoring and that can’t continue. It has already started to catch up to them.

WELCOME BACK JASON BAY: It isn’t as if his return is attributable to their recent problems, but 0-for-11 isn’t exactly inspiring much confidence he’ll add a spark. He certainly hasn’t warranted getting his job back unconditionally. Until Bay proves he can hit and is worth anything close to the $66 million the Mets will pay him, Terry Collins has to seriously think about a platoon system. Then again, Andres Torres might make that decision for him because he’s bringing absolutely nothing to the table.

COLLECTIVE HITTING SLUMP: Do you remember all those two-out runs? Where did they all go? It isn’t just Bay and Torres. David Wright and Daniel Murphy have both cooled. Lucas Duda leads with ten homers, but has provided little else. Ike Davis has provided little of anything and the minor leagues is fast becoming a viable option.

When the Mets were eight games over there was a lot of optimism, and many of the holes were ignored. Perhaps the Mets overachieved the first third of the season and the holes were camouflaged. Well, you can see them now, clearer than ever.

What’s also clear is Tampa Bay’s pitching makes it harder than ever to resolve those issues.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Continue reading

May 14

Mets Must Explore Bullpen Options Outside Frank Francisco

As I said yesterday, a team is only as strong as its bullpen. The Mets have exceeded most expectations save one: The bullpen remains a concern. It is the Mets’ weakest link.
Frank Francisco blew his second save in three games, meaning in a perfect world they would have swept the Marlins this weekend and gone 6-0 on their road trip.. However, baseball, as we know, is an imperfect sport and the Mets certainly are an imperfect team.
In the long term Francisco will remain the closer simply because of that ridiculous two-year, $12-million contract. If a player’s own team has no interest in him, then why do the Mets give multi-year deals? Wasn’t anything learned from the Omar Minaya era?
Manager Terry Collins needs to address this sooner than later, because nothing can kill the good vibrations the Mets have emitted this spring than a leaky bullpen. Jon Rauch? Tim Brydak? Back to Bobby Parnell? Perhaps a committee?
Collins knows his personnel better than anybody, but clearly everybody can tell right now Francisco is not the answer.
“He’s the boss,” Francisco told reporters. “He can do whatever he wants. I’m here to help the team; I guess I’m not doing that. Whatever decision he makes, it’s fine with me. But I’m here to fight. Whenever I can, I’m going to try to do my best out there every time I go out.”
So far, Francisco’s best is an 8.56 ERA, with 20 hits and seven walks in 13 2/3 innings. Those numbers are positively Oliver Perez-like.
ON DECK: Mets week ahead.