Jul 23

Bobby Parnell Laments Luck; Doesn’t Take Responsibility

The New York Mets gift-wrapped a game last night to Atlanta. However, there’s nothing to like after hearing Bobby Parnell, who did more dancing than pitching after blowing his fifth save opportunity.

The Mets don’t want to deal Parnell because they believe he’s their closer of the future. His 18 saves is a good indicator, but he’s not immune from some head scratching and wonder.

PARNELL: Spits the bit. (AP)

PARNELL: Spits the bit. (AP)

Yes, Parnell was victimized by a hit against the shift, a bloop and a passed ball, but the bottom line is the closer must overcome and pitch out of trouble, whether it is somebody else’s or his.

Mariano Rivera didn’t become the greatest closer in history by whining about bad luck as Parnell did.

“I didn’t feel like I gave up any hard-hit balls,’’ Parnell told reporters last night. “They just, unfortunately, got through. I wouldn’t have done anything different, I don’t think.

“I didn’t walk anybody. I didn’t give up free bases. I attacked the zone. Unfortunately it just wasn’t my day.’’

Really? You wouldn’t have done anything differently? You were happy with the placement of the pitch John Buck couldn’t handle? You were happy with the grooved pitch to Reed Johnson that produced the go-ahead run? Seriously, you attacked the zone?

Let’s first look at the passed ball. Parnell said he thought he saw a fastball sign, but Buck called for a curveball. It’s the ninth inning, so you must be sure. That’s not bad luck, that’s not taking care of business.

“We don’t know who was right and who was wrong,” Parnell said. “We’re not going to worry about it, and get them tomorrow.’’

It’s not that simple. It is the pitcher who decides what, when and where’s he’s going to throw a pitch. If the pitcher doesn’t like what is called, or is uncertain, then he doesn’t throw the pitch. It is that simple. What Parnell did was surrender control of the situation.

There are times saying “get them tomorrow,’’ doesn’t cut it and last night was one of them. While it remains possible there was legitimate miscommunication, it is Parnell’s job to get the next hitters out, which he did not.

Somehow, Parnell must find a way to get the outs he needed, as Dillon Gee did in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh.

Parnell has made significant improvement, but remains a project. His .097 WHIP is a career best, as is his 2.0 walks per nine innings average. His 6.8 hits per nine innings are his best since 2008.

However, his 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings is his lowest since 2009, which leads to the suggestion when Parnell needs a strikeout, as he did last night, he’s unable to get it despite still throwing in the mid-to-high 90s.

Terry Collins defended not playing the infield in against Chris Johnson, who hit a game-tying RBI grounder to shortstop, when what Parnell desperately needed was the strikeout.

Unlike Rivera, whose cutter might be baseball’s most devastating pitch, Parnell’s money pitch is still the fastball, which is reliant on movement, location and velocity – in that order – to be effective.

Parnell’s wasn’t working, which made throwing the knuckle-curve difficult.

It is about execution. Luck is irrelevant. Great closers understand the difference.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 11

Mets Should Hold On Tight To Bobby Parnell

The New York Mets are finally showing signs of life to the point where their rebuilding plan could be believable. So, what should their next step be? Hmmm, according to some they should trade Bobby Parnell.

Unless they are offered a knockout package – that would include the likes of Jackie Bradley – they should hang tight to Parnell.

PARNELL: Keep him.

PARNELL: Keep him.

Because of the save rule, which needs to be modified, the save is undervalued and the stock argument is a closer can always be found.

If that is the case, tell it to the Tigers and Red Sox. Tell it to the Yankees, who, if they haven’t already, will admit to being spoiled after Mariano Rivera retires.

Dave Robertson is the one who will slide into the ninth-inning role for the Yankees next year. But, he will learn there’s a vast difference between being the set-up man and THE MAN. There’s something about the ninth inning with no safety net that changes your perspective. It’s not as simple as measuring the basket in Hoosiers and discovering “it’s 10 feet, the same as in our gym back in Hickory.’’

There’s a mentality shift in becoming a closer and not everybody can make it happen like Rivera. Ron Davis found it a lot harder being the closer than the set-up man for Goose Gossage.

The fact is closers aren’t a dime a dozen. While it seems every team has somebody with 25 or more saves, then why are so many teams still looking?

It has taken time, but Parnell is finally grasping the ninth inning role. He’s spit the bit before, but this year it’s coming together for him and the contenders are noticing.

And, like vultures circling what they perceive as a dead carcass in the Mets’ season, they are waiting for Sandy Alderson to make Parnell available.

However, there’s no longer the inevitability this will be the Mets’ fifth straight losing season. The Mets were 15 games under .500 on June 15, and were losing in the ninth inning the following day when Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered off the Chicago Cubs’ once invincible starter Carlos Marmol.

They have scrapped back to eight games under today. In that span, Matt Harvey has won two games, lost one and had two of his ten no-decisions.

Harvey’s overall year, plus Zack Wheeler’s promise have painted the picture of the Mets being relevant in 2014. Will trading Parnell push them over the top?

No, because if they deal Parnell they will put themselves in position of needing a closer. Trading Parnell tells us the gap to competitiveness is a lot wider.

What the Mets should do is nothing. They should keep Parnell, keep Marlon Byrd and keep whatever other chips they might have and try to make something out of this season.

Will they reach the playoffs? Probably not, but if management lets them play out the season we would get a clearer picture of their needs heading into the offseason.

If the Mets traded Parnell and Byrd, it would signify surrender, which could lead into a tailspin and blur how good or bad they are.

Trading Parnell, or even suggesting it, displays a loser’s mentality.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 28

Mets Should Explore Trading Ike Davis To Yankees

Why is Ike Davis still in Triple-A Las Vegas when the New York Mets should be exploring all their options, including trading him to the Bronx?

With Mark Teixeira out for the remainder of the season after re-injuring his wrist, and with a good chance the Mets won’t tender Davis in the off-season and let him walk, shouldn’t two plus two equal four?

DAVIS: Mets should be talking to Yanks about him.

DAVIS: Mets should be talking to Yanks about him.

The Yankees remain contenders despite not having Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson. Who knows if, and when, they’ll return? In the interim, Davis might give them a boost.

The Yankees’ offense has been as barren as the Mets’ have been, but because of their starting pitching, Mariano Rivera and a fast start, they are still a potential force in the AL East.

However, they are in need of a first baseman and a bat. Travis Hafner can no longer play first and his bat has cooled considerably. You’d think the Yankees would jump at the chance to add a left-handed power hitter such as Davis, who is making a little over $3 million.

That would be a very easy contract for the Yankees to pick up, and if it doesn’t work out they can always non-tender Davis this winter. Either way, does anybody really expect to see Davis in Flushing in 2014?

Davis is starting to hit in Vegas and was recently named the Pacific Coast Player of the Week. I can see him salivating at the opportunity to hit at Yankee Stadium.

Despite Davis’ rising numbers in Vegas, the Mets are reluctant to bring him up, citing facing a pair of left-handers against both the Nationals and Diamondbacks in their upcoming homestand at Citi Field. That should tell you something about the Mets’ feelings regarding Davis. If they thought he has found it, he’d be heading on a plane to New York.

Perhaps, the Yankees can see the same thing in Davis. However, they aren’t dealing from a position of strength, and desperate times could mean the desperate measure of trading for Davis.

Davis appears to have worn out his welcome with the Mets, while Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are reportedly done after this year with the Yankees. They won’t get both, but I’d trade Davis for Hughes even-up in a heartbeat.

A change of scenery could work for all concerned. This could work with some tweaking.

Sandy Alderson should be on the phone with Brian Cashman, and soon.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 31

Mets Must Do More To Stay Relevant

Shaun Marcum is pitching to extend the Mets’ winning streak to six games tonight in Miami. The Mets surprised some people this week, perhaps even the Phillies and Nationals, whom they trail by one and two games, respectively, in the lost column.

The Mets have three with the Marlins before heading to Washington. It sure would add some spice to the spring if the Mets were to close the gap on the Nationals before getting to DC.

PARNELL: Leads recent bullpen surge. (AP_

PARNELL: Leads recent bullpen surge. (AP)

They obviously became relevant to the Yankees this week, but there are several things that must happen for that relevance to carry over to the National League East.

It begins with pitching, and the Mets have been superb in not giving up a walk for three straight games. That’s something they hadn’t done since 1994, and almost incomprehensible.

The time is rapidly approaching when Zack Wheeler could be ready, but they should ride Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee – both coming off strong starts – for as long as they can. Marcum will stay in the rotation by virtue of making $4 million this year.

Mets starters are on a roll with a 2.91 ERA in over their last nine starts. The bullpen is also producing, giving up just two runs in its last 13.2 innings. The Mets bullpen has seven victories, but that can be misleading as it indicates blown saves by the middle-inning pitchers and entering the game with the starter either tied or behind.

Should the pitching continue the Mets could find themselves in an interesting summer. Stranger things have happened.

The Mets’ offense collapsed in the second half last year, and save David Wright and Daniel Murphy, there’s been little consistent production.

That must change, and fast.

Marlon Byrd came through Thursday night and Lucas Duda the night before, but more is needed from Duda and Ike Davis.

How bad has Davis been? Consider this, he has 13 RBI for the season. In contrast, Cubs pitchers have 19 in May.

Davis is batting eighth tonight and those whispers of going back to the minors are getting louder. As long as the Mets are winning, Davis is likely to stay. But, eventually he needs to get this straightened out.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against Miami starter Jacob Turner:

Omar Quintanilla, SS: The eighth Met to hit in the leadoff spot.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games, including nine doubles, two homers and 10 RBI.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting just .189  (7-37) in his last ten games.

Lucas Duda, LF: Has hit in 11 of last 13 games (.308), including game-ending run Tuesday against Mariano Rivera.

John Buck, C: Hitting .350 (14-40) with RISP.

Rick Ankiel, CF: Has two homers and seven RBI in 15 games with Mets.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has 14 RBI in 19 games in May.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitting .141 on the road with no homers.

Shaun Marcum, RHP: Coming off 12-strikeout performance in no-decision against Braves.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 31

Too Much Made Of Jeff Wilpon’s Comments

I could not help but laugh over the flap made over Jeff Wilpon’s comments Tuesday during the Mets’ gift presentation to retiring Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera.

In giving Rivera a fire hose nozzle and fire call box symbolic of being the history’s greatest closer, Wilpon said: “I wish we could see you in the World Series, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year.’’

WILPON: No harm, no foul.

WILPON: No harm, no foul.

The perception is Wilpon has already given up on the season. Of course, the Mets could make a historic run, but does anybody really believe that is possible? I don’t, and neither should anybody with half a brain, or someone with any knowledge of baseball.

Go ahead, save that paragraph and give it to me if the Mets are in the World Series. Wilpon wasn’t trashing his own team and it slays me to have read otherwise this week.

From the media, it was somebody reaching for a headline. And, from the talk-radio crowd, just the same old provincial drivel from those who believe in a conspiracy against the Mets. Sure, it would be great to see October baseball again, but it won’t happen for the Mets this year.

If you’ve been paying attention, don’t count on the Mets reaching contender status for two or three more seasons. They simply have too many holes and weaknesses.

Then there is the issue whether the Mets are able to use Wilpon’s words as motivation. Collins told ESPN.com prior to Thursday’s game such external motivation was overrated.

“You’d have to take a poll in there [of] how many guys read that stuff,’’ Collins said. “If that motivated them, we’ll be blasting them again tonight.’’

True enough.

These guys are professionals and if they are reliant on quotes such as Wilpon’s or bulletin board material they are in trouble. Occasionally that stuff works, but not on a consistent basis, and not enough to carry a mediocre-to-weak team over the course of a season.

The flipside of Wilpon’s comments is if he said something like, “we’ll see you in the World Series,’’ he would have been roasted for being cocky, with his words held against him when it didn’t happen.

Collins, whose job is of lame duck status, certainly isn’t stupid enough to rally his team around his boss’ comments. And, Wilpon definitely would not attempt to rattle the collective cages of his players by slighting them.

Sometimes, too much is made of nothing, and this is one of those times.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos