Sep 15

Jenrry Mejia Getting His Chance

A mark of a good manager is putting his players in position to succeed. He shouldn’t force a player to do something he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, thereby increasing the chance of failure.

That’s what Jerry Manuel did to Jenrry Mejia in 2010. With his job clearly in jeopardy and no bullpen to speak of, Manuel insisted on putting Jenrry Mejia in a relief role coming out of spring training despite no experience at it and, no definable role with the Mets.

Mejia didn’t work for long stretches and struggled when he did get in games. Eventually, he performed so poorly he was optioned out. Once in the minors, they tried him as a starter again. He was eventually injured.

He starts tonight at Milwaukee, despite his last three appearances at Triple-A Buffalo being in relief, this after a solid stretch as a starter.

You guessed it, the Mets still don’t have an idea where Mejia fits into their 2013 plans.

Mejia had dramatically more success at Triple-A Buffalo this season as a starting pitcher than working in the bullpen. He had a 2.75 ERA in ten starts and a 5.48 ERA in 16 relief outings.

His manager at Buffalo, Wally Backman, has faith in him as a reliever.

“You know what? He had never really relieved before, until he got to the big leagues for the short time [in 2010],’’ Backman said. “They sent him back to Triple-A and he started. And then he got hurt. So this year he started as a starter.

“`And [then] we put him in the bullpen. And, believe it or not, I think it was his last three outings in the bullpen, he was pretty good. Then we all of a sudden started him again. To me, he was figuring it out.’’

Mejia has it figured out in his mind as to what he wants to do and where he’s most comfortable and it is starting.

“That’s what I’m looking forward (to),’’ Mejia said. “I want to show them I want to be a starter. I can do my job like a starter.’’

Mejia said he feels more in control with his pitches starting, perhaps because at the start of the game there’s less pressure and more a margin for error than in the eighth or ninth innings.

On paper the Mets’ rotation seems set for 2013, but it must be remembered Johan Santana and Dillon Gee are coming off injuries; Jonathan Niese has a way to go before reaching his potential and might have regressed this year; and Matt Harvey is unproven over the long haul.

All those variables could open up a spot for Mejia.

Sep 14

Should Be Calm Weekend in Brew Town; Keep Duda In Left

My guess is there won’t be any retaliatory fireworks this weekend when the Mets are in Milwaukee this weekend.

When DJ Carrasco plunked Ryan Braun this spring, Terry Collins pulled David Wright from the game to protect his All-Star – over Wright’s objections – yanked Carrasco and cut him the next day. Collins then made sure of talking with Braun at the All-Star Game to smooth over any lingering animosity.

Odds are that conversation, plus bouncing Carrasco, was proof enough for the Brewers that stuff wouldn’t be tolerated by the Mets. Also, tempering the emotions this weekend is that Milwaukee is suddenly in the wild-card race.

With the games growing increasingly important, and scarce, why would the Brewers risk riling up the Mets and possibly exposing Braun to another beaning? That would be the height of stupidity.

This should be an interesting series even without the dramatics.

The Mets will start Jenrry Mejia tomorrow in his first start of the season.

After all this time, unbelievably there are some in the organization split on what his role should be. He’s had some degree of success at both in the minor leagues, but also a measure of frustration on the major league level.

They’ve stretched him out already and with Matt Harvey shut down after one more start, that would open up an opportunity for Mejia to get three starts in the final month. That should be enough for the Mets to get a clue as where they should put in during spring training.

With Johan Santana and Dillon Gee coming off injuries, Harvey in his first full season, and the uncertainty of Zach Wheeler, there will be starting opportunities next year, and with the Mets not likely to spend in the off-season, having Mejia in place in a must.

Another reason Mejia should be in the rotation is that starters are harder to come by than relievers. It seems every winter there is a closer available. The caveat with closers is they can be hit or miss, and Mets fans don’t have to go back far to recall Frank Francisco and Frankie Rodriguez. Both saved more than they blew, but both also provided anxious moments. Come to think of it, so did Billy Wagner.

One thing I’m not getting lately, unless the Mets’ intent is to showcase him in a trade, is the sudden need to see Lucas Duda again at first base. We saw plenty of him last year, and what the Mets need to find out is if he can play left field because he plays right as if it were a minefield. Duda is in left and Ike Davis back at first tonight.

The Mets like Duda’s power potential, and unless they move him, he seems destined to platoon with Jason Bay in left field. If both Duda and Bay are on the team next season, I’d rather see Bay in right field.

 

May 29

Mets Settling On Jenrry Mejia Status

Jenrry Mejia might have the best stuff in the Mets’ minor league system, and that stuff could translate into a productive, and perhaps lucrative, career as a starter. But, It won’t this year.

The problem I’ve always had with the Mets’ handling of Mejia is their indecisiveness in how to use his talented arm. That problem was brought into focus two years ago, when Jerry Manuel, desperate for help in the bullpen rushed him to the major league level as a reliever. That season they brought him north in the pen, the  demoted him as a starter when he struggled. Eventually, Mejia had Tommy John surgery.

Is there a correlation? That seems a reasonable conclusion. Even if inaccurate, it is hard to dispute the perception.

The Mets are using Mejia in their rotation on the minor league level currently, with visions of bringing him up shortly to work in the pen. I’m not crazy about the Mets repeating the scenario, but the key difference is they are working first to build up his stamina and strength first before changing his role.

Will it work? I don’t know, but this time the Mets appear to be laying the foundation first. What I don’t want to see is the Mets changing course on Mejia if there is a setback. Let him go the entire season in one role, then if a redirect is needed, make the decision in the offseason and go from there.

Mejia has an explosive, talented arm that shouldn’t be fooled with. They were burned once, but could they survive another Mejia injury?

May 25

Jenrry Mejia Promoted To Triple-A Buffalo

During last night’s Mets telecast on SNY, general manager Sandy Alderson announced that RHP Jenrry Mejia will be promoted from Binghamton to Triple-A Buffalo today.

Mejia made his fourth start of the season pitching for the B-Mets yesterday and went five innings against the New Britain Rock Cats, giving up four runs (all earned) on five hits, with five strikeouts and three walks. He threw 75 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Terry Collins had previously said that Mejia could join the big-league club and pitch out of the bullpen in relief at some point this season. Alderson echoed those sentiments and said it’s possible Mejia could join the Mets bullpen later this season.

Mejia is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in four rehab starts between Single-A and Double-A this month.

Man, it’s really getting crowded in Buffalo… But it looks like the top three starters for the Bisons will now be Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and now Jenrry Mejia. Meanwhile back in Binghamton, look for Darin Gorski to replace Mejia and get back into the rotation. At least that’s what Pete tells me…

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.