Jun 02

Sorting out the Mets’ bullpen.

Francisco Rodriguez got out of it last night, but it got a little dicey in the end. That’s OK, because when it’s anybody else things get a lot dicey.

One of the best things about Mike Pelfrey’s eight-inning gem is it kept Jerry Manuel from going to his combustible bullpen. The bullpen, which started so well in April, has strained from overuse and evolved into a club concern.

RODRIGUEZ: Only sure thing in pen.

Here we are, June, and the Mets are still trying to find and define roles for their relievers, something that should have been done in March. However, because of ineffectiveness and injury, things change.

For one, Hisanori Takahashi, so effective early is not longer in the pen after being thrust into the rotation. How long Takahashi stays there is anybody’s guess. After two strong starts, Takahashi was raked by the Padres Monday night.

Now in the pen, taking up a spot, is Oliver Perez, now the human white flag in that he will come into the game when it is a lost cause or there are no other options, such as a game going long into extra innings.

The concern now is building a strong bridge to Rodriguez.

Before popping his hamstring, Ryota Igarashi was making claims to be the set-up man, and that’s what Manuel hoped when he came off the disabled list just under two weeks ago.
Igarashi has been awful since coming back, with the bottom possibly being reached Monday night when he gave up six runs on four hits and two walks in a mere one-third of an inning.

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May 24

May 24.10: Mejia to stay in pen.

Until they change their minds again, the Mets have made a decision – hopefully definitive for at least the remainder of the season – on Jenrry Mejia.

The prospect with the million-dollar arm will remain in the bullpen.

Manager Jerry Manuel confirmed last night what many surmised after Manny Acosta was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo instead of Mejia to make room for Ryota Igarashi’s return from the disabled list.

“You have a young man who has a tremendous arm, tremendous upside,’’ Manuel said. “If you take what he gives you in small bits, it’s very serviceable, even at the big league level.’’

Several things went into the decision, notably when Mejia started altering his delivery Thursday in Washington. Altered deliveries lead to arm problems and the Mets want to nip possibility early.

During the series with the Nationals, Manuel had suggested Mejia was likely to be the one to go to the minor leagues to make room for Igarashi.

Starting might still be in Mejia’s future, but not for now, and you would be correct if you thought this move had something to do with Manuel’s immediate job future.

“If we wanted to have him start, he could start in the winter somewhere,’’ Manuel said. “But here, if he’s serviceable and if he’s usable, then I’d like to have him. It’s probably selfish on my part, but that’s how I feel.’’

With Igarashi back, the plan is for him and Feliciano to work the eighth and Mejia to work the seventh. Watching Mejia blow away Mark Teixeira Saturday night convinced Manuel.

“Basically, that was the plan all along,’’ Manuel said. “We felt that Igarashi could handle the eighth, and we needed someone to handle the seventh. I wanted to see Mejia pitch in this environment and see how he responded to it, and he did real well.’’

I only hope the Mets stick with this decision and not waver. To bounce him from role to role at 20 could be harmful to his development.

May 17

May 17.10: Does the Mejia yo-yo begin?

Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Mets are toying with the idea of fixing their damaged rotation with Jenrry Mejia. There is now talk of sending Mejia to the minors to stretch him out in preparation of making him a starter.

The rotation is where the Mets wanted Mejia all along, but instead of starting him in the minors they opted to use him in a variety of roles out of the bullpen on the major league level. It only shows they didn’t have a real plan.

I don’t like the idea of bouncing Mejia around and wonder what impact it could have on his development. He seems to be handling things well in his present role and believe they would be better off just keeping him here and getting him ready for the rotation next spring.

We all saw how they rushed Bobby Parnell. Maybe Parnell wasn’t going to make it all along, but there’s no telling how the change of roles hindered his development. I know, I know, you’re going to say Parnell is terrible, but would he be so bad if they had a plan and stuck with it?

We really don’t know, and I’d hate to see the same mistakes made with Mejia.

May 16

May 16.10: Chat Room, Game #38 at Marlins: Juggling to stop a slide.

It is Oliver Perez’s right – via collective bargaining – to refuse a demotion to the minor leagues. That doesn’t mean he’s any less selfish in refusing.

“I don’t like going to the bullpen,’’ said Perez. “But, I think that’s what’s best for the team.’’

What nonsense.

What’s best for the Mets is the minor leagues, because that’s where he’ll get the most consistent work, and therefore, have the best chance to get himself righted.

However, they can’t make him go. And, despite it being his right, it’s a selfish decision because he’s wasting a roster spot better left for somebody else. Should the Mets decide to bring up somebody from the minors to start, somebody would have to be optioned out. A possible option is Jenrry Mejia to develop him as a starter.

Another aspect of this is it might force them to use Hisanori Takahashi, which weakens the bullpen. A straight change of roles between Takahashi and Perez is possible, but the former pitches when the games are in the balance. The Mets would only want to use Perez in games out of control.

A trade would have been nice, but let’s face it, any trade would either entail the Mets paying a bulk of the balance of his due salary, or an exchange of bad contracts. The guy is a power pitcher who can no longer bring it; he’s not going to net much in return.

Another shake-up with the Mets is overdue, and that’s returning Jose Reyes to the leadoff spot. Reyes’ comment, that it’s like returning home, indicated he was never on-board with this.

It also means Jerry Manuel, however well intentioned, didn’t know Reyes’ temperature on this and that’s not good managing.

A manager has to know how to put players in the situations where they are most apt to be successful and Manuel has wasted Reyes for the better part of a month.

The Mets close their series in Florida today with Jon Niese on the mound in the hope of stopping the losing streak at four games.

Here’s today’s line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Chris Carter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Angel Pagan, CF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

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Apr 15

April 15.10: About Last Night: Mejia not ready for primetime.

If one learns of themselves through adversity, then maybe the Mets learned last night Jenrry Mejia might not be ready for primetime.

Last night’s main storyline emerged from the rubble of John Maine’s performance the previous night which prompted the question: If not Maine, then who?

Of course, Mejia’s name surfaced, but he’s not sufficiently stretched out to be the starter some in the organization want him to be. Jerry Manuel, however, wants him in the major leagues now as a reliever.

But, he’s been used in mop-up, low pressure situation because he’s not ready. Well, that was until last night. Enter Mejia in the tenth inning. Exit Chris Iannetta’s drive for from the park for a game-winning homer.

Mejia has a world of talent, but he’s not ready for the major leagues in primetime. The organization is divided on his role. Some, read Omar Minaya, want him at the beginning of the game. Manuel wants him in the late innings.

But, if he’s here, he shouldn’t be protected. He should be ready to pitch, but last night showed there are questions.

That’s what I took out of last night: The indecision over Mejia.