Apr 02

Parnell sharp; Santana gets Opening nod.

Bobby Parnell, who had been uninspiring during his tenure with the Mets, has been scintillating this spring, enough where they could consider opening the season with him in the closer role if Frank Francisco is placed on the disabled list with a sore left knee.

PARNELL: Has had excellent spring.

While Parnell was throwing three scoreless innings at Atlanta in a spot start – because the Mets didn’t want Jon Niese to face the same team he’ll pitch against Sunday – Francisco was getting an MRI.

“Early in camp I felt a little sore in there and it went away,’’ Francisco told reporters today. “In the last three days, I felt soreness in there again, but that’s it. We’re going to take care of that. I did my workout and everything, and it felt fine, but they’re going to take a look at it.’’

 A MRI, followed by manager Terry Collins saying he was concerned about Francisco’s knee can’t be a good omen for the injury ravaged Mets.

Francisco, a Toronto castoff, was signed to a two-year, $12-million contract in the offseason. The Mets also signed another Blue Jays’ reliever, Jon Rauch, but he’s been ineffective this spring with a 7.94 ERA. Parnell, who struggled in the closer role last September, hasn’t given up a run in 12 1/3 innings during spring training.

Despite his success, I’m not so sure moving Parnell to the closer role is the way to go if Francisco’s injury is deemed short term. The Mets have bounced Parnell around in the past and he has not responded to the changing roles. Because he’s been pitching well I’d be reluctant to tinker with him.

I would reconsider that position if Francisco’s injury is determined to be long term.

Meanwhile, the Mets finally announced Johan Santana will be the Opening Day starter Thursday against the Braves. Santana would be followed in the rotation by R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese.

 

Nov 22

To think the Mets wanted Nathan.

It certainly was eye-opening to read about what the Texas Rangers gave closer Joe Nathan, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. At 37, Nathan will get a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.

Is he worth it?

Apparently he is to the Texas Rangers, who’ll be writing the checks, and that’s all that really matters. If Nathan stays healthy and returns close to form, and Netfali Feliz makes the transition to the rotation, it would be like making two deals.

Feliz is a hard thrower, and in theory moving him to the rotation is similar to what the Mets wanted to do with Bobby Parnell. But, Parnell had his issues, such as an inability to master his secondary pitches and stretches where he loses his command.

I believe it is easier to find a reliable closer than it is a dominant starter, so I would not be adverse to giving Parnell another shot at the rotation if he gets down his secondary pitches, but there’s been no indication he’s heading in that direction.

The most shocking thing about the Nathan signing was the Mets were supposedly injured. There’s no way Sandy Alderson would have approached what the Rangers gave him, and if he believes he had a chance to sign Nathan then he’s underestimated the market.

The Phillies acquired Ty Wiggington for a player to be named later. Surely, the Mets could have matched that price. The Phillies also signed Jonathan Papelbon, who fled the sinking Red Sox. Wiggington won’t off-set the loss of Ryan Howard, but at least the Phillies are doing something.

So are the Nationals, who are talking with Mark Buehrle, and expect to be active this winter. Buehrle could be an effective innings eater, but is completely out of the Mets’ price range.

Reportedly, the Nationals are also interested in Jose Reyes, although there’s been no offter there. Whatever additions the Nationals make, it won’t be enough to catch Philadelphia and Atlanta, but I don’t think that’s the point with them.

Do you remember when Fred Wilpon once said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September?  That’s the point, especially in a front-runner oriented city such as Washington. If the Nationals play interesting ball deep into the summer and are competitive, people will come out to the park and that’s the issue.

Sure, winning would be nice, but winning is also expensive. Just being competitive – good but not too good – is the way to go for most teams because it keeps the interest up.

Detroit and Milwaukee, reportedly, also are interested in Reyes, but there’s nothing hot with either of those teams now. The strongest interest is coming from Miami, but things will get more active at the winter meetings as the new collective bargaining agreement brought no significant changes that would deter free-agent signings and teams making their budgets.

Nov 11

2011 Player Review: Jason Isringhausen

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Jason Isringhausen. Tomorrow: Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Sunday: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, RP

THE SKINNY: It was good story at the time when the Mets reached into their past to sign reliever Jason Isringhausen. Pushing 40 and with a tattered bullpen, Isringhausen represented a no-risk proposition. Isringhausen wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, but accepted an extended spring training assignment and within several weeks the inevitable pen breakdown occurred and he was back. Isringhausen was effective for the most part, and eventually assumed the closer role after Francisco Rodriguez was traded and earned seven saves to reach the 300 milestone. However, Isringhausen struggled and eventually broke down and ended the season on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: Isringhausen showed he still knew how to pitch and when he needed it was able to pump up his fastball. … His experience and composure is beneficial to a young and inexperienced bullpen.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He doesn’t make the Mets any younger and the odds are in favor of physical problems. …. The Mets are in a rebuilding mode and he was take an opportunity away from somebody else.

JOHN’S TAKE: If there’s a younger option go with him, but is there? There is value in his experience and leadership, and if they Mets are playing well he could be important to the bullpen.

I’d be willing to invite him to spring training with the provision he could leave as a free agent should an opportunity arise elsewhere. That’s a no-lose situation. Should he make the team and prove healthy and productive, he could be a trade chip in July.
While there exist numerous other options for older, stopgap relievers, Isringhausen is a proven commodity to the Mets, who don’t have a closer, much less a set-up man.

JOE’S TAKE: Call me sentimental, but if Isringhausen is healthy and wants to forgo his retirement for another season, I would bring him back. It’s not like we can’t use the help or experience in the bullpen anyway. Izzy’s 1.28 WHIP was among the best in the Mets bullpen and even topped Parnell’s 1.47 WHIP by a considerable margin. He also didn’t implode whenever he emerged from those bullpen gates in the ninth inning like Parnell did – an important fact to consider.

I see nothing wrong with giving him the same kind of deal he received last season. Remember, Sandy Alderson specifically said on more than one occasion that he didn’t trade Izzy, despite some offers for him, because he was a great influence on the younger relievers. So what’s changed? He could still assume that role and at the same time be one of the more effective relievers out of the Mets bullpen once again in 2012.

Jason Isringhausen… You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right… Come on down…

Sep 08

Wouldn’t mind seeing Izzy back.

Jason Isringhausen told ESPN he’d like to pitch next year, and I’m all for giving him a one-year deal. Nothing longer. Isringhausen pitched well enough to warrant attention from teams looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, but I don’t see anybody, the Mets included, signing him strictly as a closer.

IZZY: A case for bringing him back.

However, he showed the capability of getting the job done when he had to. Isringhausen saved seven games after Francisco Rodriguez was traded, and overall showed his fastball still has some life with 44 strikeouts in 46 innings.

The Mets are hoping Bobby Parnell will win the job, but he’s far from a certainty. There’s nobody else that jumps out, either. I don’t believe Isringhausen has enough left in the tank to be a fulltime closer, but he’s a great influence to have in what figures to be a young, and likely, inexperienced bullpen, next season. Parnell could do a lot worse than having Isringhausen around as his mentor. So could most everybody else in what has arguably been one of the Mets’ signature weaknesses this season.

The Mets exceeded expectations this year and should take another step in 2012. Isringhausen could get some attention from contenders, but his biggest influence still could come in Flushing. I am all for giving young guys a shot, but I’m against cutting loose veterans who still have something to offer. It’s not as if the Mets’ bullpen is loaded with fireballing, young arms with pinpoint control.

The bullpen can be a chatty place, and relief pitching is one position on a team most ripe for a younger player soaking up information regarding pitch selection, location, how to work to various hitters, and to retain one’s composure.

The man must know something with 300 career saves. Conversely, Parnell doesn’t even have 180 career innings pitched.

 

 

 

 

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.