Jul 08

Mets’ Chemistry Will Keep Bobby Parnell Out Of Closer Role — For Now

The Mets spent a good bit of time speaking of team chemistry as for a primary reason why they have played so well in the first half. You’ll hear more about that today, and deservedly so.

PARNELL: Has been terrific.

It is for that reason why Bobby Parnell – who has been pitching lights out lately – will relinquish the closer role once Frank Francisco is able to come off the disabled list. For the same reason why Jason Bay went back to left when he last came off the DL, is the same reason why Parnell will stop working the ninth – chemistry.

The Mets have been a tranquil bunch the first three months – with their aggressiveness limited to the field – and Terry Collins won’t mess with that state. The Mets signed Francisco to be their closer, and as long as he’s physically able, Collins is apt to keep it that way.

The thing that could alter that is Francisco’s injury lingering, but reports have him coming back shortly after the break.

Parnell has pitched well in the role, well enough to stay there and well enough to prove he can do the job, but chemistry is a fragile thing and Collins won’t tamper with it now.

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.”

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…