Oct 30

2012 Mets Player Review: Situational Right-handers Manny Acosta And Ramon Ramirez

 MANNY ACOSTA, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s priority last winter was bolstering his bullpen, something by his own admission he wasn’t able to do. Building a bullpen entails a closer, set-up man, situational relievers, and if luxury provides, a long man. The Mets were woefully thin in most of those areas and entered the season hoping for something from Manny Acosta, who gave them 44 appearances in 2011, and Ramon Ramirez, who came to the Mets with Andres Torres in the Angel Pagan trade. Both are situational right-handers expected to be the bridge to the set-up relievers and closer. Acosta throws a fastball in the mid-90s and decent curve. He averages a strikeout an inning, which is the kind of pitcher you want in a jam with runners on and a tough right-handed hitter such as Mike Zimmerman or Matt Holliday coming to the plate. However, like a lot of pitchers with a power arm, Acosta is prone to streaks of wildness. Acosta’s career has not been one of consistency, so there was a bad-Acosta the Mets knew was possible. As for Ramirez, he also has a plus fastball. Ramirez logged 68.2 innings in 66 games for the 2011 Giants, so the Mets knew they were getting a workhorse. They also knew they weren’t getting a dominant reliever.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: The Mets received pretty much what they expected from Acosta and Ramirez. They got the innings they needed, although they weren’t necessarily quality innings. Acosta started so slowly that he was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo as the result of a gagging 11.86 ERA over his first 19 appearances. Acosta worked out his mechanical issues in the minors concerning his release point and in the second half batters only hit .148 off him and he cut his ERA down by almost half. Ramirez threw 63.2 innings in 58 appearances, and wasn’t effective as he put on 93 runners in that span. He only struck out 52, so we’re not talking a power arm. The Mets’ bullpen was woefully inadequate this summer and these two were a part of the problem.

LOOKING AT 2013: Of the two, Acosta is the one most likely to return next summer. Acosta made $875,000 last season and is eligible for salary arbitration. Considering how strong Acosta was at the end, they could offer arbitration and still take the hit if they were to lose the case. Ramirez made $2.65 million in 2012 and will become a free agent. He did not have the season worthy of bringing him back and can find comparable production at a lower cost elsewhere.

Oct 26

2012 Mets Player Review: Jenrry Mejia And Other Spot Starters

 

JENRRY MEJIA, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The Mets knew they had pitching issues entering spring training, so by definition they expected a need for emergency starters. They opened the season with Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee as their rotation. Santana and Niese were coming off injuries, and nobody knew what to expect from Pelfrey and Gee. Veteran Chris Young was signed for the inevitable insurance and closed the season in the rotation. The Mets forecasted starts for Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia, but most likely as September call-ups. The Mets figured they had Miguel Batista, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia to make emergency starts in the event of injuries.

WHAT THEY GOT: Injuries claimed Pelfrey, Santana and Gee, and before it was over eight other pitchers started 58 games for the Mets. That’s roughly a third of their games. That, as much as any other statistic, explains this season. Young, who was signed in March, made 20 starts after recovering from shoulder surgery. He proved to be a reliable innings eater, so much, in fact, that it might earn him a contract elsewhere. Veterans who gobble up innings are always valuable. Harvey was so impressive in his shot that he’s going into next season in the rotation. For those not yet earmarked for a roster spot next season, Jeremy Hefner started 13 games, followed by Batista (5), Collin McHugh (4), Mejia (3), Chris Schwinden (2) and Familia (1). McHugh and Hefner had their moments, both good and bad, but made no lasting impression either way. The most puzzling is Mejia, who was coming off surgery. Although his numbers are better as a starter, the Mets still don’t have a long-term plan for him as there are factions in the organization who believe he’s better suited coming out of the bullpen. The Mets like Familia’s potential, but he was hit hard when he got the ball. McHugh, Hefner and Schwinden did nothing to separate themselves from the pack and Batista was what they expected, a long-man stop-gap.

 

LOOKING AT 2013: There is a need for Young, but he’s low on their priorities, even if the Mets don’t tender Pelfrey. Harvey is in the rotation, but ten starts isn’t a big window, so who wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a setback? McHugh, Hefner and Schwinden will probably open the season in the minor leagues and Batista could again be in the bullpen. Familia will be in the minors. The biggest question is Mejia’s role. The Mets have confused him by shuttling him between roles. For his own good and that of the team, the Mets should choose a role and stay that course until he proves incapable. Once a highly-touted prospect, Mejia seems to be regressing.

Oct 20

2012 Mets Player Review: Mike Pelfrey

MIKE PELFREY, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: After falling far short of the expectations of a No. 1 draft choice in 2005 – the ninth overall selection – Mike Pelfrey had what was thought to be a breakout year in 2010 when he went 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA and career high 204 innings. Pelfrey did not have dominating numbers, but clearly made progressions in his approach to pitching that suggested he might become the pitcher the Mets hoped. Pelfrey finally was pitching with poise and guile. There was an undeniable composure he never displayed before and his pitch selection was far better. Hitters could no longer sit on his fastball because he was getting his secondary pitches over in fastball counts. Could Pelfrey finally become an ace? Well, no. Pelfrey regressed in 2011 going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA. Hitters ripped him at a .286 clip with a .344 on-base percentage and crushed 21 homers. With two back-to-back polar opposite seasons, the Mets didn’t know what to expect from him for the $5.6 million they would pay.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Pelfrey started fast this year with a 2.29 ERA in three starts and resembled his 2010 performance. He pitched with composure in that window and the thought was perhaps he would take the next step. However, Pelfrey sustained an elbow injury and underwent Tommy John surgery that finished his season. Would it also finish his Mets’ career?

LOOKING AT 2013: The cost conscious Mets, despite holes in their rotation, aren’t expected to tender Pelfrey a contract this December, even if they were to offer the maximum 20 percent cut from his $5.687 million contract. Many pitchers have rebounded from Tommy John surgery, so even if the Mets don’t bring him back there will be interest as there is no shortage of teams with pitching needs. If the Mets think they can cut him loose and bring him back at a discount, they should think again because at 28, he’s young enough to where his career isn’t over. Pelfrey is a career 50-54 with a 4.36 ERA and .284 batting average against him. Of all the statistics on his resume, his age is the one most likely to cause the Mets to take a flier on him again. Considering the potential holes in the Mets’ rotation and bullpen and inevitable need for pitching, he might be worth the gamble. If healthy, he could give the Mets close to 200 innings. With Johan Santana gone after 2013, the Mets will need a starter and there are no guarantees from Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler or Jenrry Mejia. The idea has also been floated of putting Pelfrey in the bullpen with potential of eventually becoming the closer.

NEXT: Matt Harvey

Oct 19

2012 Mets Player Review: Chris Young

                                                              CHRIS YOUNG, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: With veteran Chris Young there was first a hope before any expectations. Signed as a stop gap starter to begin with prior to the 2011 season, Young pitched effectively at first before injuring his shoulder. In four starts he was 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA, giving the Mets six innings a start. Although an injury risk, when sound he was a veteran presence who pitched with composure and guile an a sharp curveball. He could pump up his fastball if needed, but wouldn’t overpower hitters for any length of time. Young was coming off a shoulder surgery as severe, if not moreso, than Johan Santana’s. The Mets didn’t when he’d be ready when they signed him to a minor league deal in late March. He was signed as a reward for a good April in 2011, his desire to remain with the organization, and the inevitability there would be breakdowns in the rotation. After all, there always is. If Young could pitch, they were hoping for the same calming presence whenever that time came.

 

2012 SEASON REVIEW: That’s exactly what the Mets got when they purchased his contract in June. As expected, there were health cracks in the rotation when Mike Pelfrey went down early, Santana became ineffective following his 134-pitch no-hitter, and Dillon Gee went down with numbness in his arm. A breakdown from Young never happened and he gave the Mets 20 starts. Some were solid, others not so much, but he did reach an innings incentive in his contract which the club probably didn’t expect. Young finished at 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, but he pitched better than his numbers and was often frustrated with a lack of run support and porous bullpen evidenced by seven no-decision. Realistically he could have finished at 7-7, which is acceptable for a No. 5 starter who made 20 starts.

 

LOOKING AT 2013: As of now, there isn’t a clear spot in the rotation for Young, with presumably Santana and Dillon Gee – both coming off injuries – R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey ahead of him. Then again, that rotation is a house of cards. What if Santana and Gee aren’t ready? What if the Mets can’t extend Dickey’s contract and they trade him? What if Harvey has a setback? All of those things are possible and would leave the Mets with gaping holes in their rotation. So, if not Young, the Mets would need a veteran like him to fill the emergency void. There’s a sense of familiarity with Young, and last year he earned a reasonable $1.1 million salary. The Mets would be lucky to get 115 innings for that price somewhere else in the market. Young’s starts and innings could induce a contending team with a rotation hole to give him a shot as he proved his durability.

 

NEXT: Mike Pelfrey

Oct 18

2012 Mets Player Review: Dillon Gee

DILLON GEE, RHP


 
 
PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Dillon Gee made a strong first impression with the Mets as a 2010 September call-up when their rotation was in tatters. He made five starts and gave the Mets at least six innings in each and didn’t up more than three earned runs in any. His 2.18 ERA and ability to keep his composure caught the Mets’ eye. When they were beset by injuries in 2011, Gee was brought up and won his first seven decisions and eight of nine. Gee finished 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA to earn himself a spot in the 2012 rotation. He showed guile and grit and an ability to challenge hitters, more with command and movement on his pitches than overpowering stuff. While there was a school of thought 2011 might have been a fluke and to expect a regression, there was also one that suggested he might be the real thing and could build on his initial success as the No. 5 starter. It was the latter belief, in part, as to why the Mets didn’t aggressively pursue and middle-tier veteran starter that offseason.
 
2012 SEASON REVIEW: Gee made 17 starts this year, 10 fewer than in 2011 before he was shut down in July. After complaining of numbness and a lack of strength in his arm, he underwent season-ending surgery to replace artery damage in his shoulder.  Gee struggled out of the gate and wasn’t pitching at his 2011 form when he was injured. He was 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.25 WHIP before he called it a season. On the positive side, he had a 97-29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Gee worked at least into the seventh in nine starts. The Mets gave him three or fewer runs in nine starts, so his record was attributable in large part because of a lack of run support, a malady that struck the whole staff.
 
LOOKING AT 2013: The surgery was deemed successful, but we won’t know whether his shoulder is at full strength until he begins throwing. Assuming he’s physically able, Gee should enter spring training as the No. 5 starter. That is, of course, assuming the best for Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, and perhaps the long-shot possibility of Mike Pelfrey being tendered a contract. He would likely be slotted behind hot prospect Matt Harvey. There’s a lot to like in how Gee challenges his hitter and his command. This is a pitcher with more to learn, but appears to be smart and someone who could develop into a reliable starter. If 2010 wasn’t a fluke, the Mets would take 13 victories in a heartbeat.
NEXT: Chris Young