He Told You So

Nelson Figueroa of the New York MetsIt looks like Pedro Martinez may be placed on the 15-day DL any minute now, though it may not be as bad as we feared.

So now we’ll assume the Mets will promote Nelson Figueroa to fill the fifth starter role — which is fine with me.

At this time I feel it absolutely necessary to regurgitate a sentence written by me at the start of spring training (I thought was kind of witty at the time):

“No one has any idea why Cazavos, Figueroa, and Field are in camp, but I suspect they really weren’t invited but rather were inspired by the movie Wedding Crashers.”

Well, MetsToday reader hdarvick — who I suspect could possibly be Nelson Figueroa himself — set my a$$ straight with this retort:

# hdarvick Says:
February 20th, 2008 at 12:12 pm e

NELSON FIGUEROA, drafted by the Mets out of Brandeis University in 1995, was invited because he pitched 10 complete games for Chihuahua, 8-6, 3.87 ERA, (24.5 games out of first) in the 2007 Mexican Triple A League, then went to Taiwan where he went 4-0 and then won games 1, 4, and 7 in the 2007 China World Series in October and was voted MVP. He pitched the only game Taiwan won in the 4-game Konami Cup Asia Series in the Tokyo Dome in November. In the Dominican Winter League, he won two games in the playoffs, including the championship game for Aguilas Cibaenas on January 25, 2008, compiling a 4-0 record in the series (4 starts) with a 1.45 ERA, 31 innings pitched, 24 hits, 33 strikeouts, 7 walks. 1.00 WHIP. He pitched the only complete game in the Dominican “Round-Robin” championship series. He had to pitch for Yaquis of Mexico in the Caribe World Series earlier this month (February 2008), not for Aguilas, because he had pitched in the regular season for Mexico. His record was 1-0, 11 innings pitched (9.1 in one game, 1.2 in relief in the other), 0.83 ERA, and was voted the Caribe Series MVP over players like Miguel Tejada, Tony Pena Jr. and Nelson Cruz. THAT’S WHY HE WAS INVITED and why he’ll be at Shea in 2008.

Kudos to hdarvick — whoever you are — for your foresight. I am happy to eat a large piece of humble pie, while rooting for Figgy to finally make his mark in the Majors.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 April 2, 2008 at 12:44 pm
    Need a hug, Joe?

    If it’s any consolation, I thought your Wedding Crashers reference was wonderful at the time — and really gave Figgy no shot to make the club out of ST.

    He pitched well, though….and looks like he’ll probably get his chance with Petey going down.

    April 2, 2008

    Pedro’s injury opens door for Figueroa
    Nelson Figueroa is expected to replace Pedro Martinez on the roster. It will be the Brooklyn-born Figueroa’s first major-league appearance since October 2004 labrum surgery after making 10 appearances with the Pirates that season.

    After getting cut from Mariners minor-league camp at the end of spring training last year, Figueroa spent mid-April through July 2007 with Chihuahua, and earned the win in the Mexican League’s All-Star Game. He then joined the Uni-President Lions, and was named MVP of the Taiwan Series after becoming the first pitcher ever to win three games. After picking up a victory in the Asia Cup against China, he spent five days in the United States, then returned to Mexico to pitch in the winter league for Hermosillo. When that team fell a game shy of the postseason, he joined Aguilas in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 3, and set a round-robin tournament record in his debut with a 13-strikeout performance against Estrellas.

    He caught Mets special assistant Ramon Pena’s eye while being named the Dominican Series MVP.

    Figueroa, however, wasn’t done. He pitched against Licey in the Caribbean Series, for Mexico. He tossed 9 1/3 innings and allowed just one run and got a no-decision in that start, but Figueroa won in relief in their second meeting. He was the fans’ choice as Caribbean Series MVP.

    Said Figueroa: “It’s pretty funny – all around the world but the United States I’m a pretty hot commodity and I’m a big-game pitcher. You get back to the States and you read the blogs and ‘he’s just a mediocre guy.’ It’s all about opportunity. … The dream was always to play baseball. I had my shoulder surgery. I was in the big leagues when I had it, and I got released. I was a forgotten person. One year removed from the game, I’d call around and people would have to ask again who I was. They didn’t know anything about me. I felt like I was a guy who could compete and help a team out in a lot of different ways. And when I had the opportunity such as with Philadelphia as a starter, I put up good numbers. I always felt like I wasn’t going to go out that way if I could pitch anywhere in the world.

    “Mike Morgan told me when I was younger, ‘Have arm, will travel.’ And I took that to heart, wherever I had the opportunity to prove I was healthy again. There were always going to be questions about my health. There were always going to be questions about me being a 30th-round draft pick and about my size. There have always been questions about what I can and can’t do. The only thing I can do is what you allow me to do. If you give me the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues, I’m a big-league pitcher. If you keep me stuck in Triple-A, I have no control over that, but my numbers speak for themselves in my minor-league career.”


  2. isuzudude April 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm
    I also chimed in at the time and thought it would be a longshot to get Figueroa on the roster at any time in 2008, let alone the first week of the season. Hook me up with some of those fortune cookies, hdarvick…

    Hey Joe – got a question for ya. I know the Cardinals have been trying it for a few years now, but now it seems as though the Brewers are implementing it as well. Today in their game against the Cubs, Milwaukee has the pitcher hitting in the 8-spot, with the light-hitting Jason Kendall batting 9th. What’s your take on this philosophy, and do you think the Mets should be the next team to ride the wave?

  3. joe April 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm
    Interesting question, ‘dude. IMHO, it’s sheer and utter stupidity to bat the pitcher anywhere other than 9th, unless that pitcher’s name is Babe Ruth.

    No one can seem to get a straight, logical answer out of LaRussa for this “strategy”. Maybe he was a Pirates fan in the late 70s, when they had pitchers who could rake, like Don Robinson and Rick Rhoden.

    The late Charley Lau once said that the batting lineup should start with your best hitter and then descend to your worst, because then your best hitters will have the most opportunities to do damage. Personally I think that’s a much better “out of the box” idea than this pitcher batting eighth nonsense.

  4. murph April 3, 2008 at 2:33 am
    kudos to ‘hdarvick’, if that is your real name.

    Mr. Figueroa has the makings to become a NY fan favorite:
    Born in Brooklyn. Graduated from Lincoln HS.
    Originally drafted by the Mets in 1995
    in the 30th round (833rd overall).
    Underdog, under-sized, under-rated.
    Recovered from torn rotator cuff, out of MLB for 3 years.
    Played in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Taiwan.
    Returns to MLB as a spring training non-roster invitee,
    making the team in 2008 against all odds.

    And then performing well in his Mets debut.
    If he keeps it up, NY fans will love this guy!