Eating Humble Pie

humble_pie.jpgWith the halfway point past us, and the All-Star Break upcoming, now seems as good a time as any for yours truly to eat some humble pie.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I have some strong opinions. Unlike many other bloggers and pundits, I’m not afraid to stick my neck out and make brash statements, stern criticisms, and outlandish predictions. As a result, I’m sometimes (read: often) wrong. Also unlike many other pundits and bloggers, I’m willing to admit to my stupidity.

So today I’ll owe up to my most glaringly incorrect projection: that Mike Pelfrey would not succeed in MLB in 2008.

I stated this point so many times it became annoying to many of you — or as we old schoolers say, I “sounded like a broken record”. But from spring training until a few weeks ago, I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pelfrey would be a failure — at best inconsistent — until he a.) used an off-speed pitch; and b.) gained more experience and polish in the minor leagues. In fact I went so far as to suggest he’d never be a Major League starter, and he’d be much better off moving to the bullpen ASAP to prepare for a career as middle reliever.

Boy was I wrong!

In his last eight starts, Pelfrey has been hands-down outstanding five times, and OK to good twice. In the other start, he was so-so — put pitched well enough to notch a win. After starting the season 2-5, Pelf has won his last five decisions, and pitched well enough to win at least three others. Whereas in the past he’d follow up an encouraging start with three poor ones, he’s now strung together eight consecutive impressive outings — plenty for me to prove he’s legit.

Something changed with Pelfrey about a month ago. Interestingly, the Kafkaesque transformation occurred about the same time that Pedro Martinez returned to the club. Out of nowhere, Big Pelf had confidence in his fastball and in himself; he started throwing inside; he didn’t play around much with that flat slider; he set up his four-seamer with his two-seamer, and vice-versa. Most importantly, he began challenging hitters and throwing strikes. Now, with Rick Peterson gone and Dan Warthen in charge, Pelfrey is starting to work his old overhand curve back into his repertoire. The rest of the NL better be shaking in their boots over that revelation, because if Pelf can dominate hitters WITHOUT changing speeds, what’s going to happen when he starts mixing in a knee-buckling curve? The first Mets no-hitter is not out of the question.

Go ahead, serve up a big fat slice of humble pie … I’m happy to eat it.

Humble Pie: Honorable Mention

Another pitcher with whom I had extreme criticism for was Scott Schoeneweis. At times I was downright nasty in my feelings for his performances. However, the Show has proven to be more than useful in varied roles out of the bullpen, sporting a 2.88 ERA. I still think he allows too many inherited baserunners to score, but he’s been much more effective than I ever imagined. Great to see, since from all accounts Scho is a likable, good guy and popular teammate — and a Jersey native.

Serve me up a second slice of humble pie, I deserve it and again, I’m happy to devour it.

Humble Pie: Future

I would LOVE to eat my next slice of humble pie in honor of Carlos Delgado. I really would. There was a time that I thought the world of Delgado, and I’d like to feel that way again. To his credit, he’s been hustling here and there over the last two months, and has gotten his uniform dirty on at least two occasions. Keep that up, keep hitting homers, and start acting like the leader the Mets need you to be, and I’ll be happy to stuff another slice in my big mouth.

To be continued (let’s hope) …

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. Timo July 9, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I’m glad to see you were able to post everyday during your mini vacation. I really enjoy your blogs. Also, i didn’t know you liked pie, i thought you were a cake person.

    Mets are finally playing well, so i think we should sell high. Get rid of the fat! Plan for the future.

    Later, Timo

  2. joe July 9, 2008 at 9:30 am
    Timo, I hate cake, but thanks for the kind words. Posting is difficult when you have to steal a wireless connection from the neighbor, and it only “holds” for 30 seconds at a time. But we give maximum effort here at MetsToday.

    Sell high???? The Mets are a game and a half out of first !

  3. RockStar78 July 9, 2008 at 11:00 am
    I was calling for Pelfrey to start going back to what made him successful in college for over a year. It bugged me when everyone was so worked up about his inability to throw offspeed pitches for strikes. It almost seemed to consume him as well, as he was focusing too much on that and ignoring his bread and butter. I’m glad he’s back to doing what he’s done his whole life, and that’s throw fastballs.
  4. Micalpalyn July 9, 2008 at 2:28 pm
    You can reference what i said before better than i can. I admit to having been frustrated early in the season, but i do believe i said earlier that most young pitchers take about 3 yrs to figure ‘it’ out. Be it pitching or the ML

    I think Pel turned a page before Peterson and Willie were ousted, but there has been no regression (as in the past) , also the mixing in off that oft well reviewed curve (prior to the draft) is overdue.

    Interesting: Willie often spoke of his starters working deeper into games. With Warthen and his approach (using what god gave you) and emphasis on changing speeds both Pel and Ollie have been doing that (especially lately). To some extent even santana is pitching better (metsblog: 2.45 ERA his last 6 starts).

    bottom line we are all happy for Pel.

  5. JIMMYJ723 July 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm
    Joe, I’ll take a slice of that humble pie. I figured there was no way Heilman would turn his season around. At times I wondered if he was blowing games on purpose, to get a chance to start someplace else. It still scares me everytime he goes out there but hopefully he’ll continue to prove me wrong every time.
  6. Timo July 10, 2008 at 8:50 am
    Selling high! Right now we are not getting the Wild Card. It’s going to a central team. Phillies were 12-14 last month & 5-4 in July. The Mets are 7-2 in July. 13-14 in June. We had a much better record than 5 teams (SF, SD, Tex, Col, Sea) which we played, 2 were in dead last in their divisons and we would only go 500. Philly only played 3 teams (Cin, Atl, Tex) in June which they had a much better records against, so going 500 wasn’t bad. We had the same record as the Phillies last month and they haven’t gotten hot yet. The Philly aren’t playing well and will soon come alive. When that happens the Mets will be 10 games out of 1st and no chance @ anything. They will be playing golf during the post season. I may even see a few of them on the beach during my honeymoon in Aruba. If we still think we are in it, the Mets will probably pay for some old/high priced player who will eat up more money and get us no where. I’d rather trade some players (Beltran, Delgado, Pedro, Easley, Marlon, Schoeneweis, Wagner, etc) for some prospects. We can pay Delgado and Pedro’s salary until the end of the year in the trade. We were going to do that anyway. Someone will want them and we can rebuilt our farm system. At the rate in which the Mets are going, we will not be able to go to any games because the ticket prices will be sky high.
  7. isuzudude July 10, 2008 at 9:29 am
    wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning
  8. JIMMYJ723 July 10, 2008 at 10:49 am
    Timo. It’s ok buddy. Just keep telling yourself Jim Douquette and Steve Phillips are no longer here.