2009 Analysis: Elmer Dessens

elmer-dessens-pitchElmer was the glue in the Mets bullpen down the stretch — if “stretch” is what you want to call the agonizing final two months of the season.

Though he didn’t join the club until late June, Dessens managed to find his way into 28 meaningless games, and posted an impressive 1.04 WHIP over 32.2 IP. If nothing else, the 38-year-old righthander from Mexico proved that he can still reach home plate from 60 feet, 6 inches away.

But what to take away from Elmer’s performance? Hard to say, since many of the games he entered were blowouts, and he rarely pitched under duress. Further, his surprisingly good numbers could have been due to the advantage of being “unknown”; although he’s been in MLB since 1996, he pitched in only 4 games last year for the Braves (3 vs. the Nationals, 1 vs. the Mets), 17 games in 2007, and 19 games in the NL in 2006. One must wonder how well he’d pitch after the scouting reports caught up with him (interestingly, one of his worst outings this year came against the Diamondbacks — the same team that lit him up for 7 runs in a 1.1 inning start in September of 2007).

What gives Dessens a ray of hope is the same set of circumstances that pushed him to the bigs in 2009: who else is there? Yes, he’ll be a 39-year-old journeyman with a sketchy past when spring training rolls around, but the Mets don’t have a plethora of pitchers banging down the door to the big leagues. The sheer lack of depth of MLB-ready pitchers of any talent level forces the Mets to consider any and all options. That said, it can’t hurt the Mets to offer Dessens a minor-league contract for 2010, and stick him in AAA. Buffalo will need a mopup man, and the spot can go either to him or a minor league free agent that is cut loose from another organization. Depending on who becomes available this winter, it may make sense to simply keep Dessens around — sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Scary, huh?

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. Mike October 13, 2009 at 10:18 am
    I almost forgot the Mets had a team. Fortunately for me the Jets are good enough for me to forgot about the Mets most of the time, but unfortunately when they lose the Mets are not good enough to distract me from that.

    Elmer Dessens is in the majors because he is lefty and there is not enough major league caliber pitching out there. He might have a role in AAA as an injury replacement for a few weeks at a time, but he is not a key component of a winning team. Moving along…

  2. joejanish October 13, 2009 at 11:37 am
    Mike – I don’t like to nitpick, but Elmer is righthanded. But that just goes to show you how much of an impact Dessens had on the Mets — even a diehard fan couldn’t remember whether he throws righty or lefty!
  3. Mike October 13, 2009 at 11:47 am
    Wow, I feel like a fool. I actually recall thinking he was left handed and then being surprised when he wasn’t during the season. I really tuned out the Mets completely the final two months. Elmer is a guy I neither hate nor like. He is just roster filler but I’d prefer someone better, clearly.
  4. Walnutz15 October 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm
    Joe — you should send this write-up to Elmer’s family. It’s the longest piece that’s ever been written about him.

    Stick him at Triple-A in case of an emergency next year. If it’s anything more than that, then we’re likely in trouble at whatever point he makes a Big League appearance.

    I’m seriously wondering what kind of smoke and mirrors will be waved around this winter by “the powers that be” — they’ve got a ton of work to do.