Tracking the John Maine Not-So-Magical Mystery Tour

It’s been quite a whirlwind of comments swirling around John Maine — from various sources.

Originally — meaning, back in March — he claimed he was “fine”, despite poor performance and an inability to break 88 MPH. There was a point where Jerry Manuel suggested — to the media — that Maine’s spot in the rotation was in jeopardy. After a meeting between the two, Maine claimed that throwing secondary pitches ruined his velocity, and would make a mechanical tweak and go back to his style of throwing almost all fastballs.

After a few bad games, it was discovered that his LEFT arm was bothering him — as opposed to the right one, which underwent surgery and was the limb responsible for the 10 MPH drop in velocity.

A few more bad starts later, Jerry Manuel removed Maine from a game after walking the leadoff batter. The two then exchanged heated words in the dugout. Afterward, pitching coach Dan Warthen called Maine a “habitual liar”.

Maine was placed on the DL, and recently rehabbed in the minors. Despite more poor performances, Maine again claimed himself fit, and there was some buzz that he wouldn’t be interested in returning to the club as a reliever — though, he publicly stated he’d be OK with pitching out of the bullpen.

This is where things start to get weird (or, weirder) …

1. June 7: Jerry Manuel admits that Maine will be considered for the bullpen, since R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi are pitching so well.

2. June 15: Jerry Manuel states that Maine will pitch in the rotation, NOT the bullpen.

3. June 16: Jerry Manuel states that Maine could be considered for the bullpen.

2. June 18: After a lackluster rehab performance, Maine sounds clinically delusional, or at least in denial, as he blamed the umpire for his poor outing. Otherwise, though, he was healthy — according to him. He reiterates that he’ll be happy to pitch in the bullpen for the Mets if necessary.

3. June 19, AM: Jerry Manuel states that Hisanori Takahashi will not be removed from the rotation to make room for John Maine, and that Maine would not go to the bullpen. A dull thump is heard as the bus tires ride over John Maine’s body.

3. June 19, PM: Jerry Manuel informs the media that Maine “didn’t feel well” after his last start. Omar Minaya confirms this sentiment.

4. June 20: John Maine’s career is in “jeopardy”, as he will be shut down and his arm will be re-evaluated by the organization. On a side note, Dan Warthen explains that Maine could not be a reliever because his arm is not resilient enough.

So what’s next for John Maine on this mysterious tour of pain, lies, and videotape? All we know is that the situation is day-to-day. We also know that Manuel and Warthen agree that Maine is neither likable nor trustworthy. And, we know that Manuel and Warthen enjoy driving buses and hanging their dirty laundry on their front lawn. Additionally, we have the option to like Maine, and also wonder if the young man is having serious problems accepting the fact that a god-given gift has been taken away from him. It doesn’t make him a bad person — it makes him human.

This week, there will be some kind of a medical evaluation — presumably tests and and MRI — to see if there’s something still wrong with his shoulder. We don’t know for certain whether Maine was lying when he said his shoulder was “fine” or if the Mets are keeping him on the DL because a pitcher with a flat 85-MPH fastball and nothing else cannot succeed in MLB.

What we know for sure is that Maine is not an MLB-caliber pitcher at this moment — and hasn’t been for some time. Further, there is a very good chance that Maine has thrown his last pitch as a New York Met.

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. isuzudude June 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm
    It's a crying shame how far Maine has fallen since his peak in 2006/07. It's also a crying shame how callous and manipulative Jerry and Warthen are to have ostracized and marginalized Maine the way they have. I'm not saying Maine isn't guilty of fibbing about the true nature of his health and justly deserves his round of criticism, as well. But no manager should be as demeaning towards a player who is only trying to help the team and contribute as Jerry has been with Maine.
  2. MikeTomaselli June 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm
    As much as I dislike how it was handled, is there any doubt that Warthen was telling the truth about Maine? He blames everything but himself for bad outings (umpires, not really being into it during a relief outing in spring training). He also is either completely9 in denial about his health, or is in fact consistently lying about it. Which is fine because he doesn't want to let go or give up, but the position he has put management, publicly stating he is okay when they know he is not, makes the organization look bad for "throwing him under the bus." I find it hard to root for Maine when he appears to be a stubborn, immature, excuse filled big baby.
  3. Kevin June 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm
    "he appears to be a stubborn, immature, excuse filled big baby."

    It's hard to argue that, but this could be said about Jerry too – and he's actually supposed to be a leader.

  4. joejanish June 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm
    Neither side looks good. The crux of the matter, though, is that – as usual – management and the player are delivering different messages. In NYC especially you have to be publicly united and consistent, regardless of what’s happening behind the scenes.