Midseason Analysis: Scott Schoeneweis
Here’s the story. After a mediocre career as a starter, Schoeneweis is transitioned to the bullpen, first as a mop-up man, then as a LOOGY. He has moderate success, though nothing to write home about, until the American League catches on to his run-of-the-mill repertoire of a straight fastball and so-so secondary stuff. After eight years in the AL, he finds his way to Cincinnati and enjoys immediate success against National League batters who’ve never seen him before — amassing two wins and three saves in 16 meaningless September games.
Based on those whopping 14 innings, and a questionable scouting report from Johnny Damon (OK, they probably didn’t ask Damon for his take), the Mets sign Scott Schoeneweis to a 3-year, $11M contract, and expect him to step into their bullpen as not just a LOOGY, but a potential setup man.
Willie Randolph bought into the idea, saying as much during spring training. To hear Willie tell it, he was counting on “The Show” to regularly eat up seventh and eighth innings — go 2-3 innings when necessary — and maybe even close a few games. And he pitched fairly well at the start of the season — right up to the first week of May. Then the wheels fell off.
Interestingly, his performance went downhill immediately following his 17th appearance. Looking at last years 16 games with the Reds, maybe that’s his quota for success in a season.
Also of note, Schoeneweis has pitched startlingly better on the road (1.04 ERA) than at home (9.53 ERA). Is that a freak stat, or is there a mental issue (i.e., the Whitson Factor)?
Roger Clemens has a clause in his contract stating that he does not have to travel with the team to away games. Perhaps the Mets could look into extending the reverse for Schoeneweis — instead of being with the team at Shea, he can continue right on down to his hometown of Long Branch, NJ, until the Mets set off on their next road trip.
The Show’s velocity is down by 3-4 MPH from last year — a significant drop for someone with below-average command and flat movement — yet he insists his leg issue is not affecting his performance.
At this point, we hope that Randolph realizes that The Show is fairly worthless except as a limited-use LOOGY and for occasional mop-up duty. He’s holding lefties to a .222 average but righties are hammering him at a .333 clip, including 5 HRs, 7 doubles, 1 triple, and 17 RBI in 78 at-bats. Why Willie has had him face more righties than lefties this year is beyond the realm of reason.
Can Scott Schoeneweis offer something to the Mets in the second half? Maybe — but only exclusively against lefthanded hitters. Randolph must put an end to this hope-against-hope that he can eat up innings — it’s time to adjust the plan.