Mets Spring Training Question 17: Bobby Parnell

With 17 days until pitchers and Molinas report, question #17 for Mets spring training is this: will Bobby Parnell show any sign of taking a step forward in 2012?

Back in 2009, Parnell was an exciting, young flamethrower seemingly destined to be the closer-in-waiting, taking over ninth innings for the Mets after Francisco Rodriguez finished collecting his pot of gold. But the best laid plans of mice, men, and young flamethrowers often fall astray.

We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Parnell, but those were intertwined with maddening inconsistency. He can reach triple digits with his fastball, but it’s as straight as an arrow and often left high in the zone. Similarly, his slider has at times looked devastating, but Parnell has yet to master it; for every time he drops it over the outside corner for a swinging strike, five times he’ll bury it in the dirt or leave it flat and floating over the heart of the plate with a “hit me” label. Last year he toyed with a change-up/forkball with mixed results. So what will be his focus this spring training? Will he scrap the slider, and continue developing the change? Or will he work on both? If he does work on two secondary pitches, is six weeks enough time to get handle on either, or is he better off concentrating on one?

Beyond developing secondary stuff, there are questions about his make-up, and whether he can handle the pressure of late-inning situations. Is that something that can be improved? If so, how? More mentoring from a veteran?

For those not counting, Parnell enters his fourth MLB season, and is now age 27, turning 28 in early September. At this point in his career, the word “potential” may or may not apply any more. Sure, there is the theory that hard-throwing pitchers take a little longer to mature, but is there any hard evidence supporting it? Aren’t we still waiting for Jorge Julio, Joselo Diaz, and Marcos Carvajal to find the plate? Did Matt Lindstrom ever really turn into what he was supposed to?

What’s your thought? What can Bobby Parnell do this spring to make you believe he’s ready to step forward as a Major League pitcher? Post in the comments.

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. Joe February 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm
    He is one of a varied of relievers that show some promise for a bit of time but then — for whatever reason — falls off.

    I do wonder, since as we know the Mets didn’t spend any money, how he isn’t the closer in ’12. Oh, they did spend money. Moving on.

    I think he is a MLB pitcher. They come in various shapes and sizes. I don’t expect too much from him. He might, in a more reduced role than future closer, have some good months. Past experience leads me not to be overly expectant there.

    He’s also someone who some other team might find worth the risk to offer the Mets some part that the Mets might need or be more willing to take a risk on than the original team.

  2. argonbunnies February 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm
    As long as he can throw 100, the “potential” tag will apply, even if he’s 40.

    The odds of reaching it do seem less optimistic every year, though.

    Given the inconsistency of just about every aspect of his pitching (location, movement, and velocity for fastball and slider), he might be wise to truly simplify. Throw a moving 99mph fastball to the bottom right corner of the zone on every pitch of spring training until he nails that. Then use that as his default pitch in real games, acknowledging that his ability to do anything else will vary from day to day. Having one truly nasty pitch consistently in his repertoire would do wonders, I think.

  3. Neil Peart February 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm
    I think Parnell is destined to be a middle reliever with closer stuff…but it’s still too early for other teams to have reached the same conclusion. Therefore, if he gets on a nice run of scoreless appearances around the Trade Deadline, I’d like to see the Mets flip him for more prospects. We could use a promising bat or two down in the Minors…
  4. Izzy February 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm
    I don’t understand. Why do Met fans think that other teams’ professional scouting staff are dumber than Met fans?
  5. Glenn February 3, 2012 at 10:59 pm
    The problem with most Mets fans is perspective. Parnell can and has in the past been a good member of the bullpen. The problem is that people see that 100mph fastball and want him to be the next Goose. Parnell is not and may never be that guy. But he cab still be a guy to pitch the seventh and come in to get that tough rightie like Pence or Zimmerman or Hanley. Part of building a team is understanding who people are, not who you wish them to be.
  6. jerseymet February 5, 2012 at 11:25 am
    Does Parnell have any options left? If so send him to Buffalo as starter and let him rack up innings. Parnell problem is his consistancy. The start and stop of the bullpen may be messing him up.
  7. DaveSchneck February 6, 2012 at 9:30 am
    The pen has no studs, but this is the deepest pen I can remember the Mets having in quite some time. Parnell still needs to develop better comand of the FB and a more consistent offspeed pitch, but pitching in the 6th and 7th should allow him to do that with less pressure. There is no reason to give up on him now.
  8. Warren February 6, 2012 at 10:27 am
    He pitched WAY better in September after learing the knuckle curve from Isringhausen, thereby giving him a 3rd pitch. Even opposing batters said it had a tremendous effect. I’m keenly interested to see if Parnell continures to use it and if it makes a difference this season.