Where is Jason Isringhausen?
This question comes from MetsToday reader “Bill M” :
I believe that Jason Isringhausen is still available to sign? He still has some gas in his tank and would be a great mentor for the young pitchers on the staff so why not sign him or at least invite him to spring training like last season??? He also came up through the Mets system and did a nice job last year until the problems with his back. A physical would let the management know if he is OK for this season? If no other team is interested he might sign for a fair price if he still wants to play?? Sounds like a no-brainer to me???
Interesting question, Bill. To you, it may be a no-brainer, but to the 2012 Mets, it’s another paycheck to dish out.
Based on what we saw of him last year, you’re right — there should be room for Jason Isringhausen in any bullpen where Manny Acosta exists and Danny Herrera has a shot at earning a spot (hmm, will I eat crow for those snide criticisms? doubtful). But there are a few elements at play, beyond the money thing.
First, Izzy did not pitch after September 6th due to a herniated disc. Speaking as one who has three, herniated discs don’t “heal” (if someone knows of a way they do, please let me know — I’ll be forever grateful). Once they happen, all an athlete can do is find ways to manage and minimize the pain. In other words, it’s a chronic condition.
That’s not to say Izzy can’t pitch with one — he probably has been for years. However, when you add his herniated disc to his 39 years of age, a big question mark pops up — and the Mets literally cannot afford question marks.
Secondly, since the Mets are presumably going nowhere in 2012, and likely nowhere in 2013, it’s time they start looking at younger arms who may have a future with the club. Without Izzy around, maybe Pedro Beato makes the club, for example. Or, maybe either Bobby Parnell or Manny Acosta finally “figure it out”, and as a result, become valuable trading chips.
Finally, there is Isringhausen’s own mindset to consider. Maybe he doesn’t want to take a minor-league deal and have to prove himself again. Or, maybe he’d rather sit out and wait for another offer with a team that has a legitimate shot at a postseason bid, rather than resign himself to playing with a team that will be a success if it doesn’t finish in last place.
At this point, nothing would surprise me. I wouldn’t flinch if he suddenly appeared in Port St. Lucie, and I won’t be stunned if he announces his retirement. My bet is that Izzy will get himself into shape, then wait for someone, somewhere, to go down with injury in March. I’m hoping that he can latch on with someone, because he pitched well last year and was fun to watch.