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.

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. jerseymet February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am
    Great post! Izzy just vanished. I hope he catches on somewhere.
  2. Joe February 20, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Can he get an invite, show he has something left and still be picked up by someone else? Or does it not work that way?

    And, ultimately, it doesn’t really make sense for him to take up a roster spot during the regular season that might be there for someone else. He was in effect the set-up man last year. For good or ill, the team paid money to get options there.

    Someone like Acosta also provides flexibility and probably is in better shape. You can send him up and down and anyways, Jason probably can find some team on a contender that could use an arm. There are enough of them out there and enough possible slots.

  3. Izzy February 20, 2012 at 11:57 am
    To me Jason wasn’t a feel good story. He was a feel bad story; a reminder of generation K and all the promises the Met front office threw out that these guys couldn’t deliver, due to injury Kind of reminding Met fans not to buy the Alderson BS that is being thrown out about waiting for Omar’s kids to save Queens. As for Jason on this year’s team? Does he make them contend? Then sure, anything to make the team be good, oh wait Sandy tells Met fans to accept losing. Find a contender Jason.
  4. Dan B February 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    It wouldn’t surprise me if Izzy takes his time and waits until May to market himself. The time off, and not pitching in April, could only help him in September.
  5. Not-Izzy February 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    What is Alderson supposed to say? We’re going to contend? This is a team destined for last place. Why deny it?

    • Joe February 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm
      Actually, he doesn’t say that — he has not conceded the season & making it about Sandy is shooting the messenger.

      Also, the fact that often prospects don’t come to pass doesn’t mean any team that looks to the future of prospects in a hopeful way is just full with “bs.” He also is not guaranteeing they will “save” the team. Noting that there are some promising prospects is typical and I don’t really know why it’s a problem.

      Since even w/o “Generation K” the Mets contended 1998-2001, having an exciting playoff in ’99 and a WS (not that good, but actually stopping a Yankee winning streak), it seems to me — but it’s a matter of sentiment — looking at Izzy’s return in such a negative light is rather a depressing way of looking at life. Some bad choices were made, but the ups/downs of prospects in the mid-90s wasn’t the ultimate promise there. The team got over it, you’d think some others would. But, ’tis a choice.

  6. DaveSchneck February 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm
    Izzy is down on Izzy, not that’s something. The Mets’ has no studs but it is deep and should be a stength for the team. Izzy also said he won’t return for the $500k he was paid last year, so it doesn’t look like a fit this go-around.
  7. fredfigueroa February 21, 2012 at 11:58 am
    i was a catcher for many years but could not run. a body is not made for catching at 66 i needed a new hip. my son owns adamsappleny a private fitness center that specializes
    in helping people copt with body structure issues. send him an email at adamsappleny.com or check youtube

    this is my 2012 gift to you ps i played in central park from 1955 to 1964 with the local spanish harlem leagues we played 2 games on sat and 2 on sunday

    • Joe Janish February 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm
      Thank you, Fred, I appreciate it!

      Hey I played in the Pancho Coimbre Central Park league a few years ago, so we kind of have something in common.

      If your son takes insurance I’ll give him a shot. It would be nice to go through a day without back pain. Thanks again.