Where in the world is Jenrry Mejia? He’s stuck in the Dominican Republic, detained by authorities as they review his identity.
According to Sandy Alderson and a random, unnamed MLB source, the detainment is likely random. In other words, it’s believed that Mejia is not necessarily suspected of fraud, but rather the lucky recipient of a random review.
Does his age matter that much? Probably from the perspective of his perceived value in a trade. Otherwise, it’s not THAT big of a deal if it turns out he’s 25 or 26 instead of 23. Mejia’s biggest obstacle to becoming a successful big leaguer is his mechanics, and if a pitcher doesn’t make adjustments to his delivery by age 23, even after a flaw leads to major surgery, then it’s unlikely he’ll ever make the necessary changes. When a kid is in his late teens or just into his early twenties, it’s slightly easier to make adjustments and erase bad habits. But every year that bad habits continue to be ingrained makes it that much more difficult to fix them.
After returning from Tommy John surgery and rehab, Mejia displayed the exact same pitching motion he had prior to his elbow and shoulder injuries. That motion includes inefficient moving parts that are both dangerous to his health and makes consistency a challenge. He might have good days — some very good days — but they’ll be mixed with bad days. If Mejia remains a starter, I envision him being an eternal enigma, not unlike Jorge Sosa or — dare I say — Oliver Perez.
But this is only my opinion, and I could be completely wrong. Mejia may very well turn out to be the next Felix Hernandez. So rather than ponder Mejia’s future, let’s focus on how this snafu with the consulate is affecting his “right now.”
The reason pitchers show up earlier than everyone else is because it theoretically takes them longer to get into shape. Mejia is missing the first few days, and it appears as though he’ll miss at least the first week — if not the first two weeks before it’s all said and done. Two weeks is a major setback for someone attempting to make the Opening Day starting rotation, and I have to wonder if the Mets will stick to the plan of Mejia starting, or consider him as a bullpen candidate.
Even though I have a pessimistic view of Mejia’s future, I hope the Mets keep Mejia on a starting pitcher’s routine, and have him begin the season in AAA. Sound hypocritical? Maybe it is. But I’d like to see my hypothesis proved wrong, rather than taken as gospel, because ultimately, a starting pitcher — even a mediocre one — is far more valuable than a reliever. For the same reasons I never understood why the Mets refused to return Aaron Heilman to a starting role, I hope Mejia is given at least one full year to prove he can start — or suggest that his career will be coming out of the bullpen.
What’s your thought? If Mejia gets to camp too late to be a starter by April, should he be moved to a bullpen track so he can help the big-league club right away — especially now that the rotation appears full? Or should the Mets let him continue as a starter, even if it means beginning the year in AAA? In which role do you think he can more quickly develop value — perhaps to the point where he is a coveted trading chip?
About the Author
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.