Jenrry Mejia’s Age Questioned by Dominican Authorities

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?

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. since68 February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am
    Say it ain’t so Joe. Mejia is in the Mets Dominican camp getting ready as if he were in PSL. As long as this gets resolved in the next 7-10 days, there should be little issue.
  2. Dan B February 15, 2013 at 11:38 am
    Ironically, I think because the Mets have so many young starting pitchers they should keep Mejja as a starter because I think his biggest asset to the Mets is trade bait and a young starter will bring back more then a reliever. Mets need more position prospects, they can afford to lose one or two pitching prospects, and Mejia might help correct this.
  3. DaveSchneck February 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm
    Joe,
    Agreed. Give Mejia a spot in the Vegas rotation and let him go every 5 days until he hits an innings limit. Let him be in line for a Flushing promotion based on performance.
  4. Kanehl February 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm
    Given the Mets’ history of due diligence and forhright honesty, I’m guessing he’s in his mid-40s… :)
  5. Dan February 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    If he survives the launching pad aka Reno he should prove to be useful, and/or have value. Premature penning would be a sure way to make certain his development ceases, and prevent his value from increasing.
    • AC Wayne February 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm
      Hilarious, the Mets finally have a dearth of talented pitching prospects and their AAA team is in Vegas
      • Joe Janish February 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm
        Dearth or depth?
        • AC Wayne February 17, 2013 at 1:18 am
          depth, thanks for clearing that up, I don’t know what I was thinking by using dearth
    • TexasGusCC February 15, 2013 at 11:48 pm
      A little off the topic, but, why did they move all the way out there when they went to Buffalo to be closer to New York than Norfolk was? And, wouldn’t that pitching environment stunt the progress of pitchers that are afraid to throw strikes (See the Rockies pitchers)?
      • Izzy February 16, 2013 at 8:59 am
        They moved Tex because Buffalo kicked them out. Buffalo had a chance to switch to Toronto and jumped at it. nobody in AAA was willing to dump their franchise for the Mets anywhere so they were forced to go to Vegas as it was the only AAA team without an affiliation. Buffalo felt disrespected by the Mets. What a surprise since Alderson is unable to treat anyone with any respect, fans, players, minor league orgs.
        • The King February 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm
          The Pirates used to have their AAA team in Hawaii. I think moving there would have been the least Sandy could have done for his MLB wannabes, has beens, and never weres. “Sorry, son, we’re sending you down.” “Oh, dang.”
      • Dan B February 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm
        Tex, go back and read my never ending rants about how, despite the propaganda otherwise, the facts show the Mets invest less money and put less importance on building the farm system then other teams. AAA affiliates know this and shun the Mets. Isn’t it sad that the Mets, despite finishing 20 games under. 500 since 2009 and getting top draft picks, have only 3 significant prospects close to MLB ready and all three were traded for? This from a team who hasn’t traded a real prospect away in years? (Sorry Beato)
        • AC Wayne February 17, 2013 at 1:25 am
          Not sure your observation is entirely accurate, last season there were many times when their starting nine with the exception of Bay, were all from their farm system, Davis, Murphy, Tejada, Wright, Thole, Niese, Duda, Nieuwenhuis, Parnell, Gee were also part of the MLB club as well
        • Joe Janish February 17, 2013 at 10:22 am
          ACWayne, all of the players you mention arrived before 2009.
        • AC Wayne February 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm
          I was referring to Dan B’s comment “the facts show the Mets invest less money and put less importance on building the farm system then other teams” ??? I see that he mentions ‘since 2009′ – Alderson, has made it a point to beef up their farm system, Nimmo, Harvey, etc. – not so sure that the Mets have a reputation with totally neglecting their farm system which is why no affiliate wants to house them?
        • Joe Janish February 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm
          First off, I’m not sure how much Alderson has “beefed up” the farm system, outside of making two trades that brought in a few prospects (Beltran / Dickey deals). (Harvey, BTW, was drafted by Omar Minaya.) Tomorrow morning there will be a post here addressing the issue of whether the Mets are really “rebuilding” the farm.

          Second, I think Dan B. only expressed half the story. Yes, the Mets have been less than adequate in developing minor leaguers. More to the point, though, is that they haven’t assembled a team worth watching at the AAA level since the 2005 Norfolk Tides. In 2006, after a 38-year relationship between the Mets and the Tides, the Tides chose to cut ties, citing, among other things, that the Mets “took them for granted.” How so? No Mets executive made a single trip to Norfolk in ’06 — a season in which the Tides finished second to last, with a 57-84 records. At the same time, a new ownership group took over the Tides — one that had strong ties to the Orioles.

          After Norfolk, the Mets went to New Orleans, making big donations toward Hurricane Katrina charities. But the Mets didn’t want to be down there, and bolted for Buffalo immediately when their two-year contract ended. In Buffalo, the Mets made big promises and follow through on few. What the Mets didn’t understand was that the Bisons cared about winning, and expected their parent MLB team to stock the club with quality players. Instead, the Mets filled the Buffalo roster with crap, so the team stunk, and attendance dropped significantly. With the two-year contract nearly up, the Blue Jays — they of the really strong farm system filled with quality players, and a history of fielding competitive AAA teams — made overtures that Buffalo couldn’t resist.

          That’s what it comes down to — minor league teams, like everyone else, need to make money. If a team doesn’t win, they don’t draw fans, and can’t make money. The Mets have a reputation of disrespecting their AAA affiliates and not stocking their AAA team with quality players. I bet they will be looking for another AAA club again two years from now, when their agreement with Las Vegas is up.

  6. TheKinginFlushing February 16, 2013 at 8:53 am
    First time posting a comment here but….

    the next Felix Hernandez? really? if only the mets were to be so lucky. I dont see the connection between a pitcher who has thrown 1620 innings since he was 19 and an over rated mets prospect. A pitcher who has been in the cy young race numerous times and another, who has provided nothing to the mets. I hate to say it but im seeing a lastings milledge future for jenrry

    • Joe Janish February 16, 2013 at 11:17 am
      I certainly don’t think Mejia will be the next King Felix. However, I sometimes adjust my tone for those wearing blue and orange sunglasses — those who think d’Arnaud will be the next Johnny Bench, Zack Wheeler the next Nolan Ryan, and, wouldn’t trade Lucas Duda for Justin Upton because Duda is going to hit 60 homeruns one season.
  7. TexasGusCC February 16, 2013 at 10:51 am
    Thank you Izzy. Can it get any worse? Their reputation is in shambles.
  8. TexasGusCC February 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm
    I admit to being new to this site, but it’s an honest view without the rose colored glasses. Although I would often like to give the benefit of doubt, it really has become hard to understand what the Mets are thinking. Now that the Madoff mess is cleared up, I hope they can put their baseball team in order.
    I wanted Upton badly. But, I thought Flores and Syndergaard should be enough, but Wheeler would be ok too since they have lots of pitching. Trading an unknown for a known is usually a no brainer. Also, I was surprised at Towers wanting to just unload him before his vacation started and not bothering to return many phone calls. Nice job Kevin.
    Last thought: Why is Flores not playing RF full time? He doesn’t have a position anyways. We have infielders. We hear about his foot speed, but Francouer is real slow, but he can catch a fly ball; so was Paul O’Neill; so is Cuddyer; and others. If Flores was a shortstop, he can become an outfielder. He will not be the first.
    • Joe Janish February 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm
      If the Mets were convinced that Flores could hit well enough to play a corner position, he’d be in the outfield. They must have a question about his bat, and figure if he can play passable defense in the infield, he’ll have more value. It’s the Daniel Murphy Theory.
  9. Joe February 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm
    ” those who think d’Arnaud will be the next Johnny Bench, Zack Wheeler the next Nolan Ryan, and, wouldn’t trade Lucas Duda for Justin Upton because Duda is going to hit 60 homeruns one season”

    Mets fans aren’t the only ones who think d’A has a promising future. Ditto Wheeler. They don’t think “good future” means “Nolan Ryan.” I, e.g., would mean that he has a reasonable shot at being a top of the rotation starter with a future. I don’t know who this person as to Duda is either. Some fans are hopeful, some too hopeful in the minds of some, but few are that caricature.

    You adjust your tone to be sarcastic. Whatever keeps you going, you know?

    After he deals with his existential difficulties, he should go to the minors and be used the best way that his talent warrants. Meanwhile, the Mets have five starters & a bunch of relievers who can be tested out to see who will stick.

    • Joe February 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm
      As to pitching, the Mets aren’t you know the Braves or Nats or something, but I’m sure there are a few teams who would want their situation in that dept.
    • Joe Janish February 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm
      You’re right — most people who follow baseball closely agree that d’Arnaud is going to be a MLB receiver. But he’s being built up in NY as Johnny Bench, and that’s a tall order.

      As to Wheeler, the argument is not that he is a young pitcher who has displayed great talent – it’s whether he will ever translate that into MLB stardom. Many Mets fans are convinced Wheeler (and Harvey) will save the franchise.

      Regarding Duda, hang around the comments sections of some of the popular Mets blogs.