Should Dillon Gee Pitch One More Inning?

Going into the final two games of the season, the biggest Mets story may be Dillon Gee falling one frame short of 200 innings.

Per Gee’s regular throwing schedule, Sunday would be a “throw day” / bullpen session. Should he be given the ball for one inning against the Brewers in game 162 to achieve his goal?

Here’s what loyal MetsToday visitor and commenter “argonbunnies” had this to say:

… Even if it doesn’t actually matter when it comes to winning baseball games, players are more proud of hitting .300 than .299. Round numbers are satisfying, and that’s that’s not just to the athlete, but also to the athlete’s entire culture — fans, friends, teammates, agents, etc.

Collins would have to be deaf, blind and dumb not to realize this. So I guess he just doesn’t care.

This would be okay if he always operated that way, but he hasn’t. He’s allowed stars like Wright, Reyes and Santana to dictate what they do, he’s always had an anointed closer who gets every save chance, etc. Do you think Collins would have pulled Santana at 199 innings in a marginal situation? Of course not. Zero chance. Zero. But because Gee has no clout and is a mild-mannered good soldier, Collins feels free to pinch-hit when he feels like it, no matter how small the advantage, no matter how large the cost to Gee. I don’t like this at all.

I agree with argonbunnies — regardless of the logic, round numbers like 200, .300, 20, 30, etc., help athletes feel better about themselves, increase motivation, and improve their confidence. Dillon Gee wanted very badly to pitch 200 innings in 2013, and falling short by one lousy inning will put a bitter taste in his mouth all winter. He could go one of two ways — either use it as extra motivation for 2014, or, be so disgusted that he chooses not to have a round numerical goal. Certainly, there is argument that an innings goal is not a great one for a pitcher, because attaining it is not completely within the pitcher’s control — even if he’s pitching well, particularly in the NL, he could be pulled out of a game earlier due to the score. On the other hand, maybe it IS a good goal with which to continue, because a National League pitcher can, after all, contribute offensively. Maybe falling short of 200 innings will motivate Gee to not only pitch effectively, but also to become a standout bunter and a strong hitter.

How about the idea of giving Gee the ball for one inning on Saturday or Sunday? There are a few ways to look at it.

1. He’d gain the satisfaction of getting to that round number.

2. He’d get to 200, but it might feel “cheapened” because he didn’t get all 200 as a starter (this was suggested by Ron Darling).

3. Getting that one extra inning may very well help his future contract negotiations. As illogical as it is to an athlete to have the intrinsic need to reach round numbers, it’s equally illogical that round numbers can result in significantly more money.

Then there is the Terry Collins side of this debate, and I agree with argonbunnies. How can Collins do the “favor” of pulling Jose Reyes out of the final game of a meaningless season to secure the batting title, yet not give Gee the ball for a 200th inning in the 162nd game of an equally meaningless season? Particularly when Collins was pretty sure Reyes wasn’t returning the next season, and, he’s pretty sure Gee will be part of his rotation in 2014? What good did it do for Collins to help Reyes? Will stopping Gee short of 200 create a bit of ill will with his most durable and reliable starter going into next year?

Now, the conspiracy theory: were both of these individual achievements controlled by someone above Collins? In other words, was there someone in upper management “recommending” to Collins that he make sure Reyes gets the batting title? And, was it also “recommended” that Gee fall just short of an innings total that might make him more expensive?

What’s your thought? Should Gee get the ball for three more outs this weekend? Why or why not? Sound off 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. argonbunnies September 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm
    One point I’ll reiterate from my earlier ranting:

    Gee getting 200 is also good for the fans. A likable underdog coming back from injury to post a good season, capped by reaching a personal milestone? That sort of nice story is pretty much all we Mets fans have to feel good about right now.

    Smacking down Gee’s near-achievement also smacks down the fans’ chance to see something good happen for one of our guys.

    It was an awful move by Collins. I don’t know if it can be fixed by a Sunday cameo or not, but I would at least want Gee to be offered the option.

  2. Dan B September 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm
    I vote let him do it. As stupid as it seems, it is also stupid some people think so much differently between 199 and 200 innings. In one of my favorite books, Sportscasting by Tobias Moskowitz and Ron Wertheim, (it is like Freakenomics for sports), they had a chapter about what athletes would do at the end of the season to round up their stats and the benefits of it. For example in the last 25 years they checked there has never been a batter who was batting 299 who walked in his last atbat.
  3. Jon C September 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm
    gotta admit I”m kind of shocked to see these comments. Who the heck actually cares about 199 vs 200 innings? I can’t think of one mets fan I know personally that would give a darn either way about gee reaching this so called “milestone”.

    Either way we feel good about him, he was off to a rocky start and turned it into a nice season. Throwing him out there for one inning diminishes that in my opinion and makes it into a circus.

    If by pitching an extra inning he could somehow win a cy young award (makes more sense with a batting title) then I could understand it…but what the heck is 200 innnings??

    I’m surprised to see Joe take this position that a round number will “help athletes feel better about themselves, increase motivation, and improve their confidence.” Going back to trade deadline talk, if you believe this, then do you think it was beneficial to hold onto a player like Byrd rather than trading him for “anything” (anything being better than letting him walk at the end of the year). Would having such a player on the team to help boost his teammates performance actually do more good for the team in the long run?

    • argonbunnies September 29, 2013 at 2:17 am
      It may seem like a trivial topic, but if you’re looking for reasons to watch the 2013 Mets game #159, I challenge you to do better than “let’s see if Gee gets to 200 innings!”

      Maybe that doesn’t do it for you as a fan, but for me it’s better than nothing. I like Gee, and thought it would have been nice.

      As for giving athletes arbitrary numbers to feel happy about, it may seem silly at first, but pick a number that matters to you, and then imagine being forced to fall one short. It stings, right? Now imagine you’re still working with the guys who cut you off. Do you expect a fair shot in the future? Do you feel like they value you and believe in you? Are you pumped to go back out and try it again? I’m not saying it’s a huge deal — if you’re a pro, you do your job — but the scenario isn’t exactly ideal.

      Perhaps I am just a numbers nerd, though. I am sad that Rivera is retiring one out shy of a perfect 1:1 baserunners:innings ratio.

    • Joe Janish September 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm
      Maybe I’m in the minority, but as a high school and college player, I had the goal of hitting .400 — and when I was “only” at .395, it ticked me off and got me taking extra swings in the cage or off the tee. I never played a 162-game season, but I imagine if I did, I’d have similar motivation to reach certain round numbers. And for what it’s worth, as a coach I’ve had round-number goals for wins in a season.

      I don’t understand how you take an individual’s personal motivation to reach a round number and apply it to trading / not trading Marlon Byrd. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

  4. DaveSchneck September 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm
    I agree that Collins has demonstrated double standards, but I would gather that this is now the standard in the era of the diva star athlete. I have no problem if Gee got an inning Sunday, but it is no big deal if he doesn’t. Collins was trying to win a game and he pulled his starter after six innings for a PH. That’s proper baseball, and the candyass nonsense Reyes pulled a few years back should never be the standard so long as they are charging money for the tickets.
  5. Izzy September 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm
    There is no rhyme nor reason for any of this puppets moves. Why is denDecker rotting on the bench so Baxter plays? Why is Quintenella playing when there is a kid brought up to play? Why is Lucas Duda batting number 2? Why is Recker getting games still? If anybody can answer these questions they can also answer why Collins will or will not give Gee his extra inning. Does it matter? It matters to a pitcher since 200 has become a magic number. does it matter to his future $$. Probably sounds better to an arbiter especially if he has more of them so it helps Gee? Does it matter to Met fans. There are so few still paying attention it probably doesn’t matter. Should Collins do it? Sure, he looks like a little man if he refuses. Will he? Ask his boss.
    • crozier September 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm
      I did as you suggested, Izzy, and asked Terry’s boss. This was Sandy’s response:

      “I am optimistic that Terry will do what is best. Dillon has been a valuable asset, and we hope he continues to be an effective contributing member of our team.”

      I’m not entirely certain that he answered the question, but I think you’ll agree it reads really nice.

      • Joe Janish September 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm
        I feel very good about Izzy’s ability to respond to your question, and believe that regardless if he does, he’ll weigh the pros and cons of Alderson’s answer and come to a logical well-thought-out conclusion.
  6. crozier September 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm
    Gee wants to pitch an inning Sunday? Okay. I’d love to see Mo play center field in Houston. Neither game has any impact on the four teams involved, so what the heck? Go for it. Maybe Todd Helton can play Dinger, the Rockies mascot, on Sunday. I hope Selig sings “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” sometime next year, and Cliff Lee parachutes to the pitchers’ mound to close out 2016.

    I think Dan Murphy has always wanted to wear an eye patch, if only for one inning.

    But I don’t care about round numbers anymore. Had Dickey won 19 games, he would still have been the best pitcher, and story, in the NL last year. He wanted 20 wins, the Cy Young, and to start the All Star Game, so I’m glad for his competitive self that he accomplished his goals in part. But had Collins pitched him in short relief to pick up win #20, would anyone in baseball have respected that? And isn’t respect a more valued aspect?

    (Yeah, I know, Fangraphs hasn’t come up with a Respect Measurement, or one for “will to win” or “spark” or “grit.” The “Fire Joe Morgan” blog was years ahead of its time in skewering this nonsense).

    The Reyes moment – and I was there – ranks pretty low on my list of 21st century Mets lowlights, though in retrospect I’m fine that he beat out Braun. But we’re progressing in valuing ballplayers for what they do well, while losing the attachment to meaningless/less valuable numbers, as we should.

    Or maybe we could start referring to 199 innings as the “Gee Line”! Then he could achieve a legacy just the way he is.

    • argonbunnies September 29, 2013 at 1:57 am
      The next time I’m discussing a pitcher who’ll give you 180-190 innings a year, I vow to refer to him as “just below the Gee line”. We’ll see if it catches on.
      • Joe Janish September 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm
        Me too. BRILLIANT idea, Crozier!
  7. norme September 29, 2013 at 12:33 am
    It’s really amazing what we get hung up on when there is very little of a positive nature concerning the Mets.
    If it would be important in Gee’s mind then let him do it. But, somehow I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the lower recesses of what passes for little jeffy’s mentality is the feeling that Gee reaching 200 will cost the Mets money down the line.
    Joe Janish, as others have done, I applaud you for putting in the great effort in a lost season. Thank you.
    • Izzy September 29, 2013 at 11:26 am
      I second the words of norme. Joe Janish you did a great service to all the long (and short) suffering Metsies. Five straight losing seasons. Tied with the Astros! Not even the Cubbies can match are latest era of sucktitude. A “protcected ” pick. A winter of Janish setting us up to argue the newest excuses for not bringing talent to Queens. Will the excitement ever end? Thanks Joe Janish. And when deciding who to root for this October, remember Clint Hurdle is an old Met, and a Met minor league manager and also a guy passed over for the incredible Terry Collins. Sounds like another Wally Backman,who got the chance.
      • Joe Janish September 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm
        Thanks Izzy. I have to admit, this was far and away the toughest season to blog about the Mets, for various reasons — and this is year #8. Wow how time flies. Seems just like yesterday I was wondering out loud why Willie Randolph refused to give Victor Diaz a shot at left field, and had more faith in the likes of Michael “Mother” Tucker and Ricky “Luh-DEE.”

        Thank you, Izzy, and everyone else for keeping the conversation going. We made it!

  8. chris September 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm
    The sad thing is that the biggest story for the Mets at any point is whether Dillon Gee gets to pitch 1 more inning. That said, it would have been nice to reach the milestone, such as it is.