Archive: August 7th, 2009

Is Angel Pagan for Real?

Photo of Angel Pagan from www.legendofcecilioguante.com

Can the Mets' Angel Pagan continue his current pace? Photo from www.legendofcecilioguante.com


Through 151 plate appearances, Angel Pagan is hitting .305 with 2 HR, 7 doubles, 7 triples, 18 RBI, 8 SB, and a .344 OBP. His defense in centerfield has for the most part been very good, and his aggressive, all-out approach to the game has been inspiring. No doubt, he’s been a catalyst at the top of the lineup, jump-starting rallies and providing excitement for the fans.

Now, the million-dollar question: can he keep it up?

Already, some fans and pundits are wondering out loud if the Mets may be best served by moving Carlos Beltran this winter to

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No Giving Up Yet

white-flagIt turns out that the trade for Anderson Hernandez was a message to the rest of the world that the New York Mets are BUYERS, and still have a chance to propel themselves into the postseason.

Furthermore, the installation of Bobby Parnell into the starting rotation is a move to bolster, rather than hinder, the team’s chances. (Though I think it would behoove the Mets to check the Farmer’s Almanac and try to coincide Parnell’s starts with days that it is expected to rain. They may get lucky and end up with games that are halted after five innings.)

We know the Mets have not yet surrendered, and in fact are still focused on “playing meaningful games in September”, because in an article today by Adam Rubin, in which the subject was the possible trade of Billy Wagner:

Furthermore, the Mets aren’t at the stage yet where they’re writing off 2009, so giving serious consideration to trading Wagner is still a couple of weeks away. “I think everyone still feels there’s a 10-game win streak around the corner,” a team insider optimistically said.

So there you have it — the Mets are still in this thing. Book your tickets now to watch the pennant race heat up in September … and hurry, before games are sold out !!!

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Confirmed: Bobby Parnell in the Rotation

bobby-parnell-stlWell that didn’t take long.

Less than 48 hours after Jerry Manuel hinted at the possibility the Mets were considering Bobby Parnell as a starter, it was announced that the young fireballer would start on Saturday night in San Diego.

So much for stretching him out.

The Mets must laugh at teams like the Yankees, who hemmed and hawed and wasted weeks “stretching out” Joba Chamberlain last year in an effort to get him conditioned for starting duty. What nonsense! These are young, strapping men with world-class athletic talent and virility — two consecutive 30-pitch outings are more than enough to get a guy ready!

Of course, Parnell will not be expected to throw more than 50-60 pitches at most. Part of the reason Livan Hernandez was hung out to dry on Thursday night was to make sure Nelson Figueroa, Tim Redding, Elmer Dessens, Brian Stokes, etc., will be available for length on Saturday night.

What’s bothersome about this knee-jerk decision is that, essentially, it says the Mets have raised the white flag on the season. Most of us knew the season was over a month ago, and Jerry Manuel gave up long before that, but the message we keep getting from the front office is that the Mets are still in it. Go ahead, keep buying tickets — the cavalry is returning soon to save the season!

Let’s face it — Parnell has exciting velocity, but not much else. Having him start in the big leagues right now is a head-scratcher — wouldn’t it make more sense to have him work on polishing his secondary stuff against minor leaguers, and away from the NYC spotlight? Many Mets fans are excited at the prospect of seeing Parnell as a starter, as if pitching in the first inning will magically make his slider consistent and cause a change-up to emerge from his hand. Unfortunately, what you’re going to see in 4-5 innings is the same rollercoaster you’ve been seeing over the course of 4-5 relief outings. Parnell will look lights-out one inning, deer-in-the-headlights the next. We’ll see the baseball traveling at 100-MPH going toward the plate at one moment, and traveling away from it at the same speed moments later. No one doubts Parnell’s electric arm and future potential. But he doesn’t have the repertoire nor command to sustain a second look by a big-league lineup.

It’s exactly the same thing the Mets did with Mike Pelfrey in 2006 and 2007 — force-feeding a one-pitch pitcher at the big league level on the theory that such an experience will accelerate development. Three years later, Big Pelf remains an inconsistent enigma — some days he’s spectacular, others he’s awful. So I’m not convinced this “into the fire” approach is a great idea. And some would argue that Pelfrey was more advanced in ’06 than Parnell is now.

I would like to see Parnell succeed, and I wonder whether facing big leaguers right now — at a time when he obviously needs to develop a secondary pitch — will retard, rather than accelerate, his development. At the same time, I also wonder, what is the holdup on Bradley Holt? If the Mets believe in this force-feeding strategy, then promote Holt as well. Let’s see both kids zip their 95+ heaters for as long as they can. Good teams will sit on the #1 and tee off relentlessly but that’s part of the positive learning experience, isn’t it?

The 2010 season begins on Saturday night. The talking point is that Bobby Parnell “gets stronger as the game goes on”. Let’s hope he stays in long enough for us to see that happen. Further, let’s pray he exits the game 100% healthy.

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Mets Game 108: Loss to Padres

Padres 8 Mets 3

Ho-hum. Good thing this one was happening on the Left Coast, so most Mets fans were asleep while it was occurring.

Except, even the Mets fans who stayed awake to witness this depressing contest were fighting to keep their eyes open beyond the third inning.

Livan Hernandez did not pitch well. One would expect that a San Diego lineup full of youngsters would be easy prey for the wily veteran. However, these kiddies were clearly equipped with a game plan: make Livan throw the ball in the strike zone. Their collective discipline was devastating to Livan’s roundabout strategy from frame one, as the Friars worked him over for two runs and then another four in the third. Remarkably, Jerry Manuel left Livan in the game through the madness, and he gave up one more in the fifth before finally leaving.

Tim Redding got back to his usual routine, allowing the eighth Padre run in the seventh inning.

Meantime, the offense could do nothing against rookie lefthander Clayton Richard, who mowed down the Mets with ease before running out of gas in the sixth. The Mets mounted a mildly inspiring rally to chase Richard from the game, but Danny Murphy stifled it with a double-play grounder.

Notes

Aside from that rally-killing grounder, Murphy had two hits in four at-bats, as did Fernando Tatis. Tatis drove in a run and had the Mets’ only extra-base hit of the evening.

After watching Hernandez allow four runs in the third inning, and seeing him return to pitch the fourth, the fate of the Mets’ season became crystal-clear. The season is over, done, finished. Livan was left out there to dry, to save the bullpen. In other words, the game had been conceded. From here on it’s an early version of spring training, as the Mets will be holding auditions for the 2010 season. But hang in there, folks, and buy tickets — the Carloses are returning any week now!

Speaking of 2010, San Diego has some intriguing youngsters to build on for the future. Clayton Richard reminds me a bit of Cole Hamels, and they have some potent bats in Chase Headley and Will Venable. Everth Cabrera looks like a young Jose Reyes with his speed and fielding ability — though I’d like to see him dive for more balls. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team compete again within 2-3 years.

Next Mets Game

The second game of the series will be played at 10:05 PM on Friday night. Oliver Perez hurls against his old team while Kevin Correia pitches for the Padres.

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