Browsing Archive November, 2010

Wally Knows Homerun Hitting

In the spirit of the old Nike commercials featuring Bo Jackson, I present to you a short series of “Wally Knows …” video clips demonstrating the baseball knowledge of Mets managerial candidate Wally Backman.

First up: Wally Knows Homerun Hitting … surprising, isn’t it, for someone who is supposedly a “small-ball, bunt-happy manager” ?

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Melvin and Jauss Begin the Proceedings

According to the REAL Sandy Alderson on Twitter, the first two candidates to be interviewed for manager of the 2011 Mets are Bob Melvin and Dave Jauss.

Excuse me if my heart rate drops rather than races at the hearing of this news; I’m human, after all.

Remarkably, I have not been invited to participate in the evaluation proceedings — so I won’t have the benefit of the interview process. But, I’ll provide my analysis as best I can with the facts available to me.

Melvin, of course, is

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2010 Analysis: Bobby Parnell

During the spring of 2010, Robert Parnell was the backup to the backup to the backup (and possibly to the backup) setup man. The Mets had figured on Kelvim Escobar as the 8th inning guy (before learning the only object he could firmly hold in his hand was a pen to sign a $1.25M contract), but also imported flamethrower Ryota Igarashi just in case Escobar couldn’t grip a baseball, counted on Sean Green as a third alternative, and signed Kiko Calero as their “just in case” setup man – with Parnell penciled in as the “if all else fails” option.

As it was, the Mets quickly found their way to “all else fails”, and Parnell was not quite up to the task. The hard-throwing righty didn’t even make the Opening Day roster, despite showing flashes of brilliance as a late-inning reliever and late-season starter in 2009 (sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Can you say “Jenrry Mejia”?). He began the season in AAA Buffalo, posting a fat 4.14 ERA but an acceptable 1.28 WHIP and impressive 42 Ks in 41 IP through 24 games. He made his first 2010 MLB appearance in a laugher against the Tigers on June 23rd, throwing high heat but requiring 21 pitches to get 3 outs with an 8-run lead. He finished the season with a shiny 2.83 ERA and 33 Ks in 35 IP but allowed a disturbing 41 hits – a concerning issue for someone who can touch triple digits. Without doubt, Parnell was much better at finding the strike zone in his sophomore season than he was as a rookie, but he was also much more hittable. His biggest problem was that when his fastball ran into the upper 90s, it lacked movement; it was as straight as an arrow, reminiscent of the early days of Heath Bell. Unlike Heath Bell, Parnell had no secondary pitches to fall back on, other than an inconsistent slider that looked hellacious once in every ten tries, but was flat and fat in around 60 to 70% of the time.

2011 Projection

Bobby Parnell has a gift that few on this planet own: the ability to reach triple digits on the radar gun. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not a guarantee of success – particularly if it a) lacks movement; b) cannot be controlled; and c) has no consistent complementary pitch to keep hitters guessing.

Does that mean the Mets should give up on Parnell? Absolutely not. In the past, the Mets made egregious errors in trading away similarly gifted flamethrowers such as Bell, Matt Lindstrom, and Henry Owens. The bottom line is that young men who throw 100-MPH fastballs do not grow on trees, and if you have one who can come close to the plate the majority of the time, you hold on to him for as long as you can in the hopes that he’ll eventually “figure it out”. Parnell may never “figure it out”, but if he does, the Mets will have an electrifying reliever with dominant closer potential – a type of reliever you might compare to Brad Lidge or John Wetteland. At the very worst, he’ll be on the level of Lindstrom / Owens, which is still a valuable asset in any MLB bullpen.

Read the 2009 Analysis of Bobby Parnell

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2010 Analysis: Jon Niese

Young lefthander Jonathon Niese made great strides in 2010, emerging as a capable MLB pitcher with mental toughness and competitive fire.

His final numbers didn’t fully tell the story; he posted a 9-10 record with a 4.20 ERA, 148 Ks, 64 BB, and 192 hits in 30 starts covering 173 innings – pretty ho-hum and not necessarily indicative of a star on the rise. But in truth, Niese probably wasn’t ready to pitch a full season at the MLB level after missing the second half of 2009 and winter ball with a torn hamstring.

At times, Niese was spectacular – for example, his one-hit shutout of the Padres in Game 60. At other times, he looked overmatched, struggling to find the strike zone and getting hit hard when he did. Over the course of the season, his performance was uneven, mainly due to his occasional overuse of the cutter (which is actually a slider), which in turn was partially the cause for inconsistency with his mechanics and arm angle.

Niese’s fastball didn’t have enough movement to rely on heavily against MLB hitters, so the “quick fix” was to

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Wally Backman: Tea Party Candidate?

Being that it’s Election Day and all, I wonder if the next Mets manager could be based on the results of a vote by the people?

Of course this is a fantasy, but hypothetically speaking, who would be the candidates in such an election, and what parties would they represent?

Bob Melvin: Republican, conservative
He’ll stay the course, and dutifully follow the orders set forth by the right-wing lobbyists / upper middle class.

Ken Macha: Democrat, liberal
He’ll also stay the course, but appeal to the left-wing lobbyists / lower middle class.

Bobby Valentine: write-in candidate

He doesn’t consider himself a candidate, but openly lobbies for the job (this is different from Adam Rubin lobby for job) without a party endorsement.

Joe Lieberman: Lieberman Party
Who else is qualified to run as the Lieberman Party candidate? There are a bunch of Mets fans in Connecticut.

Clint Hurdle: Christian Right / Christian Coalition
He will make sure Mets players uphold the virtues set forth by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Chip Hale: Reform Party
Endorsed by Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura, Hale symbolizes the party’s core belief in centrism.


Tim Teufel: Constitution Party

They couldn’t convince Pat Buchanan to join the ranks, but Tim Teufel would seem a more feasible party leader.


Joe McEwing: Green Party

Ralph Nader became famous after writing the book Unsafe At Any Speed. Similarly, Super Joe’s career 62% basestealing percentage (33 SB, 20 CS) made him unsafe at any speed.

Ken Oberkfell: Worker’s Party
The symbol of the working man, Oberkfell embodies the party’s fundamental vision that all men have a right to a secure job.
Wally Backman: Boston Tea Party
The Tea Partyers long for the the way things were in the 1980s, and tap into the majority’s anger with the two-party system. Like most Tea Party candidates, he is a darkhorse, but on everyone’s radar.

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2010 Analysis: Pat Misch

It was deja vu all over again for the Poor Man’s Tom Glavine.

At the tail end of 2009, with the Mets’ pitching staff ravaged by injuries, Misch came up from AAA to admirably fill in a spot at the back end of the rotation – including tossing a complete-game shutout in Game 156.

His strong work down the stretch wasn’t enough to earn him a rotation spot in 2010, however – not with future All-Stars such as John Maine and Oliver Perez on the roster – and so it was back to Buffalo for the soft-tossing lefty.

Fast-forward to September 2010, and once again Pat Misch was promoted to make spot starts in a rotation that was beset by injuries. While Misch didn’t pitch quite as well as he did 12 months previous – nor as regularly – he did pitch about as well as one could expect from a back-end starter.

Misch started 6 games in 2010, going 0-4 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out 21 and walking only 4 in 33 innings. His best outing came against the Nationals in Game 160, when he allowed 3 hits and one run in 8 innings, striking out 10 in a no-decision. He’s not the most exciting or dominating pitcher, and he doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but he does throw a ton of strikes – his strategy is the currently unfashionable “pitch to contact” (which worked well for a few starters up in Minnesota).

As he did in 2009, manager Jerry Manuel felt compelled to use Pat Misch occasionally as a “matchup” guy out of the bullpen in lefty-lefty situations – despite the fact that Misch has been significantly worse against left-handed batters.

2011 Projection

As with last year’s evaluation, it’s hard to believe that Misch’s September performance was enough to earn a guaranteed MLB contract in 2011 – but, again, I think it behooves the Mets to try to re-sign him to a AAA deal. I don’t believe he’ll turn into the next Glavine or Jamie Moyer, but you have to like his strike-throwing ability – which holds more value in a cavernous pitcher’s park such as Citi Field. While he won’t ever win a Cy Young, it’s plausible that he could fill a back-end spot over an extended period and not embarrass himself. The Mets need all the pitching depth they can find, and Misch’s presence in Buffalo won’t stunt the development of any rising prospects.

Click here to read the 2009 Analysis of Pat Misch

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2010 Analysis: Jenrry Mejia

20-year-old Jenrry Mejia was the youngest pitcher to toe the rubber as a New York Met since Dwight Gooden in 1984. Mejia’s blazing fastball, cool composure, and speck of cockiness impressed manager Jerry Manuel much the same way Gooden struck Davey Johnson 25 years before. Manuel, like Johnson, begged and pleaded to allow the front office to bring the flamethrower North at the close of spring training. Also like Johnson, Manuel got his wish.

Unlike Johnson, however, Manuel was

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