Tag: bobby parnell

Mets were in on Grant Balfour

After the Tampa Bay Rays reportedly inked relief ace Grant Balfour, baseball insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted this:

So, Sandy Alderson was interested in bolstering his bullpen with a veteran arm – we knew that. We just thought it would be someone like a David Aardsma or Joel Hanrahan, not an established closer like Balfour.

Speaking of closing, would Balfour have closed for the Mets or set up Bobby Parnell? Seems like the team would have wanted him as insurance in case Parnell wasn’t ready for Opening Day. And if Parnell was, Balfour would have handled the eighth inning.

I wonder if Balfour also took that into account when making his decision – I’m sure he wants to remain a closer.

It’s also interesting that the Mets were willing to spend more than $6 million AAV on a two-year deal. That suggests that they still have money to spend, despite the fact that they appear to be at or nearing their rumored payroll limit.

Perhaps they’ll spend that money on another reliever or two, or maybe (dare I say) Stephen Drew. The free agent shortstop seems to be less and less in demand, which should drive down his price. If he and his agent, Scott Boras, get desperate enough, they may even settle for a one-year deal.

Regardless, it sounds like the Mets are not done spending just yet.


Bobby Parnell Cleared to Pitch

According to Adam Rubin, Mets closer Bobby Parnell has been cleared to pitch:

New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell, who underwent Sept. 10 surgery in California for a herniated disk in his neck, has been fully cleared for baseball activities.

After attending David Wright‘s wedding, Parnell stayed on the West Coast to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, who had performed the procedure.

Watkins cleared Parnell for full baseball activities. Parnell is expected to resume closing games for the Mets this season. He converted 22 of 26 chances last season.

“He looked terrific — toned, strong, limber,” said one person who recently saw Parnell.

Parnell had lost roughly 30 pounds while dealing with the herniated disk.

This is a key development for the Mets bullpen. The back end of the bullpen would be a huge question mark if Parnell were not ready for Opening Day. They’d have to figure out who would close, and who would handle the eighth inning. If Parnell is ready, the concern then shifts to who sets him up, which is less of a problem – but still an important one.

Right now, Vic Black, who has 18 major league appearances under his belt, looks like the front runner for the eighth inning role. The team is also looking to acquire a veteran to possibly fill that role (someone like LaTroy Hawkins – but he’s in Denver now).

LHP Josh Edgin, LHP Scott Rice, RHP Carlos Torres, RHP Jeurys Familia, and RHP Gonzalez Germen are leading candidates to round out the bullpen in 2014. Newly acquired RHP Ryan Reid may also be in the conversation along with minor league lefty Jack Leathersitch and RHP Jeff Walters.


Free Agent Targets: Relief Pitchers

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at starting pitchers. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

Relief Pitchers

The Mets bullpen had another poor season statistically in 2013, but a lot of their failure came from a few sources, like Brandon Lyon, Rob Carson, Greg Burke, and Josh Edgin (during his first stint in the majors).


Link Roundup: Trade Deadline, Wheeler Strong

The non-waiver trade deadline is scheduled to hit at 4 PM EDT today. To quote Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” For the Mets, the deadline will likely whoosh by without any trades being made.

The Mets are in a delicate situation. Some pieces of the future puzzle have begun to fall in place, particularly on the mound. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and closer Bobby Parnell would be valuable pieces of a 2014 team that, with a couple of offensive upgrades, could contend for a Wild Card spot. Conventional wisdom states that they’ll have about $40 million more dollars to play with during the offseason, which should make them players in the free agent market for the first time in the post-Madoff era.

Given that train of thought, a complete sell-off doesn’t make sense. The Mets have been gauging interest in players like Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy, and Parnell. The Mets don’t feel they can get a top prospect for Byrd, and Parnell, like most relief pitchers, just wouldn’t net a lot of value in return. For instance, the Houston Astros got a minor league outfielder who projects to be a fourth outfielder at best in the majors.

Parnell’s having a career year, despite the fact that his strikeouts are down (7.9 K/9) and his BABIP is low (.258), which could either mean he’s a little lucky, or he’s really keeping hitters off-balance, or both. Some of the ground balls he’s getting could start finding holes. If he does regress, I doubt if it will be that much.

Last night, Zack Wheeler threw strikes, got ahead of hitters, and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He lost the no-no and the lead in that frame, but the Mets got out of their own way long enough to score 2 runs in the 10th pull out a win against the mighty (against us, anyway) Marlins. But are the Mets messing with his mechanics too much? Also, check out this Chad Qualls celebration fail.

In other news, organizational cancer Frank Francisco advised Jenrry Mejia to stay in Port St. Lucie and collect his money instead of returning to the majors, just like his ol’ pal Frankie! It will be such a relief when Francisco’s contract runs out, and he’s as far away from the Mets franchise as possible.

And finally, for no particular reason, here’s Nino Espinosa.



Backing Up The Truck: Six Tradeable Mets

This always happens around Labor Day with sub-500 baseball teams. Having realized that the current season is a lost cause, the hardcore fans join the team scribes, broadcasters and even some front office types in the therapeutic process of speculating about next year’s roster. Therapy started a bit early for the Mets this year, when GM Sandy Alderson appeared on the Mike’s On radio show in late August and clearly stated that major changes are coming to the 2013 team. He added that most of the changes would come via the trade market. This fueled a wave of speculation in the blogosphere, which soon reached the so-called mainstream media, culminating in last weekend’s Joel Sherman NYP article recommending trades of David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese.

While I agree with Alderson that the time for change has come, I reject Sherman’s notion that the Mets could trade Wright or Dickey for some blue chippers that could be plugged right into the lineup and return the team to respectability. Think about some of the deals made in the last five years involving big name players and what shape the teams that surrendered those players are in now. Since 2008, Texas, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Toronto, San Diego, Oakland, Houston and Minnesota have all unloaded star players for bushels of minor leaguers. With the exception of Texas and possibly Oakland, none of these teams will see the 2012 post season and most of them will likely finish with a record just as bad (if not worse) than the Mets this year.

It’s no secret that the Mets need to strengthen ¾ of their up the middle defense, jump start their offense by adding both speed and right-handed power, and acquire at least two reliable relief pitchers. That’s a tall order. Extracting a Wright or a Dickey from the roster only makes more work. So not only should the Mets retain Wright and Dickey, they need to work on extending them both before Spring Training.

If Wright and Dickey are the “Elite Mets”, then Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada fall into the category of “Successful Mets,” a group of players whose 2012 production cannot be replaced with an-house option. It’s not unreasonable to expect that the best from Ike and Rueben is yet to come. I would also put Niese in this category, as well as Matt Harvey. If I’m Alderson, I would hold out a king’s ransom in any trade that involves those aforementioned six players as well as minor leaguers Zack Wheeler, Michael Fulmer or Brandon Nimmo. So I don’t expect any blockbuster deals.

On the flip side, I don’t think the Mets could even give away Frank Francisco, Jason Bay or Johan Santana, let alone get anything of value in return. They also have no leverage with Chris Young, Scott Hairston, Kelly Shoppach, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Andres Torres and Mike Pelfrey, as they all have expiring contracts. I suspect Shoppach gets a nice contract extension to stay here and it isn’t too farfetched to suppose that Josh Edgin and Robert Carson are already penciled in as the bullpen LOOGYs. Rauch and Hairston might also be approached about a return.

So who’s left to trade? Surprisingly, for a team that has fallen as far and as fast as the Mets have, there are a few intriguing names. The challenge facing the brain trust is not only deciding on how accurate the 2012 performance is as a barometer of future results, but also exactly what metrics to use when making those measurements. Dreamt up trade proposals in which my team trades garbage for your team’s treasure are beneath this site and its readers. It is possible however, to have an intelligent discussion on just what the Mets realistically have to offer other teams. I would be very surprised if any more than two are moved. In other words, I didn’t believe Alderson when he talked with Jeter Booster Mike. That aside, here is my speculation on who is available, ranked in order of my perceived value:

1.Dillon Gee: In retrospect, Gee’s injury was the first major crack in the façade of the 2012 season. He may never be a top of the rotation starter, but he has shown long stretches of serviceability and could have a long and useful role in a contending team’s rotation. The injury that ended his season shouldn’t scare off teams as there was no apparent structure damage from the clot. I think he will have better seasons, but I wonder just how high his ceiling is.

2.Jennry Mejia or Jeurys Familia: Two enigmas, but also good reasons to pay attention to the Mets this September. Each has a good arm and can either relieve or start. Both have minor league numbers that are good, but not great. It may be a case of offering them separately around both leagues and taking the best package in return for one of them, with the other heading to the 2013 bullpen. One of them for Peter Bourjos perhaps? (Sorry– can’t resist).

3.Bobby Parnell: Looking at the glass as half full, the Mets do have some interesting arms to dangle. I love the fact that Parnell can throw as hard as he does and fear that once he escapes Dan Warthen, he will blossom into the shutdown reliever many of us thought he always would. But we have been waiting on Bobby to take the next step for four seasons now. Is he being poorly mentored/utilized or does he lack the necessary elements to be a consistently successful relief pitcher? He is heading for arbitration this year so it will now cost more to find out. I believe the latter fact makes both Parnell and Daniel Murphy, who is also arbi-eligible, near locks to be moved this offseason.

4.Daniel Murphy: Wasn’t it Branch Rickey who said he always wanted to move a player a year too soon rather than a year too late? In retrospect, Alderson should have made the trade rumored in 2011 with Detroit involving Murphy for outfielder Andy Dirks. I like Daniel, but I now think the time has come to move him. This winter, Alderson should go back to the Padres and ask if their offer of reliever Luke Gregerson for Murphy still stands. Gregerson would certainly be an improvement over anything the Mets have in the bullpen now. The Mets also have several potential replacements for Murphy in Wilmer Flores, Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner, although either Wilmer and Jordany could be a blog post all by himself. There is always the possibility that the Flores/Jordany market heats up this winter, meaning one or both of them go and Murphy stays. Boy, being GM is complicated!

5.Lucas Duda: I almost put Jeremy Hefner on this list instead. Duda’s power potential is definitely there, but that may take a few years to develop. He also looks overmatched in the outfield, either at left or right. I could see Lucas being dealt for what he one day might become, a slow footed outfielder, one capable of hitting 20-25 homers. In a less imperfect world, this outfielder also hits right-handed.

This is a key offseason for the Mets; decisions made in the next few months could very well impact the direction of the franchise for the rest of the decade. Time for Sandy to earn his salary, don’t you think?


Mailbag: The Difference Between Bobby Parnell and Craig Kimbrel

From the MetsToday email inbox, a reader writes:

Hi Joe,
As a Met fan displaced in North Carolina, I very much enjoy reading your insights into the club, so please continue the good work.

I wonder if you might provide your thoughts on Bobby Parnell. His inconsistency has been frustrating to say the least. His stuff is great (upper 90s fastball and a hard late-breaking slider, + other off-speed stuff) and it resembles the repertoire of Atlanta’s Kimbrel (but without the success). What my fellow Met fans down here and I can’t understand is why the Met coaches insist on having him locate his fastball ‘down in the zone’. I’ve read them say this several times in the past couple of seasons. It’s clear from watching him pitch that his fastball is essentially a straight pitch when he throws it at the knees, taking away any tailing action he gets when it’s above the belt. Hitters simply drop the bat on these pitches and he gives up more hard hit singles through the infield than any pitcher I’ve seen in a some time. If you look up all of his blown saves (or blown holds), they invariably include several ground ball singles that get through because they are hit so hard. Given the difficulty in hitting an upper-90s fastball when it’s above the belt, why isn’t he using his velocity more to his advantage? And why are Mets coaches insisting he keep the ball down? All of the good closers of the past 30 years that had his kind of velocity (e.g., Gossage, Lee Smith, Papelbon, etc.) have lived up in the zone with their fastballs. What are the Met coaches thinking? Our fear is that they are ruining him (both from a pitching and psychological standpoint) and that he will end up on another team where they will get him doing what he should and he will come back to haunt the Mets. Thanks for any insights you have on this.


Fred, thank you so much for the kind words, and for visiting MetsToday.

I share your observations of, and concerns for, Bobby Parnell. His inability to convert his God-given talent into success is maddening. Are the Mets coaches / organizational pitching philosophy to blame?