Tag: bobby parnell

Mets Game 115: Win Over Giants

Mets 3 Giants 0

Admiral Farragut once said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Bobby Parnell produced six stellar innings of 3-hit, shutout baseball, and the bullpen held up their end of the bargain to lead the Mets to their second straight victory.

Angel Pagan redeemed himself with a leadoff homerun in the first frame to give the Mets the only run they’d need. Though, the offense was in a particularly giving mood, providing two extra scores via the legs of Luis Castillo.

On-fire Frankie Fantastic earned his second save in as many games.

Notes

Parnell pitched very well, there’s no denying it. But you know I have to find something wrong with his outing, and it’s the pitch count. I am completely amazed that not one member of the media has made a peep about the Mets’ decision to push Parnell from an average of 15 pitches a game to an 85-pitch “limit” over the course of two weeks. Is this not the same New York media that was up in arms when the Yankees transitioned Joba Chamberlain from bullpen to rotation in a similar fashion?

The difference is that Chamberlain had been used very judiciously out of the bullpen for the first two months of the season — pitching on back-to-back days only twice. In contrast, Parnell has been used as a relief pitcher through the first 100 games of the season, in 53 appearances. His usage includes back-to-back days as well as three consecutive days — something he’d never done before in his life.

I will keep harping on this subject until someone takes notice. Bobby Parnell may be one of the few shining stars in the Mets’ future, but only if he is healthy.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the Giants again at 4:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Johan Santana faces Matt Cain.

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The REAL Bobby Parnell

parnell-grandma
No, there is no such Twitter account as bobbyparnell_thereal (yet).

It turns out that MLB Networks used a photo of someone else to promote Bobby Parnell’s start tonight … and the person who caught the error was none other than Bobby’s grandma, Patricia Schwan.

Further, Mrs. Schwan sent this photo of her and Bobby to the network — perhaps so they’d know what he looks like for the next time. And, at 6:35 PM tonight, she will join MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, Dave Valle & Clint Hurdle live on MLB Tonight to apologize, show her the new photo of Parnell and to talk about her grandson.

One can only hope that Jerry Manuel knows what Bobby Parnell looks like. It would be quite a disaster if, say, he told bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello to take the mound.

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Mets Game 110: Loss to Padres

Padres 3 Mets 1

Bobby Parnell started his first MLB game, but fell far short of finishing it. In fact, he couldn’t finish the third inning.

Parnell allowed two runs on four hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, but it felt a lot longer and a lot worse than that. In some ways, the game as a whole resembled a Steve Trachsel episode — it just dragged on and on. And on.

Parnell’s outing would not have been so bad if the Mets mounted a rally at any point in the contest. But, like the evening previous, they shot their load in the first frame — scoring all of one run, on an improbable homer by Alex Cora. The Mets mustered only five hits all night, with Cora’s aberration the only extra-base effort.

Remarkably it could’ve been worse, as the Padres left 13 men on base. The Mets were lucky it was a two-run game.

Oh, and to twist that knife just a bit more … Heath Bell — last night’s winning pitcher — earned his 28th save. For those counting, that’s four more than Frankie Rodriguez. And the Padres have only 47 wins all year.

Notes

Parnell threw a total of 68 pitches, two shy of his “limit” of 70 — and double the amount he pitched on any one day previously this season. I remain absolutely stunned that an organization with so few personnel as talented and youthful as Parnell can be so incredibly irresponsible.

But it gets better. According to Jerry Manuel during the SNY postgame, Parnell is expected to go to 85 PITCHES in his next start !!! Who is the genius making these illogical decisions?

Heck, why not make K-Rod a starter? He should be able to hurl a good 75-80 pitches. And he’s not getting many save opportunities, so it will be a great way to get him work. And like Parnell, Frankie Fantastic was a starter in the minors, so he can do it.

BTW, people made fun of me when I joked about “reversing the game” in a post at MetsBlog last year. But with this game the Mets have executed it. Is it any surprise a joke became reality in this comedy of errors we call the Mets’ season?

The Mets are now 51-59. They have not been 8 games under .500 since 2004 — in the days when Art Howe “lit up a room”.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the four-game series will be played at 4:05 PM on Sunday afternoon. Johan Santana goes to the mound against former Saratoga Springs prep star Tim Stauffer.

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Bobby Parnell’s Pitch Count

Excuse me for the late notice … I haven’t been paying attention the way I should.

So it just registered with me that Bobby Parnell “will be limited to 60-70 pitches during his outing” — at least, that’s what’s being reported on MetsBlog (and I’m sure it is correct information).

Great. Except, one thing: Bobby Parnell has NOT THROWN MORE THAN 33 PITCHES in any one outing all season.

Is anyone else seeing the problem I’m seeing? Am I nuts, or is it a little crazy to suddenly double his highest pitch count of the season? To come up with a “limit” that is FIVE TIMES HIS AVERAGE PITCH COUNT per outing this year?

Yes, folks, five times. Parnell has tossed a total of 817 pitches in 54 games. We know my math stinks so I used a calculator — but you can double-check in case my fat fingers affected the result.

As for “stretching him out”, go to the stats and check the game logs. Parnell threw 30 pitches on August 5th; 33 on August 3rd; 21 on August 1st; and 34 on July 30th (he pitched in both ends of a doubleheader). So, roughly 30 pitches every other day, then all of a sudden — WHAM! — his limit is 70.

May I add that Parnell seemed slightly surprised that he was getting a start when originally speaking to reporters the other day — so I’m guessing he wasn’t augmenting his in-game counts with extra side sessions. Though, he could be a really good actor.

Again, I must bring up the painstaking care and attention the Yankees paid to their young fireballer Joba Chamberlain, during his transition to the starting rotation. Either the Yankees were being unbelievably cautious, or the Mets are being incredibly irresponsible. No one can say for sure, but one look at the way the Mets have handled the physical condition of their players over the last few seasons is enough to make me skeptical.

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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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What’s Wrong with Bobby Parnell

b-parnell-backHe looked lights out for the first two months of the season, and thrilled us with his triple-digit radar gun readings. But lately, Bobby Parnell has been ineffective — what’s wrong?

As is often the case, there is no one clear-cut answer. But I do have a multi-pronged theory.

Bullpen Routine

The most obvious issue is that Bobby Parnell has never been in the bullpen in the pros before, so he’s not used to the reliever’s routine — mentally nor physically. Since joining the Mets organization in 2005, Parnell has been a starting pitcher, throwing in a game once every five days (with a pitch count) and adhering to a strict program in between starts.

Now, he is expected to be ready every day, which is vastly different in regard to both physical and mental preparation. It’s not unlike going from being a marathon runner to a sprinter. Consider this: through the first 67 games of 2009, Parnell has appeared in 36 ballgames. Last year, while jumping from AA to AAA to the MLB, he appeared in 37 games ALL SEASON. In 2007, Parnell pitched in a total of 29 games, all as a starter. It’s safe to suggest that part of Parnell’s problem right now is being unaccustomed to the daily rigors of a big league relief pitcher.

Secondary Pitch

The next issue affecting Parnell’s performance is his lack of a legitimate secondary pitch. His slider has potential, but is inconsistent, cannot be thrown for a strike, and is 10-15 MPH slower than his fastball. The difference in speed is a problem because it gives batters time to realize what’s coming, and they can lay off of it. Further, batters can wait for a fastball and tee off on it, especially after Parnell misses with the slider once or twice in row. It’s pretty easy for a Major Leaguer to hit the ball hard if he knows what’s coming.

Location and Movement

When Bobby Parnell was developing as a starting pitcher, he relied on a sinking fastball thrown to specific locations in the strike zone. I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to guess he used a two-seam grip, which provides the sink and some lateral movement. Generally speaking, a two-seam fastball has more movement, but a little less velocity than a four-seam fastball. I’m going to make another guess, which is that Parnell is hitting the high-90s and 100 MPH using a four-seam grip, which usually offers much less lateral movement and no sink at all (it’s why infielders and outfielders use a four-seam grip — so their throws are accurate and “true” / go in a straight line toward the intended target).

I’m going to go one more step with my theory, and say that Parnell throws his two-seam / sinking fastball to a specific location, but rears back and throws his four-seamer in the general direction of home plate. As a result, the four-seamer has lots of velocity, but is staying too “true” and is too close to the center of the plate. Hitters may have a hard time getting their bat on a 98-100 MPH fastball even if it’s over the heart of the plate, but eventually, an MLBer will catch up to it — and they are. Add in the previous point about the batter knowing what’s coming, and it’s no surprise that Parnell is getting lit up lately.

The Solution

It’s difficult if not impossible to develop a consistent offspeed / breaking pitch at the MLB level — just ask Mike Pelfrey, who has been developing secondary pitches “on the job” for the past three years. So although one solution is for Parnell to “learn another pitch”, that’s easier said than done.

The second possibility is for Parnell to go back to using his two-seamer more often, to set up the triple-digit heater. But here’s the problem: one of the reasons Parnell was not progressing quickly enough as a starter was his inability to spot his fastball consistently. He is throwing the two-seamer/sinker on occasion here in the bigs, but it “runs” (moves laterally) a bit too much, veering out of the strike zone. Additionally, it’s “only” about 91-93 MPH, so if it doesn’t sink or run, it’s really easy to hit.

Bottom line is this: Bobby Parnell is, right now, a AA starter who needs more time to develop command of his fastball and an offspeed pitch. But, because the Mets were so excited at his velocity, they rushed him to the big league bullpen. After a bit of success, there are now much bigger expectations of him as a future setup man and possibly a closer.

One may wonder why the Mets were so eager to put Parnell’s electric arm in the bullpen, when they already had Brian Stokes. Stokes also throws a straight 96-97 MPH fastball, but he can mix in three secondary pitches (they’re mediocre at best, but they’re better than what Parnell has in his limited repertoire). Could it be part of the organization’s initiative to prove everyone wrong who criticized their farm system? Did they throw Parnell into the fire before he was ready simply to prove their player development is better than what the scouting reports state? A similar move to anointing Dan Murphy the everyday left fielder on the second day of spring training? We can only wonder.

Whatever the case, the point is, the Bobby Parnell experiment should be put on hold. The kid needs to go down to AAA or AA and hone his craft. When he develops either better location of his fastballs, or a legit secondary pitch, he’ll undoubtedly be a lights-out reliever again, with a bright future. Otherwise, expect more of what you’ve seen the past two weeks, while Parnell learns on the job.

(Hat tip to loyal MetsToday reader “sincekindergarten” who wrote an email to me inspiring this post)

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