How much longer will the Mets wait for Manny Acosta?
Tag: manny acosta
Unsurprisingly, Manny Acosta has been designated for assignment, which means he can’t pour gasoline on fires in Flushing for at least a week. There is a possibility, however, that he brings his Fahrenheit 451-style fireman skills to Buffalo. But let’s not think about that for now.
Yes, we’ve been screaming for Acosta’s removal since late April (some wondered how he made it to spring training in the first place), but now that the symptom has been treated, the Mets have to find a cure for the actual sickness.
Happy New Year everyone! With the holidays now in the rear view mirror and me now settling down into my new job, it’s time to take look ahead to what 2012 might hold in store for the New York Mets.
Like most of us, I have very low expectations for the team this year. Team finances aside, the starting rotation is mediocre at best, there are several defensive liabilities in the projected starting eight, the bench is horrible, there is little speed on the current roster and they play in a tough division. Still, I will watch as many Mets games as I can this year. Now that I have a steady income again, I may even make the pilgrimage from my home in Bethlehem to Citi Field to take in a game or two. I know that there is no postseason in store for the Mets in 2012, but I can think of at least seven reasons to pay attention to the team this year:
Remember when Bobby Parnell was a young fireballer who looked like he might be the Mets’ closer of the future? We figured he’d take a career path similar to that of J.J. Putz, Brad Lidge, or Jonathan Broxton: he’d eventually harness that heat, spend a year or two as a lights-out setup man, then step in as a 35-40-save fireman.
Unfortunately, Parnell has yet to evolve into a reliable setup man; in fact, it’s still questionable whether he can be relied upon to protect a close lead as a middle reliever.
Sure, he has that eye-popping 9.7 Ks per nine innings, and he frequently flirts with triple digits on the radar gun. But pitchers who throw 100 MPH shouldn’t be allowing more than a hit per inning, and Parnell’s walk rate nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011 — jumping from 2.1 BB/9 to 4.1. A late-inning reliever expected to protect a slim lead simply cannot allow that many baserunners.
Though Parnell did show flashes of brilliance as a setup man, and he did convert 6 saves in his brief audition as closer, the jury is still out as to whether he can sustain success over a 162-game season. His lapses in command are maddening, and he has yet to develop a reliable secondary pitch. At times, his slider has that vintage Lidge look, but those times are few and far between; usually, Parnell chokes the pitch and buries in the dirt far from the plate — or, he releases it too early, leaving it in the middle of the strike zone while “speeding up” the hitter’s swing.
Maybe I’m evaluating Parnell too harshly, but whit his velocity and ability to get the ball into the strike zone, it is agonizing to see him take a step back at time in his career when he should be taking steps forward.
Parnell failed his closer audition — and in fact, fell below Manny Acosta on the totem pole by season’s end. If that’s not a wake-up call I’m not sure what is.
Guess what, folks: Bobby Parnell is no longer a young phenom — he turned 27 in September and will be 28 by the end of 2012. Sure, some pitchers are “late bloomers” but generally speaking, if a guy throws 100 MPH and doesn’t figure it out by now, he’s not likely to figure it out. For one, velocity tends to start reducing as a pitcher inches toward and passes age 30 — and once Parnell loses his other-worldly fastball speed he has nothing else to offer. That’s not to say it’s too late for him to “figure it out”, nor that the Mets should give up on him. On the contrary, if Parnell can simply command his slider 7 out of every 10 times (instead of 4 or 5 times) he takes the mound, he’ll immediately become a decent closer for a second-division team (such as the 2012 Mets). Will that happen? Hard to say — it all depends on whether he can find the correct timing of his release, and that’s easier said than done.
The roller coaster continues for Manny Acosta, whose MLB career has consistently been inconsistent.
Armed with a fastball that rides above 95 MPH with occasional tailing action and average breaking stuff, Acosta has a tool set that should translate to success in a relief role. But he is one of that strange breed of pitchers who are streaky; he can pitch well for brief periods, then falter into maddening bouts of ineptitude. Part of it could be due to mechanical issues, but insiders believe it’s more of a mental and emotional issue. In other words, Manny Acosta’s performance is directly tied to his confidence level, which is about as steady and predictable as early spring weather in Flushing.
Acosta began the season in the Buffalo Bisons bullpen but made it back to MLB in early June. His 2011 MLB season was very much like 2010 — uneven and marked by strings of strong outings that may or may not have outweighed the bad ones. His overall stats were a little worse in comparison to ’10, with his ERA jumping a half-run (2.95 to 3.45), a raised WHIP (1.21 to 1.38), and a lower strikeout rate (9.53 K/9 to 8.81). One thing he did improve was his walk rate, which was reduced from 4.1 BB/9 in 2010 to 2.9 BB/9 in 2011. But, opposing hitters took advantage of more pitches to hit, as batters hit for a higher average (.219 in ’10 to .269 in ’11), with more power (slugging percentage jumped over 100 points, from .328 to .430); batters increased their OPS against him from .636 in ’10 to .759 in ’11. Acosta allowed 9.6 hits per nine innings in 2011, compared to 6.8 in 2010. Finally, he allowed 7 of 17 inherited runners to score, or 41% — that’s bad (the league average is 30%).
Overall, Manny Acosta was worse in 2011 than he was in 2010. Yet, in 2012 he could be given consideration as the Mets’ closer. Why? Because Acosta finished strong in September, gaining a win or save in 4 of his final 5 appearances of the season. The problem, of course, is that he could have merely been on another one of his streaks, brimming with confidence that fed itself over a two-week period. Can he keep up that confidence and performance next spring? It might be interesting to keep tabs on his outings (and biorhythms) as he pitches in the winter league. Personally, I don’t see him as a legitimate candidate to close over the course of 162 games. Maybe Acosta could fit into a St. Louis Cardinals-type situation, where the closer is whomever is the hot hand at the moment, but even then, what do you do with him when he’s not “hot”? His propensity to allow inherited runners to score makes it difficult to bring him into the middle of an inning, and his numbers could continue to worsen. Still, considering the paucity of arms in the Mets’ organization that can reach the upper 90s, the team doesn’t have much choice but to bring Acosta back in 2012 and give him a shot to win a job.
Read the 2010 Analysis of Manny Acosta
Reds 5 Mets 4
Strange … nowhere in the Mets media guide, nor in the scorebook, nor on the Mets.com website does it say “September 27: Jose Reyes Day”. Yet clearly, this was his day.
Yet it wasn’t, because the Mets lost. Which was remarkable, considering that Reds manager Dusty Baker didn’t care much about the game, his players didn’t care much about putting forth any effort, and Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero looked like he’d rather be sunbathing on a Caribbean beach with an umbrella drink by his side. A completely unsatisfying outcome for a baseball fan.
Mets 6 Phillies 3
Imagine your team losing eight straight, including getting swept in a doubleheader, and you not in the least bit concerned — because your team is two games away from 100 victories on the season? Must be nice.
Mets 2 Phillies 1
A huge win for the New York Mets, who pull to within 23 games of first place and one game closer to third with five left to play. If only Bud Selig would consider extending the season by another 30 games, the Mets would still be in it.
Enough of the sarcasm. If nothing else, at least the Mets are entertaining in this final week. We were treated with a near no-no, a dramatic comeback victory starring someone named Valentino, and to top it all off, it was the Phillies who were defeated. Oh, and there’s still another game to play! Can’t really ask for much more on a meaningless September Saturday.