Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘John Maine’

Will the 2011 Rotation Include Pat Misch?

Posted by JD on November 29, 2010

It’s starting to look like it might (at least to me, anyway). Consider the rotation as it stands today: with Johan Santana recovering from surgery to start the season, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese are the only established major league starters on the roster. In some ways, referring to this group as “established” is being kind: they each have questions to answer in 2011). Pelfrey can be solid (if unspectacular), but has been prone to extended streaks where he struggles to be average. Can he be more consistent next year? R.A. Dickey was a revelation this season, but he’s 36 and the 174 innings he pitched last season were a career high. Can he do it again? 2010 was Jon Niese’s first full season, and he’s struggled with injuries the past two season. Can he stay healthy long enough to contribute?

That being said, those three will anchor the rotation next season. John Maine has most likely played his last game with the team: I expect him to be non-tendered this week. Dillon Gee will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, as will Misch and probably Tobi Stoner. Misch is easily the most established (there’s that word again, used even more generously here) of the three, which can’t hurt. Add in Sandy Alderson’s (and Terry Collins’) comments about not wanting to rush prospects to the majors and that’s about it for in-house candidates.

There are, of course, outside candidates. Joe Janish of Mets Today put together a list of signable (read: not Cliff Lee) free agent pitchers last week, focusing on the risk/reward aspect of each. Having just returned from a trip to Atlantic City, I find some of these gambles attractive, particularly Chris Young. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing one of them to a one-year deal and hoping for the best, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve read in many places that the Mets’ off-season budget may be limited to $5 million. If that’s the case, these players may not fit in the Mets’ budget (even accounting for the discount generated by their injury histories). I mean, it could happen, but should the Mets really gamble on a pitcher with a history of injuries when their budget is so limited?

The next few days will see a number of pitchers hit free agency as the December 2nd non-tender deadline approaches. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of non-tender candidates. While there are some interesting names for the bullpen, the starting pitchers leave something to be desired. I’ve always liked Brian Bannister and he might benefit from making half his starts at Citi Field, but he’s always struggled with major league hitters and he’s been injury prone recently, too. I wouldn’t have taken a shot at Zach Duke before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, making that moot anyway. Jeff Karstens? Kyle Davies? I guess, at the right price. But it’s debatable whether their better than Misch or not.

Acquiring a starter via a trade is also a possibility. The Mets could possibly trade Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran (Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka might make some sense, I guess). Personally, I remain convinced that the Mets should refrain from trading either of those players until June, at the earliest. Their value is what it once was, but there’s still a reasonable chance that they can recapture most of it: it simply makes no sense to move them now. We’ll see.

In an effort to be fair to every candidate, I have to mention that Oliver Perez currently has a 10-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts in the Mexican Winter League. Whatever.

So, there you have it: based on the known available options (and their costs), Pat Misch will very likely be the fifth (or possibly even the fourth) starter in the rotation next year. Bill James predicts Misch’s 2011 season as: 23 games (12 starts), 75.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 50 strikeouts and 18 walks (2.78 K/BB ration) for a 4.20 ERA (4.19 FIP). Obviously, the counting numbers would be higher if Misch won the job out of spring training, but a 4.20/4.19 ERA/FIP for less than $1 million isn’t that bad. It’s less than optimal, but budget constraints make it one of the more plausible options available.

Posted in Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Offseason Moves, Oliver Perez, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Moving On

Posted by JD on November 22, 2010

It’s over, it’s done, let’s turn the page (please). Now that the Mets have named Terry Collins as their next manager (and announced that Chip Hale and Dan Warthen will remain on as the third base and pitching coaches, respectively), we can move on to a (much, much) more important matter: building a roster for 2011. There are a couple of key dates coming up:

  • November 23: Last date to offer salary arbitration. In the Mets’ case, this applies to Pedro Feliciano. Despite the fact that Feliciano can expect to be awarded a contract of about $4 million in the arbitration process, the Mets should offer it to him. Yes, rumors have swirled that the Mets’ offseason budget may be limited to $5 million, and at 35, Feliciano’s an increasing injury risk. But he is a premium left-handed reliever who would likely command a multi-year deal from another team (the Yankees are already rumored to be interested), so the odds of him accepting would seem to be slim. And if he does? Those same teams might be willing to trade for him. Either way, the Mets should be able to turn Feliciano into some sort of longer-term asset.
  • December 5: Last date to outright a player before the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is designed to prevent clubs from stockpiling talent in the minor leagues by allowing other clubs to select players who are not on the 40-man roster. The Mets have already made some moves in this area, outrighting Jesus Feliciano, Raul Valdes, Mike Hessman, Omir Santos, and Eddie Kunz, waiving Joaquin Arias, and adding Manny Alvarez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, Josh Stinson, and Armando Rodriguez. There will be other moves made, as John Maine, Luis Hernandez, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo still have roster spots.
  • December 6: The Rule 5 draft. This will be interesting. Considering their budget limitations, the Mets will probably make a few picks. I expect them to take a pitcher or two to compete for the open spots in the rotation or bullpen. It’s my goal to go through the other 29 rosters and identify a few targets before the draft but, given my recent track record, there’s a great chance it won’t happen. But I’ll give it a shot. Keep in mind that any players picked must stay on the major league roster the entire year or they get offered back to their former organization (for $25,000).

As an added bonus, there will likely be a free agent signing or three sprinkled in (though maybe not until January). We’re not going to see big signings, but we might see the next R.A. Dickey sign in the coming weeks. This is the fun part of the offseason, watching the moves that shape the roster for next year. Anything is better than watching beat reporters and fans try to read the tea leaves of a managerial search, then endlessly venting over the results (accurately depicted here). We can’t turn the page fast enough, in my opinion.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another Domino Falls

Posted by JD on June 21, 2010

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Jenrry Mejia was finally sent down to Binghamton to resume his rightful career path as a starting pitcher (Bobby Parnell will take his place in the bullpen on Tuesday). He logged 26 2/3 innings in the Mets bullpen over 29 games, including a scoreless inning (with one strikeout) in yesterday’s game against the Yankees. Even though he had a 122 ERA+ and accrued 0.3 WAR during his time in Flushing this is undoubtedly the right move: starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers, and the Mets should take the time to figure out whether Mejia has what it takes to be a successful major league starter. Kudos to Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel for finally doing the right thing.

The roster continues to evolve, and in a good way. Ne’er-do-wells Sean Green, Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, GMJ, John Maine, and Oliver Perez have either been consigned to the Disabled List or released and the Mejia demotion fits in this trend. He wasn’t exactly a liability in the bullpen but the franchise is far better served by allowing him to hone his craft as a starter in the minors instead of eating low-leverage innings in the Mets’ bullpen. We still have to deal with Alex Cora’s steady march toward a vesting option and the DL assignments are a ticking time-bomb (acutely highlighted by Maine’s recent rehab starts), but lately Minaya has been making all the right moves.

I’ll be honest: I feel weird writing that. However, the standings have forced my hand: it’s June 21 and the Mets are 2.5 games out of first place with 95 games to go, and I suppose it proves the cliche that “late” really is better than “never”. We’ll never know how much better off they would be if Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Chris Carter or Jesus Feliciano had been on the roster from day one (I suspect they’d have at least one more win, if not two or three), but in the immortal words of former Jets coach Herm Edwards, we can build on this.

What’s done is done. Cora aside, the Mets’ roster is about as about as optimized as it can be at this point. The next step is acquiring a starting pitcher at a reasonable price. If Minaya can do that without stripping the farm system the Mets should at least be able to contend for the Wild Card, which is better than I expected back in February.

***

But I digress…let’s get back to Mejia. The Eastern league plays 140 games in a season and Binghamton has already played 67 games. With 73 games left to play, I figure that Mejia can get 14 starts. If he averages seven innings in each he’ll get approximately 98 innings of work, which would leave him with a season total of 126 innings. That’s a big jump from last season’s total of 94 2/3 innings pitched. There’s some doubt as to whether the Verducci Effect is a reliable predictor of pitcher injuries, but a thirty-plus inning increase should be enough for one year. In other words, hopefully the Mets don’t call up Mejia for bullpen duty when the roster expands in September. The limited benefit would far exceed the possible risk.

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One final tangent: Mejia will make his first start on “Salute to Boy Band” Night. The sheer awesomeness of the moment is unmeasurable. That is all.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rehabbing John Maine

Posted by JD on June 13, 2010

Adam Rubin at ESPN New York reports that John Maine made a rehab start Sunday against the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA affiliate. Maine will start for Buffalo on Friday (where he will be limited to 80/90 pitches), after which he expects to be activated by the Mets.

I’m torn on this whole situation. Maine’s velocity is nowhere near what it was in years past and it doesn’t look as if the layoff helped (Rubin states that he was in the 87-88 range in Trenton), but he’s due for some improvement no matter how hard he’s throwing. Though his hits per nine innings (10.7) is by far the highest mark of his career, it’s partially due to bad luck: his BAbip Against is about .80 points higher than his career average. His BB/9 ratio is well above his career average (5.7/4.1), so you have to figure that will come back down, but his 8.8 K/9 ratio is also a career high. If that comes down as well, it’ll make it that much harder for him to pitch effectively. I think we can expect some improvement, but at this point there’s just no reason to expect Maine to be anything but mediocre.

And it’s not just his play on the field that’s cause for concern: it’s gotten to the point where I think it’s fair to question his frame of mind. We always knew Maine was a fierce competitor (several stories of how hard he took personal failure have been published since he joined the team in 2006), but that start against the Nationals on May 20th was something altogether different. Say what you want about how Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen handled it (I think Manuel did the right thing, but Warthen handled it about as poorly as any pitching coach could), it was clear evidence of a breakdown in communication. Whatever Maine said to get the start, it didn’t reconcile with his actual performance at all. I think it indicates he has an unrealistic view of his own ability. I love confident players, but unrealistic confidence can be a killer.

I get where Maine is coming from and I expect no less from a major league pitcher. But there comes a point where false bravado rings hollow, where self-confidence can create a sense of entitlement that undermines team goals. We’re at that point now. I’ll be happy if Maine proves me wrong, but I don’t see him becoming an effective pitcher again. I hope the Mets keep him on a very short leash: their margin for error is practically nonexistent right now.

Posted in Mets, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Trust Issues

Posted by JD on May 21, 2010

After criticizing Jerry Manuel for so long on so many areas (lineup optimization, over-working mediocre relievers, keeping Jenrry Mejia on the major league roster, etc.), I was a little surprised that I agreed so strongly with him when he pulled John Maine after facing just one batter last night.

It’s not that I dislike Manuel. Far from it: he seems to be an engaging guy and even though I’ve strongly disagreed with him, I don’t question his non-baseball intelligence. It’s just that I’ve disagreed with so many of his moves this year, some of which backfired so badly (Mike Jacobs as clean-up hitter?) that they obscured the fact that he does have strengths as a manager. One of his strongest points is his ability to connect to his players, to make them want to play for him. In the big picture having the respect of the players matters far, far less than winning. But it does count for something, and last night we watched John Maine abuse it.

I’m all for players fighting to stay in the lineup, playing through injury to help the team. But the key is they have to actually help the team. When a Carlos Beltran plays with an injury, we know he’ll still produce enough to outweigh his decreased range. When a Johan Santana takes the mound with an injured arm, we know he has enough savvy and experience to maximize the pitches he can throw long enough to keep the team in the game. The only thing we know about John Maine is that for the previous two seasons he’s either been to seriously injured to pitch or too inconsistent to be counted on when healthy. He’s gotten off to a terrible start in 2010: his velocity is down and he’s struggled with his control. In short, he’s shown us nothing to indicate that he has the ability to battle through injury to help the team.

Now, I’m still unclear as to whether this was injury-related or a mechanical issue. Regardless, Maine should have told Manuel or Dan Warthen that he was having issues prior to taking the mound: at least they would have been able to plan around it (they probably would have started Valdes and mixed and matched relievers anyway). Instead, Maine took it on himself to force the issue, and it’s not a stretch to say it could have had disasterous results.

The offence, which has struggled mightly, loaded the bases for David Wright, himself dealing with issues at the plate. It felt as if a weight was lifted from their collective shoulders when he delivered an opposite-field double to clear the bases. Could you imagine what that clubhouse would have felt like had Maine given it all back in the bottom of the inning? To his credit, Manuel recognized it immediately and didn’t hesitate to yank Maine out of there. Maine displayed the immaturity of an eight year old argue with Manuel and Warthen on the mound, and Jerry (again, to his credit) was having none of it. When Maine tried to engage Manuel in the dugout, Jerry tore into him.

That’s something that I’d never seen before. No matter how displeased he’s been with a player, Manuel usually handles that kind of thing behind closed doors (another reason why a lot of players trust him). Last night, Jerry couldn’t conceal his disgust for Maine and when Maine made the mistake of approaching him in the dugout, Manuel dressed him down in front of the SNY cameras.

Maybe you’ll disagree with me. Maybe you feel that Manuel handled the situation poorly, that he (or Warthen) should have recognized that Maine didn’t have it in warmups, or that he shouldn’t have treated Maine as he did. That’s fine. But what I saw was a manager who trusted his player to do the right thing, then acted with urgency to correct the situation when it became obvious that the player wouldn’t. I fully expect to go back to criticizing Manuel’s decisions again (heck, it happened a couple of times last night), but I thought pulling Maine was the right move at the right time, and I was impressed with how Manuel handled it.

Posted in Jerry Manuel, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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