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.