Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Dan Warthen’

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 »

Innings Limit for Niese?

Posted by JD on August 21, 2010

Hat tip to Mets Police for bringing this NY Post article that indicates that the Mets may limit Jon Niese’s innings pitched (one good turn deserves another: thanks for linking to my Jason Bay post yesterday guys). It’s a sound move, especially as the Mets continue to tread water at the .500 mark. While I’m quite certain the “Future Hall of Famer” reference came with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Niese is nonetheless a big part of the Mets future. Running up his innings pitched total may or may not impact his future performance (the so-called Verducci Effect has come under scrutiny in the past year and it turns out it may not be the greatest predictor of future health), but why take the chance in what is turning out to be a non-competitive season?

Some minor quibles with Mike Puma’s article: while Niese did pitch 164 innings in the minors in 2008, his total innings pitched that season was actually 178 (when you factor in his time on the major league roster). Also, he pitched a total of 120 innings last season (factoring in those pesky thirds of an inning) and he’s logged 139 innings this season (he made one start for Buffalo in April).

That being said, there are 40 games left in this season. Without studying the current arrangement of the rotation, let’s assume that would leave him with eight starts. He probably wouldn’t throw five complete games, but if you assume that he throws five quality starts, that would result in him throwing 187 total innings this season (five seven-inning starts would give him 195, five five-inning starts would give him 179).

As you can see, there’s some maneuverability available for the Mets here. Personally, I’d let Niese make his next three starts (running him up to about 160 innings), call up Dillon Gee to take his place in the rotation, and spot Niese out of the bullpen to let him finish somewhere around 170-175 innings pitched. Do I trust Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen to behave accordingly? Of course not.

Given his recent injury history and the Mets’ fall from contention, the plan to limit Niese’s innings pitched is sound. How the Mets go about executing it (if they do it at all) bares watching. Here’s hoping it all works out: I look forward to watching Jon Niese pitch for the Mets for years to come.

Posted in Jerry Manuel, Jon Niese, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a 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 »

A Little Drama

Posted by JD on May 17, 2010

It got a little crazy this afternoon, didn’t it? On the heels of Omar Minaya’s announcement that he would accompany the team to Atlanta, Jeff Wilpon changed his plans and flew down, too. I read Metsblog at least 10 times a day and I happened to check in as this post was published…and that was effectively the end of my workday. The various beat writers were tweeting minute-by-minute status updates, so I pulled out my Blackberry, fired up the Ubertwitter app, and hit refresh approximately every two minutes.

Given how poorly the Mets have played recently, I initially thought we were witnessing the end of Jerry Manuel’s managing tenure. Wilpon, Manuel, Minaya and Assistant GM John Ricco were locked in discussions behind closed doors and I was sure that Jerry would soon be an ex-manager. The doors opened, Jerry walked through, the question was asked, and…Jerry laughed it off and quickly returned to the room with Dan Warthen, Randy Niemann, and Ray Ramirez in tow. Ok, I thought, we’re going to have a new pitching coach.

Not so fast. Warthen, Niemann, and Ramirez left the room a few minutes later, still gainfully employed. Well, that could only mean one thing: upper management was discussing whether they could afford to cut Oliver Perez. But as the minutes crawled by, it slowly dawned on me that they were just getting an update on Jon Niese’s status. Sure enough, word soon came from the beat writers that there was a locker with R.A. Dickey’s name on it, and that Hisanori Takahashi would be taking Niese’s next turn in the rotation.

Wednesday’s starter is still up in the air, but that’s about the only unresolved issue. Jeff Wilpon spoke to the beat writers shortly after the 90-minute ordeal ended, saying “I came to talk baseball… If I felt good about what is going on, I wouldn’t be here.” And that was that. Manuel, Warthen, and Perez kept their jobs, and the Mets got ready to face the Braves.

Oh, that’s right: they also played a game, which the Mets won 3-2. Chris Carter started in right field and had a double and an RBI before being lifted for Jeff Francoeur in a defensive switch…in the 6th inning. GMJ started and did GMJ things again (0-3 with a strike out and a big GIDP with the Mets threatening in the seventh), and Francisco Rodriguez made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth before striking out Nate McClouth to end the game.

Plenty to write about there, but I have no energy for it: getting my hopes up earlier in the afternoon left me spent. The win postponed the Manuel-watch for at least another series or two (I doubt they’ll make a move until after the Yankees series now). But rest assured, we’ll surely be treated to more management-driven drama before long.

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya, The Wilpons | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »