Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bobby Parnell

I have never been a big fan of Bobby Parnell. I know he has a dynamite arm, but he hasn't shown any ability to harness his talent at any level of professional baseball. All I see when I look at Parnell is Kyle Farnsworth, without the propensity to reel off three unhittable months every couple of seasons.

Still, watching Parnell mow down the Astros in the 11th and 12th inning tonight, mixing a triple-digit fastball with a sharp-breaking slider, made me sit up and take notice. The SNY radar gun is obviously too fast - it clocked the fastball used to blow away Chris Johnson at 102 MPH. Even if it was, say, 3 MPH too fast tonight, that means Parnell was still locating a 99 MPH fastball against major league hitters.

You can teach a lot of things, but you cannot teach a 99 MPH fastball.

With Francisco Rodriguez out for the season and the Mets going nowhere fast, lame duck skipper Jerry Manuel might as well install Parnell as the closer for the last 40 games. If he racks up 10 to 15 saves, regardless of how effective he really is, it will only enhance Parnell's trade value this off-season. If he actually takes to the closer's spot well, the Mets may have finally found a role for Parnell to succeed in.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Who's to Blame?

Adam Rubin wrote about the lack of wheeling and dealing at the trade deadline for the Mets yesterday, and offered a reasoned perspective as to what is really wrong with the franchise right now:

You can clumsily cite principal owner Fred Wilpon and his family supposedly being stingy for such a deal not materializing, but that would be misguided -- even if ownership isn't blameless. The bottom line is the payroll is still hovering around $130 million this season.

The better answer: If GM Omar Minaya had shown restraint in his other salary commitments -- say, not giving Luis Castillo four years and $25 million or Oliver Perez three years and $36 million or guaranteeing seven years to Carlos Beltran -- he likely would have had the flexibility to pull off an Oswalt-type trade now.

It's far more about no discipline than no money.

Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will make $18 million between them both this season and next season. That is nothing less than a fiasco. The Beltran argument is a bit of a reach; he will only be 34 next season and there was no reason to believe he would have a career-threatening knee injury with two years remaining on the contract.

I have been saying all season that Beltran wouldn't play in 2010. I was wrong about that - he definitely came back earlier than expected. I will say that he is clearly not playing at full strength and nothing less than a full offseason of rest will change that. I still think the days of Carlos Beltran as an elite baseball player have come to an end.

It's OK to Trade Bobby Parnell

This I don't like. From MetsBlog:

(Omar) Minaya said the Mets were “close” to making a deal in the final half hour before the deadline, but considering teams were continuing to ask for Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell, the Mets were unable to find a fit.

Now that is a surprisingly reasonable assessment of the situation by Minaya, except for including Parnell in that mix. It's just silly to include a pitcher who has failed as both a starter and a reliever with three guys who the Mets should legitimately be interested in retaining.

Davis is the starting first baseman and there is no one in the organization ready to play the position competently on the major league level. I've compared him multiple times to Adam LaRoche, since that is the career path I think you can expect from Ike: a .275/.350/.475 line with 20 to 25 homers a year. That's not a superstar, but the Mets won't be paying Davis like a superstar for the next six years.

I'm more much more excited about Niese, who I think has the potential to be a good #3 starter on a playoff team or a #2 starter on an also-ran. There are very few pitchers in baseball I would trade Niese for - Roy Oswalt and Ted Lilly were not among them. I expect both Davis and Niese to be Mets five years from now and for both to be important contributors to a playoff team.

I am more ambivalent about Tejada. His development may have been stunted by the Mets' over-aggressive promotion schemes of the Tony Bernazard regime, but the response to that idea is that Tejada may actually be a guy who really comes into his own in two years. If Tejada had been traded I would not have been heartbroken, but I am happier that he's here. He's still only 20 years old and the Mets really should commit to leaving him in Buffalo until the end of the 2011 season to see what they have in Tejada.

Parnell, though ... Parnell is a different story. He simply has not been very good at any level throughout his professional career; he has consistently put up WHIPS over 1.400 in the minors and was knocked around in whatever role the Mets used him in last year. Parnell is being lit up against lefties this season (a .345/.387/.379 line) and looks to all the world to be a 25-year-old hard-throwing righty specialist with nothing on his resume to make a neutral observer believe he can be more than that.

I don't know what Parnell would have fetched the Mets in a trade. I seriously doubt it would have been enough to make the Mets playoff contenders anyway - were the Marlins offering Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla for Parnell? But my message to Omar Minaya is this - if someone approached you with a trade offer for Bobby Parnell, do not hesitate to pull the trigger.