Archive for the ‘Today’s Mets headlines’ Category

What Is Mike Pelfrey?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

For some Mets fans, this is the response to a Jeopardy clue: “Which Mets pitcher should be sent to Triple-A?” I don’t see it that way, and indeed, the question is largely a rhetorical one at this point.

Mike Pelfrey has moments when he looks like an ace. He has moments when he looks like a pitcher who doesn’t belong in the major leagues. This is nothing new, and has nothing to do with some perceived psychological or mental limitation. It is because he doesn’t strike many hitters out, leaving him vulnerable to wide swings in his results.

Look, the results have been awful in 2011. Through six starts, his ERA is an unsightly 7.39. But as I detailed in a spirited discussion on Twitter Friday night (are you following us @lohudmets yet? Well, why on earth not?) with Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society and Metsblog’s Michael Baron, a period like this recent struggle is nothing new. And what usually follows is an evening out of luck.

This is what happens to pitchers who only strike out around 5/9 innings, as Pelfrey has throughout his career. Sometimes, the balls find holes. Sometimes, they don’t.

From June 19-July 19, 2010, Pelfrey had a 9.11 ERA over six starts. In his next seven starts? A 2.58 ERA.

From June 21-July 17, 2009, Pelfrey had a 6.19 ERA over six starts. In his next six starts? A 3.58 ERA.

From April 25-May 26, 2008, Pelfrey had a 6.47 ERA over six starts. In his next six starts? A 3.67 ERA. In his next 11 starts? A 2.57 ERA.

In short, the Met defense can go a long way toward improving Pelfrey’s performances. Pelfrey himself, if he found a way to increase his swing-and-mises, could as well.

But chances are that this is Mike Pelfrey, for better or worse. And that is a pitcher with value- he’s been durable, for one thing, and there’s a clear floor on what you will get from him over the long haul, with the floor getting higher depending on how good the rest of your team is defensively. That is value enough to keep him in the rotation, especially when the alternative is Dillon Gee, a pitcher with more floor than ceiling himself.

It is time for Mets fans to stop panicking every time he goes through a rough stretch. And it is also time for fans to put aside the expectations of a future ace, fed by his high draft selection and tall frame. (The team probably didn’t do him any favors in this regard by starting him on Opening Day.) The Mets have someone even taller than Pelfrey’s 6’7″ in Chris Young, and no one expects him to be an ace, or even throw 90 miles per hour.

Put it this way: if the Mets didn’t want Pelfrey’s ups and downs in the rotation, they probably would have traded him last winter. Because Pelfrey has been who he is now for years.

Rivalries and Facebook/Twitter Pages

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

So Bob Brookover’s column in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer is a strange one- he claims that the Phillies and Mets aren’t rivals. His reasoning appears to boil down to a few key points:

  • The Phillies are much better than the Mets
  • The Phillies are heading up, the Mets down
  • There’s very little shared history

Regarding his major arguments: the Phillies certainly have been much better than the Mets over the past two seasons. The Mets and Phillies were neck-and-neck in the two seasons before that, and the Mets were far better in 2006. Hardly a one-sided battle there. As for direction of the team, pulling back even a little gives a different trend line, at least from my perspective. The Mets, under Sandy Alderson, appear to be well-run for the first time in years, if not decades. And the Phillies, with ill-advised contracts, a bunch of 30-something players, and no apparent room to add additional salary, seem both vulnerable and at the end of their success cycle.

This is no criticism- they’ve won four consecutive NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series. That’s a success run on par with virtually any National League team, ever. But is the logical place for them to go from here… up?

Ultimately, what makes a rivalry, in my opinion, is shared battles, frequently playing, and geographic proximity to maximize the intensity. Brookover’s column was right on, back in 2006. But much has changed, obviously, since then. The unbalanced schedules mean those battles will continue to rage almost as frequently as the Dodgers and Giants playing 22 times a year when both resided in New York. And the two cities could scarcely be closer, with New Jersey serving as a rivalry zone between them.

The fierce rivalries between the Mets and Cardinals, or Mets and Cubs, receded when divisional play separated the teams. My suspicion is that once Chipper Jones retires, the Braves will become another division rival- Bobby Cox disappearing has already reduced the intensity several notches. But the Phillies? Something long dormant, due to the relatively large number of down years from each franchise, has finally awakened. Like a Red Sox-Yankees tilt when one team is down, it will still carry that charge long after Ryan Howard and David Wright retire.

Speaking of rivalries, notice that while the LoHud Yankees Blog has 1,808 likes on Facebook, the just-created LoHud Mets Blog fan page has, as of this writing… two. Similarly, many of you have started following this page on Twitter @lohudmets, but we lag behind the LoHud Yankee Twitter feed as well. So I would urge you to strike back against the smug Yankee fans you work with, follow us on Twitter, and assert that you Like our new fan page. I can’t promise you October baseball, but I will be certain to provide, in September, Meaningful Posts.