At the beginning of the season, DyHrdMet and I were discussing the potential of the Mets. You see, he and I had been to spring training (me to camp, he to exhibition games). His quotes were pretty damning. From "this pitching staff scares the shit out of me" (who wasn't?) but most of all, "I only see a 75-win team here" (his thoughts, and I agreed with him).
Well, barring any monumental collapse (say, losing 20 in a row at some point), we are on a pace to winning at the very least 80 games. In the meantime, we've both been eating crow (mostly from Senor Solly, who I think is just doing it to bust our proverbial chops). In the meantime, with all the jokes about Cleveland Indians, the Mets and the movie Major League, DyHrdMet and I said we'd both eat a big shitburger.
Shitburgers. Eating crow. Another term for that is "admitting one's mistakes." While the Mets have had a hot hot winning streak that ended yesterday, the thing is, I still feel like there is a margin of not only improvement, but a massive amount of crow eating that needs to take place before I am totally comfortable with giving my backing for this season.
I'm going to come right out and say it: Jenrry Mejia doing mop-up work is NOT the answer in the 'pen. The Mets are notoriously once again driving a rookie into the ground by putting their needs first and not the development and nurturing the rookie will need in the long-term. This team has been lucky to the extent that R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi has worked out well in the starting rotation, not to mention that whole addition-by-subtraction thing by having John Maine on the DL and Oliver Perez, well, sent to the Puppy Farm.
How great would it have been to have Mejia in the minors when Maine and Perez were no longer "available" to pitch, and have him at the ready? I like Takahashi, but I still feel like his talents were better suited in the 'pen. Once the league starts figuring him out, we are in trouble. (Dickey I'm not concerned with yet because for some reason, major league hitting has not figured out knuckleballers)
The Mets have been incredibly lucky in the fact that the bullpen hasn't been make or break...yet. We all know it's shortsighted to think that this will go on "forever." No, there will come a time (oh, say, August or September) where we will see them blow leads and falter in the stretch. That will not be Jenrry Mejia's fault, in fact, I doubt he will even part of that. Since he's been relegated to doing "mop-up" work at this point, the chances of him coming into a tight game is slim and none, and Mr. Slim is out of town.
No, Jenrry Mejia's talents are not being leveraged in the 'pen, and my fear is he is not only too "green" to be pitching in the majors in any role at this point without seasoning and stretching out in the minors, the Mets are in turn running Mejia into the ground at 20 years old.
I know his stats suggest he is not being hurt by this treatment (for a reliever, he's "okay" with an 0-2 record, 3.38 ERA) but his WHIP is abnormally high (1.650) for a guy who is supposed to have such filthy stuff. For a young kid with nasty stuff, it's clear out of the 'pen he is walking FAR too many batters. He is NOT ready for the big show.
Let's be fair. Mejia is ONLY on the team to make Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel look good as "lame ducks." Right now the team can afford to right this wrong since they've been playing over their heads, and send Mejia back to the minors. He will only maximize HIS talents if they right this wrong.
Yet, if there is one thing that "scares the shit out of me,"as DyHrdMet once said about the starting rotation, it's Jerry Manuel's running the 'pen into the ground on a consistent basis.
Back to Jerry Manuel. The reason I gave such a rambling intro to the whole sending back Mejia to the minors argument is this: yesterday, an article hit the wires that Manuel was addressing John Maine's rehab in the minors. While Manuel praised the efforts of Takahashi from Friday night against the Yankees, when asked if he would move Taka back to the 'pen once Maine returned (supposed to be in the week, initially, I believed), the answer was no. However, when asked if Maine would go to the 'pen, Manuel said no.
As a friend of mine said, Manuel basically said "Maine would be pitching in the off-day."
Okay. Now, John Maine has been testing my patience in the rotation. For a guy who has had numerous rehab assignments and never had a true "out" pitch, he never seemed to want to take the extra step to better himself. Even in rehab, his pitch counts are extremely high in early innings. Wouldn't the better question, since we know John Maine can handle not only major league hitters but we also know he's good for about five innings. Wouldn't that be better out of the bullpen?
Yes, I know Maine would prefer to be a starter. But Maine needs to put his big boy pants on and do what's best for the team. If he wants to pitch in the majors again, he has to understand that pitchers with similar stuff (aka Takahashi) is not only being effective but finishing the job Maine never seemed to do.
Of course, Manuel hates Maine for some reason. Maine is a Jerry's Shit-List Kid, as I like to call them. Manuel is unprofessional. It's bad enough he cannot hide his disgust for Maine in public view, but to say outright, he has no place on this team to the press isn't cool.
Maine cares. I'm sure if you sat him down with Minaya or Ricco or whoever, said, you need to do this, it's what's best for the team, he'll be reasonable about it. Of course, he may ask for a trade. So be it.
Here's my thinking. Ship Mejia's ass out of town and bring Maine up when he is ready (of course, news comes out today that Maine will be re-evaluated and that Mejia might be sent back to the minors. Have they been inside my head or reading my Tweets?). Hat tip to Metsblog for suggesting that if Maine goes back on the DL, the Mets can put off doing what they want with him. If he's not, they'd have no choice but to release him.
Doing this will right two wrongs. Maine should be in the 'pen, plain and simple. He also has a heart and cares about his performance, we all see this. The Mejia experiment just needs to be done, period.
Another wrong that needs to be righted? Release Oliver Perez.
Here's my thinking. John Maine, I feel, can be effective out of the 'pen. Perhaps as a long-man, but whatever. He can be and that's my point. Oliver Perez is effective NOWHERE. Not as a starter, not as a long-man, not as a reliever. I'd go so far as to say not as a human being, but that's mean. He managed to get an agent who believed he was worth $12mm/year, so that's impressive. He doesn't have the goods to back that up.
Of course, the Mets will fail to do the right thing here because it's a money issue. They will never admit to being wrong by giving Perez that contract and eating all that dough. Or crow.
The answer to me is simple. Let Maine work his stuff out in the minors, then tell him, work out of the 'pen, or else. Send Mejia back down. And release Perez.