Generally, I am very much a glass Â¾ full, sunshiner optimist. But the last week has severely drained my very deep well of positivity.
For much of March, I definitely was subscribing to the sensible idea that spring training stats mean little. And they usually do.
But there are of course exceptions. The 2010 Met bullpen really had just two set members in February, KRod and Feliciano. The two of them have been excellent this spring.
The rest of the pen hopefuls have ranged from mediocre to horrid. Takahashi has been pretty good overall. Misch, Figueroa, and Dessens have been fine, but they are all pitchers who have largely been awful during most of their entire careers.
That leaves the guys who were expected to comprise the pen after KRod and Feliciano: Parnell, Igarashi, Nieve, Green, and Calero.
All five of these guys have been downright bad. And all five of them have been competing for a better spot in the pen, if not actually fighting for a spot in the majors. Ignoring their stats is not optimism, it is denial. The stats of every pen member other than KRod have mattered, and when unwanted, waiver-clearing retreads like Misch, Figueroa, and Dessens, and a rookie with less than 50 innings above A ball are by far the four best potential bullpen guys other than Feliciano all spring, there indeed might be a serious problem. When guys are fighting for spots, their numbers count; this is why the pen is an undecided mess on April 1. And bear in mind, many of the innings later in games that these guys have thrown have consisted of facing minor leaguers.
The rotation has actually been even worse. All five starters have been terrible. Really, really terrible. We can throw out Johanâ€™s numbers, but can we throw out everyone elseâ€™s? Nieseâ€™s numbers sure mean something, as he also has been fighting for a rotation spot, and has won it by default, not by performance. We apparently cannot obtain anyone new, Takahashi appears to lack the stamina needed, and Figueroa, while a very nice man and a hard worker, has never shown much aptitude when it comes to baseball-related activities. Again, if Figueroa and Dessens can have good springs, shouldnâ€™t we expect at least a FEW other pitchers who are fighting for a spot to follow suit?
Pelf, Ollie, and Maine are all coming off disappointing lost years, in one sense or another. One would think that they would, at least at the end of spring, be successfully working towards getting themselves ready for the season and that their latter starts would show some sort of sharpness or at least improvement. We have seen the complete opposite. Pelf was shelled last time out, Ollie looked precisely like the Bad Ollie constantly referred to by the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, and has Maine appeared once this spring without an excuse for why he has been terrible?
If the pitchers are â€œworking on thingsâ€ as I myself typed a lot over the last 5 weeks, one must begin to wonder if they have gotten anywhere. If Pelf is working on secondary pitches, are they any good? If Ollie is simply trying to throw strikes and still missing with impressive consistency, should we be worried? Will Maine ever go 6 innings again?
And most disturbing of all, what has Dan Warthen been doing with our pitching staff this spring?
I still cannot wait for the opener, and the offense, defense, and baserunning all have the potential to be somewhere between good and excellent. The soon-to-be-ready Junior Core in Buffalo looks truly impressive, and we might see the best crop of late-season callups since Mookie, Wally, and Hubie in 1980; indeed the future looks very bright, and the â€œwindowâ€ for this group remains wide open.
But what can we expect in 2010 from a pitching staff whose every memberâ€”with two exceptionsâ€”has been throwing batting practice nonstop for the last 5 weeks? Literally other than one outing each for Johan and Ollie, have all five rotation guys pitched more than two good games between them?
I am not a pessimist; I will watch and enjoy as long as the players try hard and care, and with the group we have being apparently invigorated by the excellent attitudes of Bay and Francoeur, this seems like a certainty. I am not trying to fan the flames of a civil war on a wonderful site, but to this fan of 35+ years, it is definitely time for serious concern. While I do not question the financial aspects of the decision by the Met brass to avoid career mediocrities like Marquis, Wolf, Pineiro, and Garland, it is indeed looking like this may not have been the best baseball decision. Hopefully the money not spent on pitching will be liberally available for in-season moves. Last fall we seemingly mostly agreed that the days of Pelf, Ollie, and Maine as 2-3-4 in the rotation were clearly over. Now we stand at April 1, and Pelf cannot get anyone out, Ollieâ€™s velocity and control have seriously regressed since early March, and Maine is still a mess. And they remain 2-3-4.
Hereâ€™s hoping our friend Omar is working the phones to pick up an Arroyo or someone similar. If what we have seen this spring is any indication, the folks who all offseason constantly repeated the mantra of the desperate need for just about anyone who could go 6 innings with regularity may indeed have been a lot righter than many of us thought. Hereâ€™s hoping that spring stats indeed still mean nothing, even when the calendar reads â€œApril.â€ Nothing would please me more than to eat a large plate of my own spring training words all season long.