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While there has been a lot of talk about who will fill the Yankees’ fifth starter role, there has been even more talk in Mets camp about who will fill just about any role. Aside from Johan Santana, the pitching staff is a bit of a question mark. And while much of the Mets’ buzz this Spring Training has been about Carlos Beltran’s and Jose Reyes’ injuries, the other big piece of news is that of prospect RHSP Jenrry Mejia.

Mejia has impressed the Mets, and others, in Spring Training and there is talk of Jenrry heading north with the big league team as a relief pitcher once the regular season starts. This would be a huge mistake. For confirmation of this, the Mets need only to look across town to see what happens when you tinker with a young player’s development to fill a hole that could be otherwise filled. Of course, I’m talking about Joba Chamberlain.

Before going further, I will say that the situations are not analogous. Chamberlain was older than Mejia when he made his run through the minors in 2007 and was much more polished as a college pitcher. He was also brought up very late in the season and spent time in the bullpen because of an approaching innings limit and because the team needed late inning bullpen help. The biggest mistake, though, was not “re-starting” him, so to speak, in 2009. The talk of Mejia has a similar “Make-Him-A-Reliever-Before-Giving-Him-A-Chance-To-Succeed-Or-Fail-As-A-Starter” vibe.

First of all, Mejia is just 20 years old (B. Oct. 11, 1989) and he has yet to pitch a full season in AA; he pitched 44.1 innings in AA in the second half of 2009 after pitching 50.1 innings at A+ during the first half. To rush him up to the minors just to pitch in relief would be a move devastating to his development as a starter. FanGraphs ranked him as the number three prospect in the Mets organization. A talent like that should not be converted into a reliever until it is clear he has failed as a starter. Mejia is far too young to have failed and we’ll need to see him pitch at AA and higher to see if how he can fare as a starter.

There is a counter to this, found here:

“Mejia’s slider needs a lot of work. He throws it with an inconsistent release point and arm speed, often leaving it up in the strike zone He sometimes throws his changeup too hard and doesn’t achieve enough separation from his fastball. His fastball command also can stand to improve, and even he acknowledges he doesn’t quite know where the pitch is headed when he releases it.

The logic could be that if Mejia is having trouble harnessing his secondary offerings, why not focus his energy on perfecting two pitches rather than a whole arsenal? Why not? Because, again, Mejia is 20. A lot of 20 year old pitchers struggle with their control and the effectiveness of their secondary pitches. He needs time to perfect these things.

This same argument is made in regards to Joba. Some say he should just focus on his fastball/slider combo, which would make him perfect for the bullpen. Of course, I say to that, why waste his talent and other pitches? But, I really don’t need to sit here and remind you that I think Joba should be a starter. I’ve done that enough.

I will say, though, that Chamberlain’s development was hampered by the tinkering in 2008 (the shoulder injury didn’t help) and if the Mets do the same thing to Mejia, his development could be hindered even more. By turning Mejia to the bullpen, the Mets would be giving up on a great talent to fulfill a current need that is not nearly as great as their future need.

As it’s been mentioned everywhere in the baseball world, the Mets’ starting rotation is essentially in shambles. Johan is the only sure thing, and even he’s a bit less sure after an elbow injury. Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are okay, but they’re not the building blocks of a rotation. Jon Neise has a bit more upside, but he’s still behind Mejia in that category. The Mets’ need for starting pitching in the future will be greater than their need for a reliever now. Like Chamberlain’s, his development would be stunted, halted, tampered with, and all around impeded upon. It would hurt Mejia as a pitcher and it would hurt the Mets, as they’d be depriving themselves of a possible legitimate starting pitcher. Mejia-as-reliever may briefly plug a hole for the Mets, but that very same strategy will cause a greater leak down the road.

15 Responses to “Mets Should Not Repeat Yanks’ Mistake”

  1. I think you’re absolutely right. The Mets are a mess right now and have no business plugging Mejia in a bullpen role. What a lot of B-Jobbers don’t realize is that a lot of young starting pitchers break into their rotations through a short bullpen stint (Liriano, Pedro, Billingsley, etc.), but they are much closer to being MLB-caliber starting pitchers. Mejia clearly has talent and a decent way to go to fully harness it – or at least harness it to the point where he can contribute significantly to the Mets’ rotation. They need to keep him down on the farm before they ruin what little hope the Mets and their fans have for the future. I mean, damn, they’re not going to finish better than 4th in the NL East, at least let the kid pitch in Double-A for a bit.  (Quote)

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  2. no my friend..the mets SHOULD repeat the yanks mistakes and any other they can muster..makes any season more fun to see the metropolitans suffer!  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    I never get this. Why would you root against the Mets? They aren’t the Yankees rivals anymore then the Braves or Phillies are. I hate the Red Sox, and I totally get that, but I never understood the whole hating against the Mets  (Quote)

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    bobbybaseball Reply:

    pure evil  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    Pure waste of time. The Mets shouldn’t matter just like the Mariners don’t. In fact, if the Yankees don’t make it, I root for the Mets… well no… I root for the Cards, Diamondbacks and Twins, but I wouldn’t root against the Mets for the good of the town. It just seems childish to root against the Mets.  (Quote)

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    bobbybaseball Reply:

    jay you must be a good guy, your a yankee fan. But get real -we’re not discussing healthcare reform. Your wound too tight man. Life is hard and i will take my pleasure where i find it without your approval! lets all meet by the big bat and sing kumbayah and pray for the good of bud selig!  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    I’m with Jay. It’s a waste of time.  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    It’s not being wound too tight (although I am… I’m just a TICKING TOMEBOMB!!!), it’s just being a realist. I’m sorry if me arguing “no my friend..the mets SHOULD repeat the yanks mistakes and any other they can muster..makes any season more fun to see the metropolitans suffer!” as an asinine statement upsets you. I don’t mean to call you out. I’m simply saying that there is nothing major at stake when the Yankees play the Mets unless it’s the World Series. Otherwise, it’s 1/162th at stake. It’s like saying that you get joy out of watching those damn Kansas City Royals… it’s meaningless.  (Quote)

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    Craig Reply:

    The Mets are my second favorite team. The Yanks and sawx are rivals. The Yanks and Mets are brothers. It just happens that one brother sucks at life.  (Quote)

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  3. It’s insane. I cannot believe that the Mets would even go down this path after witnessing the Yankees.

    I’ll tell you what the reason behind it is though. It’s the reason you don’t leave a GM/coach hanging on. They are playing for this year because that’s all they care about. Minaya and Manuel both know that this is it for them (and if Manuel does anything like after he left the White Sox, he should bash the living hell out of the Mets once he’s gone). They will risk (possibly) ruining this kids promising career simply because it best suits them for this season.

    If Omar was really this hard up for a reliever, he should have signed a guy like Fernando Rodney. I’m not advocating this move mind you, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kelvim Escobar, THE SAME ESCOBAR THAT NO ONE ELSE WAS WILLING TO OFFER A ML DEAL TO, is hurt. The Mets front office/coaching staff must be the most asinine staff in history.

    * Side note to Steve S.- Thanks for the kind words in the Joba piece with Heyman. I have been crazy busy with finishing up a doctorate in Psychotherapy and doing hospital rounds and stuff. I plan to be back here posting consistently as soon as possible. I have read most of the site, I just don’t have time to respond sometimes (especially during the slow points in the offseason). Sorry this is off topic, but I wanted to thank Steve for recognizing me. And for admitting he is old enough to remember Dave Righetti, lol.  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    By the way, I forgot to add that the Mets head of the organization starting with the Wilpons are just as much at fault here for not getting rid of Minaya. It’s stupid to keep them around when they are just getting fired. The whole organization needs a guy like Gillick, Towers, or McPhail to run the entire organization and have the owners shut up.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    You stole my thunder Jay.The only reason why they would even consider this is because:

    A) They need a setup man since Escobar is done, and they were counting in him
    B) Omar is hanging by a thread
    C) Manuel is hanging by a thread
    D) He’s their best internal option, which says something about their farm system.

    The Mets are just a horribly run organization. They spend among the highest in the NL each year and barely have a .500 record going back 10 years. Their cost per win is on par with the Yanks, despite the fact they spend 50 mil less. That tells you how big the gap in results is.  (Quote)

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    Craig Reply:

    Blow it up from the bottom as high up as you can possibly go. Then take the necessary time to build it up the right way. It would be nice to have two NY teams making good noise.  (Quote)

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  4. Boy, that pitcher looks a lot like Pedro.  (Quote)

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  5. Here’s an idea that may benefit both the Mets and the Yanks: offer them Mitre for Maine.

    Somebody was saying that neither Maine nor Jon Niese look like they are physically able to carry a big load due to insufficient injury recovery, and where are they going to get the innings coverage? I love Maine when he’s healthy, a fine smooth delivery.  (Quote)

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