It hasn’t been the easiest of springs for New York Mets righty Mike Pelfrey.
After a disappointing 2011 campaign, there were a lot of questions swirling around the Big Apple if the Mets will even tender Mike Pelfrey a contract in the off-season to keep him in the Orange and Blue. But, as I stated in the Mets season preview, the price for 200+ innings and quality starts is through the roof right now. The $5.6 million price tag on him through arbitration was minimal compared to a contract a similar pitcher would get in the open market.
That was all before Pelfrey’s absolutely horrendous Spring Training. Look, it is very difficult to take Spring Training statistics for what they are. Some of it has to be a contribution to players getting in shape, facing players that have something to play for when you don’t and so on.
But for Big Pelf, he’s given up more runs (20) than innings pitched (18). We’re at a point in Spring when you start caring about the numbers. By now, most players are gearing up for Opening Day, have a feel for all their pitches and are willing to test themselves and push it. And yet, Pelfrey is only looking worse and worse as we approach April 5th.
I understood the reasons the Mets brought Pelfrey back. With all the injury problems the Mets have had over the course of the last couple of seasons, its important to have a guy like Pelfrey in the rotation who will, at the minimum, take the ball every fifth day and give you 6+ innings of competitive baseball. And a part of me doesn’t want Pelfrey to figure it all out with another team. He’s flashed top-of-the-rotation make-up from time to time, but hasn’t put a full season together with it. I still think its there, but it needs to occur this year.
Now, after watching him carefully in Spring Training, I just don’t know anymore. Looking at the rotation, Johan Santana seems to have put his shoulder woes behind him, R.A. Dickey is continuing to pitch some magical knucklers, Jon Niese is primed for a break-out season and Dillon Gee has refined his change-up to the point that has scouts thinking it can become a strong out pitch.
While those four are succeeding ahead of Pelfrey, its also worth noting that top prospects Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia are knocking at the Major League door. Also, Jenrry Mejia is only a matter of weeks away from being fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and ready to reclaim a spot in the AAA rotation with eyes towards New York. Options and the future are now working against Pelfrey. In the off-season, Pelfrey was the best option at the time. Now? I think a strong argument can be made that Matt Harvey has done a lot more this Spring to earn a spot in the New York rotation than Pelfrey.
There is still some value in Pelfrey for a trade. He’s a moderately priced righty with a track record of throwing a ton of innings without any injury. You can snag one or two mid-level prospects for him right now, even with his stock this depressed. The best thing for Pelfrey may be to get out of New York, where the spotlight won’t be on him every time he ties his cleats.
As a Mets fan, I want to see Big Pelf brush off the yips and go back to 2010 Pelfrey who dominated the National League and gave the Mets a glimmer of hope.
But, right now, I don’t know how the Mets can run him out every fifth day.