Grading the Mets pitchers

A few days late, but oh well.  This is the last you’ll hear from me for about 10 days, as I’m going on vacation next week, but I suspect somebody else will post something while I’m gone.  Or…they won’t.  Either way, with the Yankees and Phillies playing in their respective League Championship Serieses, I can think of no better time to get away, other than maybe the following week if they wind up playing in the World Series.  Here are the Mets’ pitchers grades, and if you thought the hitters grades were ugly, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Johan Santana:  First Half – B+; Second Half – C+; Final Grade – B-

And I feel this might be on the optimistic side, too.  I don’t know if he was hurt or what, but after the second week of May, Santana was a very ordinary pitcher.  He had elbow surgery in late-August and should hopefully be ready for Spring Training, but I’m a little pessimistic long-term.  It wouldn’t surprise me if we have already seen the best of Johan Santana.  I hope I’m wrong.

Pedro Feliciano:  First Half – C+; Second Half – B-; Final Grade – B-

That’s right, I’m saying that the Mets’ second best pitcher this year was their left-handed specialist.  I think that pretty much sums up our year.  Despite pitching nearly every day, Feliciano actually got better as the year went on, as his strikeout rate climbed as the year progressed.  Part of me thinks the Mets should trade him while his value is at its absolute highest, as he’s likely to get a decent arbitration award for such a good year, and he’s a year away from hitting free agency, where he will become cost-prohibitive.  Yet they probably can’t, as they likely don’t value Adam Bostick like Will and I do, and there is nobody else in the system capable of being a true LOOGY for this team.

Nelson Figueroa:  First Half – Incomplete; Second Half – C; Final Grade – C

Figgy was pretty much exactly what the Mets needed in the second half; an average starting pitcher.  He had a good strikeout rate, an average walk rate, and a high homer rate, but he took his turn every five days and gave the Mets a thoroughly average start every time out.  Considering how many lousy starting pitchers the Mets threw out there in the second half, this is pretty high praise.  I would not mind seeing him back in some role in 2010, but preferably one that starts the year in Buffalo.

John Maine:  First Half – C-; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – C

He didn’t pitch enough in the second half to warrant a grade, but what I did see was enough to bump him from the C- to a C.  The encouraging thing (besides taking the field at all) was the improved walk rate; he only walked 4 batters in just under 20 innings pitched.  It’s a small sample size to be sure, and his strikeout rate also continued its decline, but there are reasons for encouragement here.  That said, guaranteeing him a spot in the starting rotation for 2010 is foolish; they need a better backup plan than Nelson Figueroa and Tim Redding if they are serious about making a playoff run in 2010.

Bobby Parnell:  First Half – C+; Second Half – D+; Final Grade – C

I think if we learned anything about Bobby Parnell this year, it’s that he’s more likely to be a good relief pitcher than a good starter.  I’m fine with that; heck, I say trade Frankie and make Parnell the first homegrown closer we’ve had since Randy Myers.  Since that isn’t bloody likely, expect him to be the primary set-up man in 2010.  Hopefully, we’ll see some more progression next year.

Mike Pelfrey:  First Half – B; Second Half – C-; Final Grade – C

Some might see this as being a bit generous, but I think Pelfrey suffered more than anybody from the downgrade at shortstop from Jose Reyes to Alex Cora/Anderson Hernandez defensively.  The Mets’ middle infield defense after Reyes went down was spectacularly awful between Cora, Hernandez, and Luis Castillo, and if you’re a pitcher that gets outs via the ground ball rather than the strikeout, that’s going to pump up the ol’ ERA.  While I’m sure Big Pelf thinks Cora is a nice enough guy, I can’t imagine he actually wants him back here as Reyes’ backup again in 2010.  Please Omar, sign Adam Everett for the sake of Big Pelf’s sanity.

Sean Green:  First Half – C; Second Half – D; Final Grade – C-

Unlike Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green got worse as the year went on.  His strikeout rate dropped a little, but his walkrate collapsed.  His groundball rate improved, but unfortunately for him, the defense behind him got much worse.  That said, he was still effective against right-handed hitters, but not as good as he had been in years past.  I’d say there’s a chance he won’t be back next year, either because they will non-tender him or include him as a throw-in to some random dumb move Omar makes, but if the team did something to improve the middle infield defense, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him bounce back in 2010.

Francisco Rodriguez:  First Half – C+; Second Half – D+; Final Grade – C-

I hate to say I told you so, but…no wait, I love saying I told you so.  Frankie’s performance caught up with his peripherals in the second half, and the result was disaster.  Fortunately, he’s only due $42.5 million over the next three years!  All he has to do is finish 100 games, which essentially means “don’t get hurt.”  Man, Omar, the next GM is going to curse your name come 2012.  If you want to know why the Mets won’t be spending any major money this offseason, remember that Frankie Rodriguez is eating up 10% of the team’s total payroll by himself, all so he can pitch 5% of our team’s innings per year.  Wise use of available funds.

Pat Misch:  First Half – Incomplete; Second Half – D+; Final Grade – D+

Pat Misch’s complete game masked the fact that he is not a very good pitcher.  In seven starts, he had a total of ten strikeouts.  Ten!  It’s a small enough number that I can spell it out!  He had so few strikeouts and so many home runs that he had a K/HR ratio of 1.25.  Any time a pitcher has a K/HR ratio that close to 1 is not a good pitcher.  The fact that he had so few strikeouts that I wondered what his K/HR ratio was to begin with should say something.

Brian Stokes:  First Half – C-; Second Half – D; Final Grade – D+

I remain perplexed as to what Stokes does well.  Apparently Jerry Manuel agrees, as Stokes remained the least leveraged reliever to pitch any significant innings for the team in 2009.  I’d say that was probably a good idea; the only pitchers on the Mets staff who had a worse K/BB ratio were Casey Fossum (who pitched 4 innings all year), J.J. Putz, and Oliver Perez.  Not good company, right there.

Elmer Dessens:  First Half – Incomplete; Second Half – D; Final Grade – D

I’m not wasting a second sentence on Elmer Dessens.

Livan Hernandez:  First Half – C+; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – D

The few months Livan did spend here before getting his walking papers were bad enough to earn him an D for the season.  In retrospect, it’s pretty amazing that they even cut the cord with this guy.

Tim Redding:  First Half – D-; Second Half – D+; Final Grade – D

Redding didn’t so much improve in the second half as much as his luck improved.  His walk rate in the first half was 3.8 BB/9; in the second half, it was 3.7 BB/9.  Redding’s K/9 rate in the first half was 5.9; in the second half, it was 5.5.  His K/BB was actually a little worse, going from 1.55 to 1.50.  The big difference was his BABIP was .306 in the first half, and .251 in the second half.  Considering his career BABIP is .301, the first half is more in line with what he has done for his career than the second half.  I would be wary of bringing him back.

Oliver Perez:  First Half – F – - -; Second Half – F – - -; Final Grade -  F – - -

I thought about maybe giving Oliver Perez an F-double minus in the second half, since he did improve his walk rate (from a ludicrous 9.4 BB/9 to a merely insane 6.9 BB/9)  but then I noticed that he gave up 9 homers in 39.3 second half innings, which is an almost impossible rate.  Literally the only thing Oliver Perez did right this season was strike batters out.  I can’t believe my first Citi Field experience was him stinking up the joint against the Washington Nationals.  Here I am, at the only game I would see featuring Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado all year, and it’s spent watching Perez get bombed by the worst team in baseball.  I can’t believe that, in the end, that Oliver Perez stole more money from the Wilpons than Bernie Madoff.

Fernando Nieve:  First Half – C-; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

He made one start that lasted four batters after I wrote the first half grades.  That probably qualifies as an incomplete.

J.J. Putz:  First Half – D; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

So long, J.J.  I’m sorry that we never got to see the real you while you were on the Mets.  I hope you land somewhere on your feet, as long as “somewhere” isn’t Philadelphia, Atlanta, or Miami.

Ken Takahashi, Jonathon Niese, Lance Broadway, Tobi Stoner, Casey Fossum, Jon Switzer, Darren O’Day, Billy Wagner:  Incomplete

None of these guys pitched enough to warrant a grade.  But since they did put on the blue and orange at least once, I will say something about each.

  • Ken Takahashi pitched quite well in September, and should probably be brought back on another minor league deal next year.  The best thing you can say about him is that he’s not too terrible.
  • Poor Jon Niese.  I was really looking forward to that start where he got hurt.  If he had been brought up earlier like he should have been, he might not have gotten hurt at all.
  • I will forever resent Lance Broadway for costing this team Ramon Castro.  It’s also worth pointing out that he stinks.
  • Tobi Stoner will forever be a lightning-rod for bad marijuana jokes.
  • Back in July, I couldn’t believe Casey Fossum had pitched for the Mets in 2009.  In light of the other players that wound up getting significantly more time on the big league club, I feel we didn’t give the guy more of a chance.
  • Jon Switzer pitched 1/3 more of an inning for the Mets than Darren O’Day.  It doesn’t seem fair.
  • Speaking of O’Day, it remains an absolute travesty that the Mets let him get away to Texas.  Awful roster management there, especially since they could have sent down Stokes, whom Manuel was using so infrequently that Amazin Avenue poked fun at how infrequently he was being used.
  • Finally, I will miss Billy Wagner.  He was everything that Frankie wasn’t, meaning he was good.

Final tally for the 2009 Mets:

  • No A’s
  • 2 B’s (and I would call Santana an EXTREMELY borderline B-)
  • 7 C’s
  • 5 D’s
  • 1 F
  • 8 Incompletes

I would say that yes, this team needs some work in the pitching department.

2 Responses to “Grading the Mets pitchers”

  1. tjv101 says:

    Indeed you are correct with a lot of what you say. I do think you are being a little harsh on K-rod. He didn’t have a great year but he wasn’t piss awful. Towards the end of the year, clearly he was worn out from this injuries to the team and the media surrounding that. His ERA was a lot higher than expected (3.71) but giving up 2 grand slams during the regular season in the 9th inning would do that. His K/9 was around his usual. He was 35/42 with saves and should have been better than that. Still, I’d rather have him than Brad Lidge and expect him to bounce back next season with a healthy team. I just pray that Santana will do the same. I expect no less than that from him as he will work to be the best and not settle for less.

  2. Chris Wilcox says:

    Frankie wasn’t good in the first half, either. That’s what I’ve tried to pound home. His walk rate is really, really bad, and it was actually better in the second half than it was in the first. His strikeout rate declined for the sixth straight season, and it was actually better in the second half than it was in the first. His home run rate did get worse in the second half, but it wasn’t particularly great in the first half and was downright miserable in the second half.

    Luis Castillo showed that anybody can have a rocky season and rebound in year 2, but watching Frankie continue to deteriorate, particularly since he entered the easier league, is hard to swallow, especially with that fourth year option looking like it will become an issue in 2012.

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