Why the New York Mets Were Smart to Hold on to Bobby Parnell
Relievers that consistently throw in the upper-90s are valuable commodities for obvious reasons. In some cases, however, they are more valuable to a team as a trading chip than as a contributor.
Perhaps I was the only proponent of it, but I vehemently believed that the Mets were better off packaging Bobby Parnell in a deal for a big-time bat during the Winter in order to boost their offense.
My reasoning behind it was simple. While Parnell clearly was gifted with a powerful right arm, he showed a lack of fortitude late in games and was much less effective than his 3.64 ERA would suggest.
Parnell received six losses and was only 6-of-12 in save opportunities in 2011. His main deficiency was his inability to properly locate his fastball, which continually put him in batter's counts.
His BB/9 IP of 4.1 was inflated for a high-leverage guy. Parnell was able to strike batters out at a 9.7/9 IP clip, but was getting squared up on too frequently.
Obviously the Mets agreed that Parnell was not ready to assume the closer's position this season when they acquired Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez in the offseason.
It was clearly an insult to Parnell, who was left scrambling for a spot in the bullpen entering spring training.
Perhaps the turning point for him was meeting with Sandy Koufax and refining some mechanical issues in the delivery.
Koufax clearly knows his way around the mound and sometimes it just takes a different perspective to accurately pinpoint a problem.
Is Bobby Parnell the closer of the future?
With the injury to Francisco and the ineffectiveness of Rauch, Parnell has been granted the closer's job once again, but this time he has been much more poised and effective.
His numbers have improved across the board this season, most importantly his 3.88 K/BB ratio, which means he is continuing to get swings-and-misses, but is forcing the batters to earn their way on.
Once Francisco comes back it will be interesting to see how Terry Collins handles the bullpen.
Francisco seems to be his closer until he hits an extended slump, but Parnell could force his hand if he continues to rack up zeros.
At the least, Parnell would appear to be the eighth-inning guy with Rauch continuing to allow several go-ahead home runs recently.
Parnell has proven everyone, including myself, wrong who doubted his ability to transform from a thrower into a pitcher.
He has made significant strides this season, and the Mets are smart to have held onto the 27-year-old righty who already failed at becoming a starter in 2009 and a closer in 2011.
The Mets really could have acquired a power bat off the bench if they were to offer Parnell. At the time, I would have approved of the deal because I did not think Parnell had it in him to succeed in New York.
Clearly, I was wrong, but it is something I am glad for.
Parnell is a terrific player and person, and he will be a pivotal player if the Mets are to continue this overachieving pace.
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