There comes a time in a parent's life when they have to let go of a child who has had thrust upon them the high expectations of a family. There is a time when that child has to leave the only city he has ever known and begin a new life elsewhere.
There comes a time when the Milwaukee Brewers and Manny Parra look each other in the eye and say things never worked out, and let Parra find another city to call home.
Same story, different scenario.
Parra, along with Yovani Gallardo, was once the crowned gem of the Brewers organization. Ever since he threw a perfect game in the minors, it seemed like he would join the ranks of Sheets and Gallardo as top pitchers from the farm system.
He was a special lefty with a hard fastball and nasty splitter to go along with a changeup. It was deemed a repertoire that made batters cringe. He could go late into games and didn't allow free passes very often.
Then he arrived to town.
The Manny Parra of the scouting reports has not been very evident in a Brewers uniform, outside of the few good outings he has amounted.
His rookie season of 2008 did not immediately pour out stress on Brewers faithful. He had a stretch of eight consecutive wins that stretched his record to 9-2 with a 3.68 era as late as July. But as the summer emerged, Parra lost his command and touch, finishing the season in the bullpen with a 4.39 era, 1.54 WHIP, and 10-8 record as the team made the Playoffs.
The outlook was still bright for Parra. He mixed both bad outings (4 IP, 6 ER vs. Cincinnati) with the good outings (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R vs. Minnesota) to combine for a respectable campaign.
Then 2009 came around, and Parra, with his jersey number switched from 43 to 26, couldn't find the strike zone and gave up more runs than I would like to mention.
For some reason, manager Ken Macha kept him in the starting rotation all season long, even though Parra never quite found a groove. You could look at the 10 run outing in pitcher-friendly Sun Life Stadium (then Land Shark Stadium) or the 1.2 inning start against the White Sox that turned ugly very fast.
In 27 starts, he reached the seventh inning only four times, getting through the inning only three times. He relied on five runs of run support per game from his team, which saved him from losing even more games.
Don't let the 11-11 record throw you off guard. Look at the 6.36 era, the 19 home runs, and the 116/77 K to BB ratio. Those numbers definitely don't back up the record.
He deservedly began 2010 in the bullpen, where he probably should still be. He exited April with a 0.77 era in nine appearances. But this success, along with an injury to the equally ineffective Doug Davis prompted a promotion to the starting rotation.
Brewers fans cringed.
In July Parra had a 10-run outing, a five-run outing, and two four-run outings. He made it through the fifth only once.
Just Wednesday, he was cruising along against the Chicago Cubs, allowing only a solo home run to Tyler Colvin. He had six punchouts through five innings. His splitter was being located well to go along with a strong fastball.
Then it turned south, allowing five runs in the innings to blow a 3-1 lead and allow the Cubbies to break away. He couldn't even minimize the damage.
Looking at Parra's outings, it doesn't seem that the first few innings give him trouble. He can work out of jams and give up minimal damage, if any, and keep the team in the game. But anyone can do that.
It usually is the second and third times through the order that make Bob Uecker tell us that "Manny Pair-uh has given up four this inning and the Brewers trail, 5-2."
His "stuff" just doesn't seem to be effective for a length. Unlike the Roy Halladays, Cliff Lees or even guys like Carl Pavano, Parra doesn't have the ability to control every pitch and doesn't have the nasty breaking ball to rely on late in games.
He's forced to use every pitch he has early on. Hitters recognize this and have seen everything he has to give by the sixth inning. That would explain all of the 5.0, 5.1, and 5.2 inning appearances over his career.
Basically, he has good bullpen stuff.
The problem is that Macha and GM Doug Melvin seem to has endless trust in Parra. They see the potential—a word only used with underachieving players—and keep sending him out to the hill every fifth day.
You can't tell me that there isn't someone else that can do better than the California native. While Gallardo has succeeded expectations becoming a 2010 All-Star, Parra has had a few starts that show what he can accomplish.
But how much time can the Brewers afford to waste trying to allow him to finally blossom. They gave Rickie Weeks time, but he was decimated with injuries and now is a big run producer and superb leadoff hitter.
At $440k, at least Parra isn't making Jeff Suppan figures just to lose games. He becomes arbitration-eligible in 2011, but it is doubted that he will be given more money considering his performance.
The consequences aren't as severe for releasing him, or designating Parra to the bullpen. Either one would make plenty of Brewer fans give a sigh of relief not having to see Parra implode in the sixth again.
You've had your chance to impress, Manny. Now it's time for someone else to do the job.