Mike Pelfrey may be at the end of his tenure with the Mets
The New York Mets have a lot of good, young pitching in their system. The current rotation at the major league level has two of them already in it, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
The farm system has names like Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia and Zack Wheeler among the mix for the future. There is one name that is in the present, though, that Mets fan would rather do without. That name is Mike Pelfrey.
Pelfrey was drafted in 2006 and has posted some not-so-great numbers in his tenure so far. He has a 4.36 ERA, a 1.45 WHIP and a 49-51 record. In other words, he has been far from effective.
When Terry Collins took over as manager this past offseason, he proclaimed Pelfrey to be the "staff ace" in the absence of Johan Santana.
The pressure proved to be too great for the fragile psyche of the pitcher and has resulted in one of his worst seasons yet. He is 6-10 with a large 4.61 ERA. He has been on the losing end or no-decision end of too many games for this team this year. The Mets and their fans are beginning to tire of the ineffectiveness.
They have tried to help him fix his mechanics. They have helped him get a sports psychologist. They have done everything they can to help Pelfrey reach his potential. The only option that remains for the organization is to trade him. This seems to be the best option for both sides, in fact.
There are five essential reasons why.
Mike Pelfrey can be a streaky pitcher. A good streak can help a contender.
Reason No. 1: Value
The New York Mets are not in contention. In fact, it's safe to say they have not been in serious contention since June. They may not be in serious contention again until 2013. However, they can still build for that future now.
They have shown they intend to do this already by trading names like Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez (though that was more to save money than to get value back).
They have several players that have some value for a contending team. Mike Pelfrey is one of them. Mike Pelfrey has been a very streaky pitcher. His streaks are more bad than good this year, which says one of two things. Either, he could be due for a hot streak soon, or he could be a complete bust.
Most fans would quickly argue for the ladder, but the Mets need to hope that contending teams are thinking the former. If other teams see him as a decent pitcher that eats innings, they may be interested in acquiring him for a September run.
After all, he is an experienced pitcher as opposed to a young gun that a team would call up in September from their farm system. That experience could help a team in a short-term tenure. That's the only thing the Mets can hope for if they realize that he needs to go.
Dealing Mike Pelfrey could be part of a bigger picture
Reason No. 2: Saving Money
The Mets have had their monetary issues over the past year or so. That is not a secret. The Bernie Madoff scandal has affected them from top to bottom in the organization. It has caused them to be millions of dollars in debt. They have dealt two major players (Beltran and K-Rod) and cut other massive contracts (Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo) in the span of just a few months in an attempt to clear their finances.
Though he is not making a large amount of money, Mike Pelfrey can still save the Mets money for two reasons. First, he is due to enter his second year of arbitration in the offseason. His agent, Scott Boras, will most likely be asking for a bigger contract next year as opposed to this year. It will be an unjustified raise but a raise nonetheless.
Secondly, he is making nearly $4 million this year. Though most of it has been earned already, he is still owed a quarter of that for the remainder of the year. In other words, he is due at least $1 million for the next month-and-a-half. That is money that could be used to pay a draft pick or young talent that they acquire from a Pelfrey trade.
While it is true that this would hardly make a dent in their debt, the Mets could use the money they save on him this year and next year to help pay someone that produces better under pressure. They could use the money they would put into him to re-sign Jose Reyes.
Mike Pelfrey could be an essential part of the long-term plan by not being there to be a part of the long-term plan.
Pat Misch is one of the players that can benefit from a Pelfrey trade
Reason No. 3: Experience for Others
As I mentioned previously, the Mets have a lot of arms in the farm system. While the Matt Harvey's, Zack Wheeler's and Jenrry Mejia's of the minors are not ready for prime time, there are other pitchers that may be. Among them are Pat Misch, Chris Schwinden, Josh Stinson, Brad Holt and Tobi Stoner.
While a few of them may get a chance in the rare September 1st call-ups, two of them, Stoner and Misch have limited experience with the Mets and limited success to go along with that experience.
Stoner has a career 3.97 ERA in a handful of innings that spans the past two seasons. Misch has been with the organization since 2007 but has never really had an extended look.
He has a career 4.60 ERA in his handful of appearances with the big club. Though he has been very good at the minor league level, the club has not shown him the patience that they have shown other pitchers, like Pelfrey who get chance after chance to fail.
Schwinden is in Buffalo, the Triple-A affiliate, while Holt and Stinson are in Double-A in Binghamton. All would bring an enthusiasm and fresh arm that Pelfrey just has not shown this year.
Pelfrey's departure would open another spot for someone that otherwise would get an undeserved snub.
Mike Pelfrey has made Terry Collins' life difficult as of late
Reason No. 4: Distractions
The New York Mets manager has dealt with several distractions this year. From deciding where to play Carlos Beltran in the outfield to who will close after K-Rod is gone, Collins has navigated well through the storms of the New York media. He handled the many Beltran trade rumors, the months of Jose Reyes rumors, the multiple injuries and the terrible bullpen very well.
Mike Pelfrey has added to his stress level in just the past week.
Last week, he was quoted in the NY Post as saying "It's unrealistic for anybody at the end of last year to come in and say, 'The Mets, this is a one-year thing, next year we're going to win it all,' " Pelfrey said before the Mets' 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks last night. "It's unrealistic."
While I will be the first to admit he is right and hindsight has proven him to be right, most fans were outraged by these comments. They felt as though he entered the season never really believing in the team, and therefore, not fully on board with what this year's version of the Mets were in store for.
The rest of the interview is very different though. He went on to say that he did believe the team was moving in the right direction and will become a contender for years to come, eventually. However, the backlash of the initial comments resonated loudly in the clubhouse and throughout the media. So much so that Terry Collins had to address the interview as an incident in a one on one closed door meeting with the pitcher before the next day's game.
The air was cleared between the two of them, but it became one more black eye for Pelfrey in the eyes of the fans. It's one thing to blatantly stink on the field. It's another thing entirely to suggest that you never thought this team would be good and therefore not worth a good effort.
Though these were not the exact words, it is the perception of the statement, and therefore, perception may be reality here. The media storm will continue to grow until it gets out of control in the clubhouse, and Pelfrey becomes another disgruntled, losing pitcher for a bad team. That's not what this team needs or wants.
They need someone that will be glad to don a Mets cap. Someone that will be proud to put on the blue and orange uniform. That is what the Mets need to take that next step. A disgruntled player only creates more distractions. That's one thing Terry Collins has too much of.
He doesn't need another one.
Mike Pelfrey has developed a fragile psyche in New York
Reason No. 5: He's Better Off
In sports, teams trade players frequently. Most of the time, it is to the benefit of the team. History proves how beneficial the trades were to each team by the performance of the players in both short-term and long-term scenarios. A contending team can deem the trade as a success or a failure by the production of the midseason acquisition for their playoff push.
It only takes a few months to see the end result in this case. For the other team, however, the results can take years to see how the talent they acquired will pan out. Most of the time, trades are good for the team. There are some cases, though, where a trade will be more advantageous for the player than the team. This is the case for Mike Pelfrey.
Sometimes, a player needs a change of scenery. If there is a player in the major leagues today that is a better example of this than Pelfrey, I have not seen him. In his career, Pelfrey has never posted an ERA lower than 3.66. That's mostly in a pitcher's park.
This year, however, it has not mattered where he throws. Pitcher's parks, band boxes, home, away. It's all the same. He has been abysmal. The world of sports is played mostly in the mind. This is especially true in baseball. Mike Pelfrey has had a sports psychologist for a few years now.
He had the same psychologist to talk to and/or visit before and after starts to discuss the battle between pitcher and batter for all of last year. Unfortunately last offseason, his therapist passed away. He and the Mets have had a difficult time helping him find someone to fill that void as effectively.
I understand the need in sports for such a thing as a sports psychologist, however, if someone is in need of this, they do not need the added pressure of the spotlight of the New York media. Their psyche is fragile enough without being blown to smithereens by the whirlwind of critiques and second-guessing by hundreds of journalists and knowledgeable fans everyday.
This is why he may be better off by being traded. It may help him regain his focus and his confidence, thereby helping him regain his control and his mechanics. He'll stop overthinking and start pitching. He has not been able to do this in New York, and he most likely never will. It is far too demanding of an atmosphere for him to thrive in.
He is much more built for a Midwest type of team that is less demanding and more encouraging of their athletes.
The Mets would be better off and so would he.
Mike Pelfrey has been more of a detriment than an asset
In closing, Mike Pelfrey has been a highly-drafted prospect that has yet to pan out in the Mets system. With high draft status comes high expectations. He has not lived up to the hype, and he may never will in New York.
The Mets need to move him while he still has value. They must move him to save some money. They have to move him to make way for younger and better players. They have to move him to create less distractions. They must move him for the benefit of his fragile psyche.
There are a number of more reasons that make sense, but one thing is for sure: it is not only a smart thing for the Mets to do, it is a necessary thing for the Mets to do. For his sanity and ours.
This has to get done.