The Bobby (Parnell) Situation

Any time I can make a reference to one of my favorite movies, Pulp Fiction, in a post about the Mets, clearly I am going to take it.

This time I am not contemplating any “IFs,” but rather looking for a Winston Wolfe-type of person to come in and clean up the mess of Bobby Parnell. This situation I am terming “The Bobby (Parnell) Situation.”

Some folks, like my friend Richie S from Random Mets Thoughts suggest that the Bobby-Parnell-as-closer experiment be shut down yesterday (and hopefully prior to the meltdown on Saturday to get a “do-over.”). I can understand. After all, Robert Allen Parnell (not to be confused with a seemingly effective Robert Allen…”RA” Dickey) has been with the team in some capacity since 2008. He’s one of those quintessential pitchers with “good stuff” (loose translation means: “he throws really really hard”). However, he hasn’t quite figured out how to harness it.

However, I won’t go so far as to say that the experiment should be closed and we need to move on. Yes, I do know that he’s blown three saves in ONE damn week. Yes, I know it’s incredibly aggravating to see him come in during the 9th, especially when we’ve been a little almost to a degree (ahem) “fortunate” with some good closers in the last few years with Billy Wagner and Francisco Rodriguez. Yes, I remember how much those two made my ulcer heat up. For the most part, we were lucky. Okay LUCKIER THAN MOST. I digress. Anyway, some might feel the Bobby Parnell Experiment situation is over. But I see it is just beginning.

See, we had the pleasure on the Kult of Mets Personalities to have former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson as a guest, and the Krew asked him about his feelings on Bobby Parnell. The theory (which is flawed) is that if a pitcher can hit 97, 98, 99, even 100 MPH on the gun, that the strike outs should come easily. Not so, and we’ve seen this issue with Parnell on many occasions. Peterson even said that hitters can swing over 100 MPH. The problem is Parnell doesn’t have an out pitch nor is his pitching cadence consistent. Peterson points out that many pitchers with hittable “stuff” (think: Burnett, AJ) has to do with the fact that their foot positioning is inconsistent. Their arm position may not only be tipping their pitches beforehand, but also that their arms are throwing while their foot has not come down.

Considering this guy managed to help Oliver Perez win 15 games in 2007, I’m willing to take his position seriously and not just with a grain of salt. These mechanical flaws can not only tip the hitters off, but cause the pitcher to keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Likewise, I’ve mentioned before that I think Dan Warthen is pretty worthless. Fact is, we have not seen much marked improvement on the pitching staff which can go many ways. Mike Pelfrey I think is too stubborn to listen to advice, and that he and Peterson did not click when he was there. However, look at pitchers who pretty much developed under Warthen’s watch: Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, even Parnell. The former two are serviceable pitchers but have not taken the next level of their careers. This could be a problem and cause the Mets to do something drastic, like trade them when they have not only good stuff, but they “get it.”

Here’s my thing with Parnell: I actually have advocated he be the closer for the Mets. I think out of all the Mets’ home grown pitchers, he has the most potential for the bullpen and that can be very valuable. He also “gets it.” See, what kind of annoys me but at the same time gives me hope is that he ALWAYS knows when he messes up. Yet, he can’t seem to learn what he is doing wrong in those moments. He also has a mentality I think to not only be taught the changes, but that he gets the idea of being a closer. It takes a special type of pitcher to balance that.

I think he can do it, he needs to be taught. I think he could be receptive.

He’s not Billy Wagner, he’s not Frankie Rodriguez, he’s certainly not Trevor Hoffman or anyone of that ilk…YET. He could be, and this is why I think Bobby Parnell could be taught the mechanics of being a good closer of the future for the Mets. Especially if he feels he can do it. To me, that’s half the battle.

In closing, I respectfully disagree with my friend Richie S, but I hope that doesn’t hinder the next beer he plans to buy…

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2 comments

  1. I just hope he doesn’t turn into another Heath Bell, where the Mets give up on him too soon, then watch helplessly as Parnell turns into a quality reliever somewhere else.

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