In light of this past week’s horrific disappointments, I would like to dedicate my next couple of articles outlining some things that I consider “Mets Myths”. I hate to say it, but even when this team looked great in June, the following fears have lingered, and I now feel like they can no longer be avoided.
The sooner the Mets organization comes to grips with these epiphanies (I kid), the sooner we can get back to legitimacy.
Myth #1: Mike Pelfrey is a good pitcher.
At first I thought this heading was exaggerated but the more I thought about it the more I realized is that it’s the truth.
Mike Pelfrey has never shown anything, in his entire professional career, to signify that he will ever be an ace. End of story. A handful of brilliant stretches do not define a larger body of work.
Based on what I have seen since his major league debut, I feel that Mr. Pelfrey will always have trouble even being a consistent pitcher in the Majors and here is why; First of all, I think his stuff has been way overrated and exaggerated since day one. Yes he has a solid sinker, but so do about 150 other major league pitchers today (not to mention Eddie Kunz). His secondary pitches have never been anything above average and they still continue to lag, let’s not discuss his new splitter (which is getting scalded for two months now). Even the man’s sinker is nothing special most of the time for one simple reason, which leads us to his second largest hindrance; Mike Pelfrey has never shown consistent command.
Mental weakness aside, Pelfrey’s biggest Achilles heal throughout his career is that he has no command of any of his pitches. He tries to pitch inside, but makes mistakes, so then he keeps the ball away (for months at a time), and makes mistakes. It is very rare that he comes close to hitting his targets. I’m no scout, but this is awfully hard to argue.
When you combine a fragile mental state with middling command, along with only one above average major league quality pitch, you get a 5th starter…AT BEST!
Month-long stretches of great pitching does not signify dominance.
I know he’s got great size for a pitcher, and he has been a organizational darling for a long time now, but please let’s start fooling ourselves….it will never happen.
Myth #2: Luis Castillo isn’t hurting us.
I have noticed that Mets fans have been very easy on Luis for the past year and half, in fact only recently have I seen fellow mourners…I mean fans, beginning to grumble about Mr. Castillo again. Not sure why this complete albatross of a contract has been getting a pass from Mets fans.
Here’s the truth. Luis Castillo is nowhere near an every day ballplayer. In fact, I doubt his usefulness as a bat off the bench. Anyone notice that our offense went into a massive slump almost to the day that this void has returned to the lineup? Not only has Castillo’s lack of range cost us almost a hit per game, but his spot in the lineup is a black hole. He takes too many pitches, he kills rallies, and even when he walks, he does not disrupt the pitcher with his speed any more. In other words he is killing the Mets!
I would rather take my chances with the youthful energy of Reuben Tejada any day, over the broken down, uselessness of Luis Castillo. I just feel that his presecnce in the lineup and in the clubhouses injects a sort of ineptness that the Mets as a team cannot afford.
Luis is listed as being 34, but he looks and plays like he is 44. This isn’t an exaggeration.
Myth #3: Johan Santana is still an Ace.
I know that a lot of Mets fans, have already begun to come to grips with this harrowing realization, but I think the remaining arguments against this sad fact are dwindling. I think it’s safe to say that his dominating stuff is gone. Long gone. In fact, it seems like the moment he put on that Mets uniform, his stuff has regressed with every start. Yes he had a great first year with the Mets, and yes he has had some clutch, dominating performances. But let’s not kid ourselves, and Ace he is no more.
I know stuff isn’t everything, but Johan Santana has become who he is, based on a vicious fastball and an unhittable changeup. That’s it! Two Pitches! Don’t pitchers get demoted to the bullpen with only two pitches? I don’t want to hear about his great slider because we rarely see it, and if he doesn’t throw it, then it’s worthless.
Now im not saying that Johan is no longer a good pitcher, nor am I saying he should be demoted to the bullpen. I am simply saying that he was an ace who has always been a two-pitch pitcher, but used to have dominating stuff that allowed him to overmatch hitters. Now that his stuff is gone, we are learning why starters with only two pitches are few and far between. Johan still has his remarkable changeup; the problem is that his fastball is no longer and above average major league pitch. If you can’t establish your fastball, your changeup becomes infinitely more hittable.
The reason that it appears like his command is not what it used to be, is that hitter can lay off his changeups quite easily now. They don’t have to start their swing early in preparation of his 94-95 MPH heat, so they can wait back and recognize or foul off combios.
Fastball quality isn’t only about ticks on a radar gun. One can see how explosive a fastball is by the swings the batters take, and let me tell you, most hitters do not look cheated hacking at a Johan number one.
Dominant Johan is gone forever. Let’s get used to this now guys. By next year, he will be a $20 million dollar, good starter.
Oh and don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a huge multi part gripe session, with no proposed solutions. I’ll save that for the finale.