Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen worries me sometimes. I understand that he was spared a trip to the guillotine thanks to the efforts of R.A. Dickey and Mike Pelfrey who both made last minutes pleas for clemency, but I’ve never really been a big fan of his.
As we’ve all heard countless times already this offseason, the Mets plan to have Jenrry Mejia work as a starting pitcher at Triple-A Buffalo this season where he will get some much needed seasoning and hone his skills as a starter.
Both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have stated he will spend most of 2011 in the minors and that he will work exclusively as a starter. Both have acknowledged that Mejia would have to be spectacular if he were to make the big-league roster as a starter.
Yesterday, a few of the Mets beat reporters reported comments that Warthen made, in which he referred to Mejia as being more of a bullpen arm – a reliever.
“A lot of people, because of his young age, still feel that he’s going to be a fairly good starter. That’s why baseball is so interesting. You can have differences of opinion and go on from there. I still pretty much believe that Mejia is going to be a very good reliever in the big leagues.”
Warthen even compared Mejia to Yankee great Mariano Rivera.
“I think Mejia works really hard to throw the baseball and I worry about the volume of pitches during the course of a year. I worry because you just watch his arm swing. It’s a long arm swing. His ball naturally cuts like a Mariano Rivera. If Mariano had to go out there and throw 100 pitches every fifth day, when a ball cuts all the time, instead of staying behind it, I think you find a lot of torque on your elbow and your shoulder. But, again, that’s a singular opinion.”
Although I love the comparison to one as great as Rivera, all he is doing is comparing their arm movement and how they deliver the pitch and the strain it places on the elbow.
Lets assume for a moment that Warthen is right, doesn’t it show some sort of a disconnect between the front office, the manger and their pitching coach? Clearly, they are not on the same page.
Obviously, as a reliever, Mejia’s value shrinks and his trade value decreases dramatically. Even the worst farm systems have a young fire baller or two that are future relievers – they are not that hard to find. It’s in the Mets best interest to see their top prospect remain a starter. It’s sort of like the Wilmer Flores situation. Everyone in the world knows he is not a shortstop, but the Mets keep playing him there because a shortstop who can hit is more valuable than a corner outfielder or infielder who can hit.
I don’t think it was wise for Warthen to make such comments openly and instead he should have simply expressed any concerns to his bosses and leave it at that.
I am now concerned about the possibility Warthen may be right, and if so, are we taking a huge risk by having Mejia throw 100 pitches every fifth day up in Buffalo and perhaps risk a potential costly elbow injury.
If you recall, Mejia was hurt twice last season. Once for a back issue, and then with a shoulder issue which caused him to be shut down for the remainder of the season.
I just hope they know what they’re doing with this kid, because in the little we saw of him last season we saw some flashes of brilliance and an electric fastball.
Hopefully Warthen is wrong, and Mejia does develop into a top of the rotation starter who can join the team and bolster our chances for a division title in 2012.