Thoughts from Joe D.
Reliever Vic Black has been optioned and will begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, the team announced via Twitter on Wednesday.
“I didn’t see it coming, but I also couldn’t expect anything different really because what I did was struggle all spring,” Black said. “And that’s not what they’re trying to put together on the team right now. Like they said, especially starting off, you’re trying to get hot out of the gates, and I didn’t give them the best opportunity for what they were hoping. I know they were disappointed, as am I, which is part of it. But I’ll be back.”
Black, 25, has had a rough spring training and in 10 Grapefruit League games he has posted a 5.79 ERA, allowing 13 hits while walking 10 batters, in 9.1 innings pitched.
No word yet on who replaces Black in the bullpen, perhaps Gonzalez Germen, but kudos to the Mets for making a tough decision like this, as much as it must have pained them to do so.
I felt as though things were heading this way for Black the last two weeks and I spoke to one prominent Pirates blogger who told me his inconsistency with command made it easy for the Pirates to move him in the Marlon Byrd deal.
Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call for Black, and that he can work himself back to the Mets in short order. It also has the added benefit of alerting all Mets pitchers about the importance of throwing strikes.
One last thing. For years I’ve hammered the Mets on occasion for a lack of accountability. What I mean is that they demand accountability from their players, but all too often would wait months before actually addressing poor production from one of their players. In fact, Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson would usually stand at the podium and make excuses for their players rather than taking action.
Cutting Vic Black was a refreshing departure from the status quo. It showed that the word accountability actually means something again and that there would be swift action if one’s results weren’t measuring up. Good to see.
It’s certainly a question worth asking. Black, who was considered a pillar in the pen after pitching impressively upon joining the Mets, has failed to carry that success into spring training. Thus far in 8 innings this spring, the 6’4 Texan has pitched to a 6.75 ERA. More concerning is his staggering nine free passes allowed in that span. Combined with the 12 hits allowed, and you can see why there’s reason to worry on the Mets part.
“I’m a little concerned,” Terry Collins told ESPN “He’s been out there enough that you would expect, No. 1, that even though his velocity may not be where he wants it that the command would be a little bit better.”
“Honestly, I think it’s just the time of year. I feel fine. Everything feels OK. Today I was just up [with pitch location], gave up some hits.” Black reasons, “The last few outings, though, everything is coming together. But I’ve honestly never been a spring guy. And I’m not coming up with excuses for what I’m doing. I mean, I left the ball up today and gave up runs. I tried to eliminate the free bases, but a hit by pitch doesn’t help.”
When Black mentions “today”, he’s speaking of his most recent outing in which he came on in relief of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 7th innings with a runner on base. In the disaster that followed, the right-hander would fail to record an out. Before his appearance was through, he’d allow an inherited runner to score after hitting a batter, surrendering a single, and finally unleashing a run-scoring wild pitch.
Despite his attempts to brush off his subpar spring, Vic realizes that his spot is not guaranteed.
“There’s no room for me to lay back and use what I did last year,” Black said. “… I like to think back to my two previous springs, and they were bumpy and rocky and trying to figure it out. But once the season came, there’s just something about games in-season that get me to click. I’m not relying on that, because they still need to see that I’m going to go out and compete and perform.”
Although Black has clearly been dreadful, I think he’ll still get a spot in the opening day bullpen. The Mets brass seem to like him and when it comes down to it he’s still one of our seven-best relievers. He should, however, be on a short leash.
Read the rest of Rubin’s article here.