I really try to avoid the pitfalls of letting a game or two get to me. However in lieu of Sunday’s implosion of Frankie Rodriguez, his latest in a line of many, my jerking knee isn’t bothering my conscience quite as much as I thought it would.
Earlier this year Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel fawned over minor league phenom pitcher, Jenrry Mejia. Somehow through that love affair the kid surprisingly made the major league team right out of Spring. It was a desperate move then and looking back, it remains the same.
Especially considering one, the kid had barely over 200 innings of work in the minors and two, unbeknownst to him, he was anointed by Jerry Manuel and few other prominent figures around the team, a future Mariano Rivera armed with a Godly cutter and all.
No pressure there Jenrry. Here’s the ball, have fun. Nobody ever accused the Mets of being masters of public relations but this situation took the cake for me. Instead of dealing with the reality of not having a bona-fide set-up man, Minaya and Manuel decided to thrust Jenrry Mejia into the spotlight.
Why? Do I really have to ask? Remember, during Spring, both Minaya and Manuel were a Metro Card away from taking the 7 train out of Citifield. Anyway, what was done was done and yes Mejia did gain major league knowledge, but at what cost?
As of now he’s still out of commission with an injury. The plan before the injury, stretch him out to become a starter. I love that phrase, stretch him out, as if he’s a human Stretch Armstrong. That’s an old toy back in the day for you digital kids here.
It is very tempting to get an arm like his in the rotation. Just as tempting as it was for the Yankees to have Mariano Rivera go nine. If some of you remember Rivera wasn’t always thought of as a closer. He went from prospective starter to set-up man to the Mariano Rivera we know today.
He’s pretty much the antithesis of Frankie Rodriquez. He’s quiet, controlled, completely unflashy yet devastatingly effective, and oh yes, a future Hall of Famer.
Frankie Rodriguez would have fit in perfectly with the early 90’s Mets. He’s style over substance. Don’t get me wrong he was a pretty fantastic closer and at the time the Mets signed him, he was the best closer available on the market. That was then and this is now.
Then, while he was in Anaheim, Frankie was bringing the heat, regularly hitting 98 on the radar gun. Today he’s topping out at 92, but mostly around 90-91. Couple that with his erratic delivery, his arm slot is never the same game to game. It prompts one to wonder why Anaheim didn’t try to bring the single season saves record holder back? What can the Mets do at this point? He’s signed through next year. However there are a few options, unfortunately if the team hits the skids, that could pan out.
Between now and the trade deadline the Mets would have to completely fall apart, to even entertain trading Rodriguez. None of us or the Mets are hoping for that obviously.
So let’s focus on next year, and what Jenrry Mejia could provide the Mets if they’re willing to go down that road with him. Instead of focusing on Mejia becoming a starter I’d have him when he’s healthy, working on his fastball and cutter and his command.
Mariano Rivera made his debut in 1995, appearing in 19 games for the Yankees that year, starting 10 of them. Starting simply wasn’t his forte and in 1996 Mariano Rivera became John Wetteland’s set-up man and did he ever blossom.
Pitching over 100 innings that year Rivera had an ERA slightly over 2 and racked 130 K’s. The second year stud was 12th in MVP voting that year, and earned his first of 5 World Series rings.
Jenrry Mejia next year, at some point, should join the team and truly set-up for Frankie Rodriguez. He should not be handed the empty innings that Manuel gave him earlier this season, which by the way, was a clear sign to me that he and Minaya were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, while giving themselves enough wiggle room in case things went sour for the kid.
It was a terrible way to initiate your franchise’s supposed diamond in the rough. It was unfair to the fans but most especially unfair to Mejia. With hard work and a CLEAR game-plan, with proper expectations, Mejia could make his way back to Flushing and who knows, perhaps one day, make good on those Mariano Rivera comparisons. Only time will tell.