Friday, March 30, 2012
Mike Pelfrey almost ready to be released?
Pelfrey further solidified his place in the rotation Thursday night, when he allowed one run in 6.1 innings Thursday night against Houston. His strongest outing of the Grapefruit League season left his ERA at 8.59.
“I saw all the things today that I have heard about,” Terry Collins said. “I saw a power sinker (with) that great movement, beating it in the dirt. He threw his curveball for strikes. Josh (Thole)said his split was outstanding tonight.”
Said Pelfrey: “The command was by far the best it has been all spring training. I did a good job of keeping the ball down.”
One team official characterized the recent discussion about cutting Pelfrey as “just what you do in meetings, throwing (stuff) against the wall, and we throw a lot of (stuff) against the wall,” and went on to predict that Pelfrey would have a strong year for the Mets.
But still: The very consideration of releasing Pelfrey and replacing him in the starting rotation with Chris Schwinden strongly suggests that club brass is not enamored of the seventh-year Met, who might very well be in his final season with the team —if he remains in New York for that long.
The perception of Pelfrey inside the clubhouse is much more positive. Beyond the standard platitudes of support, most Mets players still believe in Pelfrey, and are rooting for a teammate they like and respect. Pitching coach Dan Warthen raved about the revised mechanics that Pelfrey displayed in a recent appearance, which helped his velocity increase to 95 mph.
After that game, one Met made a case for retaining Pelfrey that was representative of how many players feel, saying, “If we got rid of him, he would (stick it to us).”
Teammates also offered genuinely favorable reviews after watching video of Pelfrey’s new mechanics, and felt that he had made an adjustment that could lead to a successful year.
As for the suggestion of releasing Pelfrey, part of the idea was the pitcher’s non-guaranteed contract. If the Mets cut him before Opening Day, they will owe him roughly $1 million of the $5.68 million he will be paid this season.
In the recent meeting, some in the front office wondered if that money would be better spent bolstering the Mets’ 2012 roster depth, with Schwinden in the rotation in place of Pelfrey. Schwinden remains in major-league camp, surviving another round of roster cuts on Thursday.
Pelfrey is an enigma. Talented enough to inspire continued belief among many Mets that he can be a solid starter, the 28-year-old has yet to experience sustained success, save for extended streaks of dominance in 2008 and 2010. A former first-round draft pick, he is 50-54 in his career.
Some of his longtime rivals, observing from a distance, believe that Pelfrey would benefit from pitching in a new city, free of the expectations of a fan base that often expresses its displeasure with him. “Pelfrey has good stuff,” said an NL East player who has faced Pelfrey for years. “But you wonder if he just needs to get out of New York and start over.”