I get a lot of heat for being a Mike Pelfrey fan. While I refuse to defend everything he does on the mound, I do root harder for him than probably any other Met. I’ve admitted in the past that I have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to him. While I don’t want to see him go, the reality was that if there were a time of move Pelfrey from the Mets, it would have been when his stock was at its highest, after the end of 2010. There were a few moves that in hindsight Sandy Alderson probably could have made in addition to the easy moves such as releasing Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez prior to the season. However, 20/20 hindsight is always counterproductive.
It should not surprise you that I come in praise of Mike Pelfrey. Now, I understand that apparently, he’s ruffled some feathers in the past few days, in the very vocal fan base and even with that ever famous “anonymous” source in the clubhouse who had some very choice words for Pelfrey. Of course, you have to take these quotes with a grain of salt, since they are clearly taken out of a larger context and we really have no idea what the journalist had asked him specifically to garner such a response.
“It’s unrealistic for anybody at the end of last year to come in and say, ‘The Mets, this is a one-year thing, next year we’re going to win it all,’ ” Pelfrey said before the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks last night. “It’s unrealistic.“
In the article itself, Mike Puma relates that Pelfrey was speaking directly in response to how Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins were going to cause an immediate shift in the Mets dynamic. Was what Pelfrey said that bad? I don’t think so. I mean, Fred Wilpon said things about specific PLAYERS (the only thing he said about the team was that they are “shitty,” meanwhile he allowed all this shit to happen on his watch not just in recent years but in several decades of futility and brief years of respite that he’s allowed to be used to take advantage of the fanbase), and targeted people on the team who have played injured because they have been forced to.
But going back to Pelfrey’s analysis, I happen to think he was spot on. It WAS unrealistic to think that the Mets would automatically have a great season. Now, they have been hovering around .500 all season. This is exactly the team they were projected to be. EONS better than what they were the last two seasons.
But you have to love how his quote gets thrown around and one of his “unnamed” teammates comes out and says:
“He’s cutting his own throat…What’s his record, six and nine? He’s supposed to be the ace of the [bleeping] staff. Why don’t you go and win 12 or 13 games?”
Considering this is a) a team sport and b) he was ONLY the ‘ace’ (a term that’s not as clearly defined in today’s game as it was 15-20 years ago) because their own ace has been under the knife each year that he’s been on the team, this player is obviously missing the point.
And also, remember in April, R.A. Dickey said (after a particularly miserable 5-13 start) that he was done with excuses.
Maybe, he said, they really were not better than their record. They had to stop kidding themselves and identify their problems. Dickey said he had simply grown tired of hearing excuses, adding that teammates had told him they appreciated his message. But Dickey, as a starting pitcher, is limited in what he can do.
I love R.A. Dickey. Yes, he’s been around and is a comeback player and everyone loves him and how down to Earth he is. However, he’s not been on the team that long. And he got away with saying something like that because most of all, at the time, we agreed with him. So now Pelfrey is getting thrown under the bus because he’s speaking his mind? Perhaps as Greg Prince at Faith and Fear said earlier, it’s because we were shocked to find that he had one, not that he spoke it.
The fact is, Mike Pelfrey is not an ace. Yes, I root for him, but he’s been misidentified as one in the past. Pelfrey could obviously be a lot better than who he is. Our own Gene has even commented that when he came in to close the 20-inning debacle against St Louis in 2010, that was the confident Pelfrey, that was the proud Pelfrey.
However, I got to thinking why everyone was so up in arms about Pelfrey and what he said. I’ve made no bones about how much I like him and want to see him succeed as a Met. I then go on to say that I understand his limitations and think he should have been traded at the height of his success last season. I can go to both sides because I am realistic about him and his limitations.
Yet, I think what he says is a kernel of truth because Pelfrey represents the Mets. Not just by wearing the uniform and pitching every fifth day. But because he represents all our hopes and fears related to the team.
Mike Pelfrey was drafted in 2005. He was touted as the next big thing, all 6’7″ of him, flame-thrower, etc. Mets fans love a good pitching story because of our infatuation with them, starting with the Franchise himself, Tom Seaver. So along with the Omar Minaya era that started that same year, Pelfrey represented a new age of “pitching, speed and defense” (emphasizing the pitching part for Pelfrey himself).
When the Mets were on a tear and taking over the NL East in 2006, Mike Pelfrey was brought up to start a few games. While I was apprehensive at first (he was only in the minors ONE YEAR, barely!), I was so excited to see our newest homegrown talent. He was saved by the bat of Jose Valentin in his first start. Then again, 2006 was saved by the bats and the pitching was scarce. Perhaps Pelfrey was like the Mets in 2006, and bit off more than they all could chew, which led to some crazy reactionary decisions by the front office that we are still trying to dig out from under.
In 2007, Pelfrey was supposed to be a saving grace. Yet, he had no business being on a major league roster then. Like the rest of the team, expectations were piled higher and deeper on him and he fell just short, like the team did that year.
In 2008, Pelfrey had his “break out” year, and gave us a glimmer of hope, just like the Mets did prior to fizzling out in their postseason campaign for that year.
In 2009, CitiField was a destination for no one as injuries befell the team and expectations were lowered and they subsequently played to them. Mike Pelfrey, however, was representative of that. He fell short of his own performance in the year prior, and along with it came the idea that he was unreliable.
In 2010, the Mets were finally going to come out from under bad contracts and bad management and Pelfrey once again provided a glimmer of hope that he would be what we wanted and expected him to be. Yet, I kept hearing terms to describe him that simply scapegoated Pelfrey that he could do no right.
Why does it bother us about what Pelfrey said?
It’s because he is the Mets and is representative of what the team has done.
He is the high-expectation, low-performance team. He is the ray of light that we can see when the team is at its darkest. He is someone who goes underappreciated when he does well simply because we’ve been bitten so many times, when he does well we’re twice shy because of it.
Mike Pelfrey represents us all, as the Mets performance, and as the Mets’ fans. Good for him for speaking his mind, though as the Mets have pointed out, it’s not always their “ace” guys who are doing the speaking up.