by Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
There’s a tale of two Robert Allens that I’m sure I’m missing with the Mets this year.
What do we do with him?
I make no apologies that I happen to be a Bobby Parnell fan. I’ve written ad nauseum about how the Mets infamously destroyed the development of Aaron Heilman, and never effectively used him (sue me, but I always though he was better off as a starter, and the way the Mets kept dangling the carrot of “pitch well out of the bullpen, and we’ll make you a starter” only to turn around and say “now, you’re too valuable in the ‘pen, so we’ll keep you there,” as the likes of Brian Lawrence and Dave Williams got starts, was beyond me…kind of reminded me of my ascent in corporate America, but that’s the besides the point). I could say the exact thing about Bobby Parnell. He’s got good stuff. The Mets just don’t know how to friggin use him.
Bobby Parnell is curious. They tried their hand as a starter but that didn’t work very well. He’s one of those cases of having a very fast fastball…it’s also a very STRAIGHT, big meatball type of a fast fastball.
I call him the “Pedro Cerrano of pitchers,” as Cerrano could hit the straight ball very much. Parnell’s straight ball gets hit very much, but it was his curveball that literally knocked hitters for a loop on Tuesday night against the Nationals.
As my friend BlondiesJake has commented to me, 100-mph-pitchers don’t grow on trees. This is exactly the type of guy you work with. Couple that with his curveball, and this could easily be the closer of the future.
As Rick Vaughan taught us in the movie Major League, keen and crisp eye sight and coaching can do a pitcher well. And Bobby Parnell needs a bit of that. Maybe he doesn’t need the skull-and-crossbones glasses. What he needs is a little effective coaching. To get his act together that is.
So these are my solutions to that Bobby Parnell issue.
1) Get Dan Warthen the hell out of dodge. I’ve said before that this guy sucks. Don’t give him any credit for RA Dickey – he’s a self-made pitcher (just watch the movie Knuckleball and you’ll see most of his advice comes from other knuckleballers). Yet, look at Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. They’re both good pitchers. But they’re not really getting any better either, and these are the years they should be. I could only imagine the incriminating photos Warthen has on people in the Mets organization. Maybe it was the same photos that David Newhan had at one point, or maybe the pics Tony Bernazard did.
2) Curveball. Curveball, curveball, curveball. Did I mention, curveball?
3) Keep working with him. I can’t stress this enough. For some reason, I have a great deal of faith in Parnell, that he’ll come around. As I mentioned before, I keep the story of Aaron Heilman as a cautionary tale for me, as a fan. The Mets have been infamous at ruining careers of prospects, especially young pitchers. A few years ago, with a lame duck manager and general manager, they brought up Jenrry Mejia – a kid who was projected to be a starter, to throw him in the bullpen. I guess, call me crazy…I get the idea that if you have a young arm that you want to get some major league exposure without the pressure of starting, throw him in the ‘pen. But that philosophy is a flawed one, at best. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. Mejia may have taken steps back in his development. Don’t do the same to Harvey…and don’t let a guy with heat like Parnell simply walk away.
4) Mets have great pitchers. Yeah, I said it. But they need better catchers to work with the starters. I like Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, but they’re just not the guys for the job unfortunately. A few different pitch calls the other night, we wouldn’t even have had the discussion of “Bobby Parnell bites the big one.”
Look, I get that he seems to be a bit of a crapshoot when he’s out there. But there’s something there. He’s not a total headcase like an Oliver Perez or Aaron Heilman (which I will say till I’m blue in the face, he only became a head case because of the way the Mets treated him). He owns up to his mistakes and does seem to learn from them. Furthermore, as BlondiesJake and I are willing to stress, 100 mph pitchers don’t grow on trees.
I know it was Hollywood, but without “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughan, where would the 1989 Cleveland Indians had gone in the movie Major League. They were patient, worked with him, and got to the playoffs.
Can’t say that about the Mets per se. But I can say that sticking with Bobby Parnell could be a great thing for this team. So stick with him.