Jenrry the navigator

Top prospect Jenrry Mejia, whose dazzling Grapefruit League performance prompted the Mets to place him on the Opening Day roster as a reliever, is expected to head to the minors to resume being used as a starting pitcher. That could be timed with R.A. Dickey’s activation before Wednesday’s start, a team source told….

The Mets could be facing major rotation issues behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey, so stretching out Mejia for starting work makes sense. Oliver Perez has been dispatched to the bullpen, John Maine — while largely producing of late — doesn’t have the zip he had in 2007 and Jon Niese has a mild right hamstring strain. The Mets will have Dickey face the Washington Nationals on Wednesday and use Hisanori Takahashi in place of Niese on Friday.

Adam Rubin,

Well, good. Stretching Mejia out in the Minors is the right move, even if it appears the Mets may have been forced into it by all the shakiness in their rotation. And Mejia’s stint as a Major League reliever will keep his innings total down for the season, plus — for whatever this is worth — give him a taste of big-league hitters and the confidence to know he can get them out.

Some will suggest that this was the plan all along, but, without any inside knowledge of the Mets’ thinking, I’d guess otherwise. I doubt that a team with a well-conceived and conservative plan for developing its best pitching prospect would ever allow him to pitch in four games in five nights, as he did in mid-April, or three games in a row as he did last week.

We can point to the examples of Johan Santana, Adam Wainwright and Francisco Liriano, but neither Wainwright nor Liriano ever endured those offenses, and Santana pitched in three consecutive games only once in parts of four seasons as a reliever. So it’s probably best that Mejia will now be out of the hands of a desperate manager prone to overusing relievers.

I’m not certain, though, that success will come as readily for Mejia the starter as it did for Mejia the reliever. It’s much, much easier to pitch well in one-inning stints than in six- or seven-inning ones, especially when you’ve got one dominant pitch. Mejia wasn’t great as a starter in Double-A last year and struggled in the Arizona Fall League. He looks like a good bet to be excellent eventually, but it might take some time. Developing and commanding a secondary arsenal is no small feat.

As for talk that the Mets are now somehow screwing with Mejia? I say this: Whatever. Maybe he never should have been in the bullpen in the first place, but if moving him back into a starting role now requires jerking him around, then the Mets should jerk him around. Starting pitchers are worlds more valuable than relievers, and top pitching prospects should be starting until they prove they can’t.

So all’s well that ends well. Here’s hoping Mejia quiets my doubts, dominates the Minors and makes a quick trip back to the Mets to reinforce their beleaguered rotation.

2 thoughts on “Jenrry the navigator

  1. Is there any reason to think this rash of reasonable decisions is the work of someone other then Omar?

    Toby Hyde makes the point over at MMiLB too. Is someone else at least helping steer the ship?

    Whoever it is must be smart. Steve Phillips told me so.

    • I have no idea. I sort of thought the same thing this offseason when they managed to avoid trading any prospects, but there’s always some chance that was the product of massive bureaucratic inefficiency and they gladly would have traded Mejia and Davis for Bronson Arroyo if only they could have gotten all the paperwork done.

      I think there’s a reasonable chance they backed into all the seemingly reasonable decisions they’ve come to lately. There was only so long they could keep Catalanotto and Jacobs around when it was clear they weren’t hitting and Carter was, especially with Francoeur struggling.

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