Inbox: Surveying the post-Pelfrey landscape
Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers Mets fans' questions
Coming off a series sweep to the Astros, the Inbox is overflowing with questions about New York's rotation -- specifically, Mike Pelfrey's former spot in it. The once-durable right-hander underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery earlier this week, knocking him out for the rest of the season.
What does that mean for Pelfrey going forward? What does it mean for the Mets? The rotation? We take a look at those and other questions in this latest edition of the Inbox:
Because of Mike Pelfrey's inconsistency as a Met, will he be a part of the Mets' plans looking toward the future, since he's still pretty young?
-- Vito S., Staten Island, N.Y.
As any player, coach or front-office executive will tell you, this is a business -- meaning players are measured in dollars and cents just as much as home runs and ERA. At no point in a player's career is that more true than during the arbitration process, when players and teams exchange hard figures of how much they believe each eligible player is worth.
Pelfrey went through that process with the Mets for a second time this winter, with the two sides agreeing on a $5.68 million contract. There was some talk earlier in the offseason that the Mets might non-tender Pelfrey, basically severing all ties without pay. But the Mets knew that, if nothing else, Pelfrey could provide value with his ability to eat innings on a year-to-year basis.
Have a question about the Mets?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Now, that selling point has vanished. Even if Pelfrey recovers from surgery about as quickly as the Mets could reasonably hope, he almost certainly will not be ready until next May, at the earliest. And there are no guarantees as to how effective Pelfrey might be upon his return.
That's a roundabout way of saying that the Mets will very likely non-tender Pelfrey after this season, possibly ending his tenure with the team for good. Because Pelfrey will be arbitration-eligible one last time, he cannot make less than $4.5 million through the arbitration system -- and could wind up commanding even more than the $5.68 million he is making this year. That's a lot for any team to pay a pitcher coming off surgery, let alone for a team that has been so fiscally prudent the past two offseasons. Barring a non-tender decision and subsequent Minor League deal, another summer of Pelfrey in New York simply does not seem likely.
With Pelfrey out for the season, why don't the Mets call up Matt Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo?
-- Sean S., Chicago
There have been times when Harvey has looked unhittable at Buffalo, and most scouts will tell you he could at least hold his own in the Majors right now. But the Mets do not want Harvey to come to New York and simply hold his own; they want him to succeed, to dominate, to come to New York and never head back down to the Minors. So they will not promote him until he demonstrates consistency at Buffalo, start in and start out.
That does not mean stringing together two or three strong starts in a row. It means doing it every five days without exception.
The Mets have been adamant about that throughout the early part of this season, using a philosophy that's not exclusive to Harvey. The organization is preaching patience with all of its top pitching prospects, from Harvey to Jeurys Familia to Zack Wheeler to Jenrry Mejia. The organization has no plans to promote anyone who is not absolutely ready, even if that means proceeding with a rotation stopgap -- Chris Schwinden, Jeremy Hefner or anyone else -- in the interim.
Are the Mets going to do anything about Jason Bay if he doesn't produce? I understand that he's making a ton of money, but he has been such a huge bust. Perhaps a trade?
-- Kei O., Brooklyn, N.Y.
What team would trade for a 33-year-old outfielder with an ever-growing injury history who has not enjoyed a successful big league season since 2009 -- and who, by the way, still has a year and a half and at least $19 million of guaranteed money remaining on his contract? It's not plausible unless the Mets basically eat Bay's entire contract, which would defeat the purpose of trading him in the first place. If it even matters, Bay also holds a full no-trade clause and could veto any deal.
New York's best course of action regarding Bay is to get him healthy and hope that he starts to produce. At this point, there are no other options.
The one interesting subplot regarding Bay is his $17 million vesting option for 2013, which includes a $3 million buyout. Bay can trigger that option by making either 600 plate appearances next season or 500 apiece this year and next. It's certainly possible that the fractured left rib currently confining Bay to the disabled list will prevent him from batting 500 times this season, meaning he will have to appear 600 times next year to trigger the option. That's not easy to do even for a young player, meaning the Mets may be on the hook for a bit less money than they originally thought.
What is the status of Jenrry Mejia?
-- Stuart E., Freeport, N.Y.
Mejia, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, has been throwing in extended spring camp and is nearing a return to game action. Still just 22 years old, Mejia will need to prove himself in the Minors before the Mets give him his next shot in the big leagues.
Have the Mets forgotten about Scott Kazmir, or do they still have on eye on him?
-- Giovanni C., New York
The Mets came away unimpressed with Kazmir's workouts in Spring Training. If they acquire pitching help this summer, it will come from other sources.
How come the Mets don't have a team captain? There must be a valid reason they only have had three in their history.
-- Edmundo, Fort McMurray, Canada
The main reason is that the Mets have played most of their 50 seasons in the age of free agency, where players simply do not stick around long enough to earn that sort of title. Only two teams, the Yankees and White Sox, currently have a captain. Those players, Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko, have been with their teams for 18 and 14 seasons, respectively.
The longest-tenured Met, by contrast, is David Wright, at nine seasons.
In this day of six- and seven-man coaching staffs, the role of a captain is also more symbolic than practical, which is another reason why more teams do not designate one. I suspect if Wright signs another long-term contract in New York, the Mets will make him their captain -- as they should. But why do it now, when there's a real chance Wright could be gone in a year? It wouldn't make sense.
Speaking of which ...
What type of package can you get for Wright if he is 100 percent healthy and playing at his All-Star level?
-- Adrian G., Bordentown, N.J.
History would indicate a player of Wright's caliber could fetch two or three top prospects -- think Wheeler, Harvey types -- in a deadline deal. But teams have also shown an increased reluctance to part ways with such prospects in rental-type deals, a trend that should only continue given the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules limiting compensation for departed free agents. In other words, the market for Wright could be drier than what we have come to expect for Trade Deadline stars.
In any event, the Mets have shown no indication that they would be willing to shop Wright this July, nor do they have much incentive to do so. And for what it's worth, Wright has made it clear that he would like to remain a Met.