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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

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D'oh Big Pelf

Four of six on the road from a pair of division leaders in the big, bad American League? We’d all have taken it. Over .500 at the halfway point of the season? Back when we were 5-13 we would have taken that too.

Someone was going to get hung with an L after four inspiring Ws. Someone was going to come up short. Someone was going to draw a pitcher like Justin Verlander, who’s pretty awesome even when he’s not having his finest day at the office.

And yet, I wish I were surprised that the someone was Mike Pelfrey.

I have an unfortunate tendency as a fan to find some Met each year and conclude it’s all his fault. A few years ago it was Shawn Green. Then Luis Castillo pretty much owned that niche. Now, I fear I’m grooming Pelfrey for the role.

This isn’t fair, of course. Pelf isn’t a No. 1 pitcher — he’s just playing one on a depleted team in transition. But having been assigned that temporary status, he’s managed to be the Mets’ least-reliable starter, and the problems we’re witnessing aren’t new. He can’t seem to harness his stuff. Or he doesn’t seem to trust it even when he can, nibbling and subbing pitches and abandoning them willy-nilly. He gets spooked and loses his composure. He winds up with weird splits that get people talking about needing to pitch at home and doing better with a personal catcher. Psychological stuff, in other words. You get the feeling that, like Victor Zambrano, a lot of confrontations are lost in Pelfrey’s head before his arm has anything to do with it.

I know, I know, the Met bats were largely silent in the two games Pelf lost. And yeah, they put up a good effort against Verlander but came up empty — things seemed to go wrong as early as Jose Reyes getting caught off second on Jason Pridie’s little pop. It happens. But again, were you surprised it happened to Pelf?

He seems like a decent guy, a guy who works hard, and all the rest. He said the right things today, noting that both losses on the road trip went on his ledger. I wish him the best, but I keep thinking his best may not be extractable by these coaches and this organizational philosophy and this uniform. He might be best served pitching somewhere else, where someone else could peer into his head and figure out how to connect everything up.

14 comments to D’oh Big Pelf

  • Andee

    The “personal catcher” thing is interesting. Greg Maddux always had one. So did Steve Carlton. Not saying Pelf is in their league, but if pitchers of their caliber felt they needed that, it might not be complete horsehockey. Does anyone actually have splits on him from when he’s been caught by Paulino, Thole, or Nickeas? If Paulino handles him that much better than the others, it might be worth saying “screw it” to the platoon batting splits and just have Paulino catch Pelf all the time, even against a righty. Thole will still get plenty of work.

    But Verlander was going to be a tough nut anyway. Nobody can hit him right now, not even the Rockies in their own yard. So if Pelf is the weak link in the rotation, maybe having him be the “ace sacrifice” is not so bad.

  • “Psychological stuff, in other words.”

    I always called it “batshit crazy.” But that’s just me…

  • GregH

    He’s a loser. A big, dufas, pussy. Let him walk those manic circles behind the mound, hat bill pointed skyward, talking to himself, mopping his forehead with one arm while licking the other hand like a popsicle for some other team.

  • March'62

    LA Times April 17, 2012 – Mike Pelfrey, acquired by the Angels in the Joel Pineiro trade this offseason, tossed a no-hitter last night against the Detroit Tigers. Big Pelf, as his teammates affectionately call him, was in complete control as he bested Justin Verlander 1-0……….

  • Rob D.

    …”when asked why he couldn’t get his shit together while on the East Coast, Pelfrey replied ‘I don’t know, I guess it was a matter of overstaying my welcome in New York. We all know I’m no ace. But truthfully, Dan Wharthen doesn’t know jack about pitching, really, and all my catchers sucked.'”

    • March'62

      In related news, the Mets announced that Joel Pineiro, who was pulled from his last start in the 3rd inning because of a twinge in his right shoulder, is being sent back to New York for X-rays. The Mets are hoping that he won’t miss his next turn in the rotation.

  • open the gates

    Luis Castillo? Really? Not Oliver Perez?

    • Really. Can’t tell you why — actively loathed the mere sight of Castillo while just wishing Ollie would go away.

      Can you imagine this season with either of those two excrescences on the roster? Addition by subtraction indeed.

  • 9th string catcher

    I’d like to give Pelf a little slack. He is the guy who won 15 games last year, a feat that still might go unmatched by anyone on this year’s staff. When he’s good, he can really help the team. When he’s bad, boy, he looks lost out there. And while perhaps he doesn’t have the stature that might deserve a personal catcher, let’s not forget that Thole is not an average catcher – he sucks raw meatballs back there. Either Paulino or Nickeas would help tremendously, as pitchers generally have more confidence throwing to someone who can actually catch the ball.

    With a decent catcher and some run support, Pelfrey can probably be 13-10 this year, which should help. Hell, I’m much more worried about Capuano, who seemed hell bent on giving back every lead the Mets got in Detroit.

  • Will in Central NJ

    I dunno if anyone wrote/ranted on this yet, but back on the night Ike Davis and David Wright collided, resulting in the infamous bone bruise in Ike’s ankle, did anyone else notice how Big Doof–I mean, Pelf was JUST A SPECTATOR ON THAT PLAY?!? Anyone else with an ounce of bulldog in his baseball being would’ve screamed, “THREE! THREE!!” or “ONE!!” to gain any friggin’ edge to WIN on every stinkin’ play.

    I can’t picture a Tom Seaver or a Bob Gibson standing around on such a play. They’re in the Hall of Fame, each with World Championship rings. Mr. Pelfrey, for the sake of your career, take note.

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