Mourning the Blacksheep


Every family has a member that is slightly odd. One that doesn't quite fit in. The Mets family is no different. From the day he first took the mound in a Mets uniform, Mike Pelfrey seemed a little odd. Teammates noticed it. Media members noticed it. Fans noticed it.

He seemed to have a love/hate relationship with those fans. He has been a player the fans have loved to hate; the perfect object to spew all of their fanhood frustrations upon. Over the past few years, fans have called radio shows to complain about every start, posted repeatedly on message boards of how much he "sucks" and booed mercilessly with every pitch.

He has been the focus of all our deepest venting. How strange is it, then, that when he went down to injury last week that those same fans and media members now refer to him as "irreplaceable"? Since the inevitable departure of Ollie Perez at the beginning of Spring Training last season, Mike Pelfrey has been the lone symbol to the fans of everything they don't like about this franchise.

Last season, they had the chance to trade him and avoid the pay raise he would be due this past offseason. Instead, they kept him and paid him the extra money to avoid arbitration. As a direct result, they have nothing to show for losing him to season ending surgery and a possible free agency looming when he recovers. Pelfrey may have thrown his last pitch as a New York Met.

That fact has sunken into the collective conscience of the fans and they are certainly taking the loss with sadness and grieving. With a career ERA of 4.36 and a 50-54 record, it's hard to imagine why. Has he had a good start to this season? Yes.  Does that warrant a period of mourning by the Mets family? Not really.

The fact is he is the player that Mets fans rip on for being hit or miss but those same fans will never allow a fan of another team to speak ill of him. They think "he may be a black sheep in this family, but he's our black sheep!". They stand by him through thick and thin. That is what fans do.

Now that he is on the mend, they finally realize his value; he eats up innings. He's had four consecutive seasons with 184 or more innings pitched. Two of them for more than 200 innings pitched. Now that the oddball in the family is on his way to the hospital, we all stop to consider what role he played in this family. He was the one that was always there; rain or shine, blowout or close game.

Though he seemed to only be consistent through inconsistency, he was, in fact, there for his starts. Whether those starts were something left to be desired or not, is a different story. There in was where his trade value laid last season. Many fans were calling for his head on the trade block.

Now that he is injured and may never pitch for them again, it is evident that the fans had a soft spot in their hearts for him after all. He may have been the hand-licking, shrink-seeing square peg that was left chained up in the basement and let out occasionally, but dammit, he was OURS.

Let this be a lesson to us as fans. Let's appreciate these athletes while we have them on our team. You never know when we'll overpay for one, fail to trade them at the opportune time and see them go down to season ending injury never to pitch for us again.

As we mourn the season loss of Big Pelf, remember, it could be worse; we could sign Ollie again.


Mack Ade said...

I don't mourn since Clem Labine didn't work out...

there's too much money involved now...

do your job or get off the bump...

Anonymous said...

Honestly Frank, I don't know anyone who is sad about losing Pelfrey. He was gone at the end of the year anyway. My frustration is with the fact that he was pitching well enough to become a decent trade chip at this year's deadline. Other than that I will shed no tears at his departure.

Christopher Soto said...

You have to think about the impact this could have on this year's "surprisingly decent" team. With Santana pitching good and Niese having a breakout season, the Mets have a legit 1-2-3 combo in the rotation. Now add Pelfrey who was pitching well to start the season and average performances from Gee and it turns out the so called weakness of the rotation could be one of the top 5 in the NL.

Now n disrespect to Gee and Schwinny. But even an average Pelfrey is better than those two. The rotation took a BIG hit with the loss of Pelfrey. Then again losing anyone would've been big due to the lack of depth in the minors.

Next on the depth chart i would think is Hefner or Olson since Harvey and Familia wont see time till September.

Stephen Guilbert said...


Pelfrey had the fourth worst WAR mark for qualified pitchers last year (beating only Harang, James McDonald, and Arroyo). Yes, 2011 was a "down" year for Pelfrey but Pelfrey's been very average over his career at best and at worst, disastrous. I can't help thinking that some combination of Hefner, Owen, Chris Young, and, come September, Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia can combine to do better than the 0.7 WAR Pelf put up in 193.2 innings.

That being said, Frank has a point. I've become unbelievably frustrated with Jason Bay, for example, but as soon as he gets hurt, I realize he is still a valuable addition to this team and a much-needed righty in the middle of the order.

There is another way to look at this, though. In a month or so, Chris Young will likely be ready. He can be very effective when healthy and the Mets may have just gotten an easy way to actually make their rotation better. This hinges, of course, on Young returning quickly, staying healthy, and pitching effectively, but the rotation could be better in a month than it was for the first four weeks of the season.

Chris, I don't think Pelfrey is better than Gee. Not even close.

Mack Ade said...

a couple of thoughts...

my childhood, or lack of it, made me into a "look forward and never look back" kind of guy...

it no longer matters whether Gee or Pelfrey were better than the other... one is gone...

re: Familia and Harvey - NOBODY graduates the minors until they can "command and target" after 100 pitches consistently... NO ONE...

the only exception is overnight injuries

Harvey is far from commanding and Familia almost has as many walks as strikeouts. Both WHIPs are sub-par

Yes, they both have the tools and velo, but they haven't learned how to harness them against top hitters

they are not a solution in May

Brian Joura said...

I agree with what Christopher said.

Generally, I'm not a Pelfrey fan but I would love to hear what all of these people who are kicking him now had to say about him in 2010.

I think it would be a wonderful thing to track the WAR of the pitchers who replace Pelfrey. In three starts, Pelfrey had a 0.6fWAR. Schwinden has a -0.2 in the first post-Pelfrey appearance.

Mack's Mets © 2012