One of the more polarizing on-the-field storylines of spring training reached its likely conclusion last night, as the Mets made a series of cuts that all but guaranteed that 20-year-old right-hander Jenrry Mejia will make the team’s Opening Day roster.
Mejia, ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s No. 1 prospect, has tallied an impressive 1.59 ERA and a 9/3 K/BB ratio over 17 innings this spring. He was originally expected to open the season at Double-A Binghamton as a starting pitcher, but it became pretty clear by manager Jerry Manuel’s rather pavlovian response to Mejia’s efforts that the youngster would be coming north.
Mejia’s talent is undeniable, but if true, I’m afraid that this could very well end up as one of the more short-sighted and irresponsible decisions in the team’s recent history. Remember, the Mets haven’t developed a legitimate homegrown starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden over 20 years ago. I’m just not sure why pitching in the seventh inning should suddenly trump that.
Of course, the jury is still out whether Mejia can actually be a starting pitcher in the major leagues, as his secondary pitches need some work, but that’s exactly why he should be in the minor leagues right now. I can’t wait for the irony of seeing him pitch in a game in which the Mets are getting pounded because their starting pitching has let them down once again.
With this decision, Omar Minaya and Manuel are officially “Thelma and Louise,” as far as I’m concerned, tying their short-term fate to the organization’s most promising right arm. Let’s just hope that Mejia isn’t the car.