Mets manager Jerry Manuel says Bobby Parnell will have to wait to close

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UPDATE: According to Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com, Manuel softened on his stance during an appearance on WFAN in New York this afternoon, saying Parnell will be used in certain save situations. Good enough for me.

4:16 PM:
In case you hadn’t noticed, Bobby Parnell has been pretty impressive since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo at the end of June, posting a 3.12 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and a 27/6 K/BB ratio over 26 innings. His numbers have been inflated by a couple poor outings, however he has been unscored upon in 24 out of his 28 appearances.

With a fastball that averages 96.3 mph, up there with Neftali Feliz and Daniel Bard among the hardest throwing relievers in baseball, the 25-year-old right-hander has the kind of swing-and-miss stuff you look for in a closer. Unless you’re the Mets, that is.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he is content to stick with Hisanori Takahashi for now.

“There will come a time in his career where he’ll be the guy you give the ball to in the ninth inning,” said Manuel, who used Hisanori Takahashi in
the ninth last night. “We gotta try to do what we can to win games.
There will be an opportunity for him to save games. If we think it’s a
better matchup, then Takahashi will get the opportunity.”

I don’t want to take anything away from Takahashi. The Japanese left-hander has had a fine debut season stateside, posting a 2.50 ERA and a 1.16 ERA over 25 appearances as a reliever, compiling a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 39 2/3 innings. These are excellent numbers, so I would expect him to have an important role, but the number I keep focusing on is 35. As in, Takahashi’s age.

For a team that is pretty much out of things in the playoff race, doesn’t it make sense for someone who may have a long-term future in the organization to get a real shot? Besides, Parnell hasn’t done anything to suggest he wouldn’t do as a good of a job as Takahashi. This is the rarest of situations where I’m rooting for a closer-by-committee, just to see Parnell get a chance.  

 

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.