Those who believe Bobby Parnell just doesn’t have the mentality to close have gained a little more ammunition over the last week.
Parnell blew his second save in four days, and Pedro Beato threw a wild pitch to score the winning run in the 10th as the Mets lost to the Nationals 5-4 on Tuesday.
Parnell is now 2-for-4 in save opportunities since replacing the injured Frank Francisco in the closer’s role. He hasn’t really fallen apart in either blown save; the Nationals, like the Braves before them on Saturday, simply managed to string together three singles and score a run off him tonight. Still, that can’t make manager Terry Collins feel much better about things.
After Parnell lost a one-run lead in the ninth, the Mets went back ahead in the top of the 10th on a Josh Thole double. However, Tim Byrdak and Beato combined to blow it from there. A Bryce Harper triple tied the game, and Beato’s wild pitch ended it.
With Parnell looking like a better option in the eighth than the ninth, the Mets could go to a closer-by-committee until Francisco returns. However, they’re short of quality alternatives, and one guy Collins does seem to have faith in for a late-inning role, Miguel Batista, is about to move into the rotation in place of Dillon Gee.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.