Mike Pelfrey is in the best shape of his life

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Mike Pelfrey.jpgAdd Mets’ pitcher Mike Pelfrey to the list of this offseason’s biggest losers:

One week until Fat Tuesday, but Mike Pelfrey won’t be participating. The
Mets pitcher is prepared to arrive in camp next week some 25 pounds
lighter than last season and believes that will propel him to new
heights after a disappointing 2009.

“I was pretty upset with not
only how the team played, but with how I played last year, knowing
that’s not me,” Pelfrey told The Post yesterday. “I had a lost year. I
had a terrible year.”

A couple of years ago someone — I can’t remember who — did an analysis of how guys did in the seasons after “best shape of his life” articles appeared about him during the spring.  I seem to recall that there actually was an uptick in performance among the newly-dedicated, albeit not a dramatic one.  Enough to make me want to go back and see how Carlos Zambrano, Bobby Jenks, Geovany Soto and Pelfrey did this season come October.  Someone remind me, OK?

As for Pelfrey, I think he will bounce back, if not for the weight, than because he seemed a bit unlucky last year.  He gave up a lot of hits on balls in play, which is something that fluctuates. Also, the poor Mets infield defense victimizes him more than his teammates. That won’t change too much in 2010 — he still doesn’t strike out a ton of guys and the Mets didn’t upgrade the defense any — but maybe a few more balls bounce in his favor.

And if he does bounce back we can chalk it up to the weight loss anyway because it’ll make him feel good and encourage him to lay off the pie again next winter.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.