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Mets Need an Organizational Pitching Philosophy

By Mike Silva ~ May 2nd, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

I wish I could say I am surprised by the news that Jenrry Mejia needs Tommy John surgery. Although I wasn’t against him entering the big league bullpen last year, I never understood why he was left buried after the decision. The Mets could have used him like the Yankees did Phil Hughes in 2009, but they allowed Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen free reign with their top prospects livelihood. The result is a torn MCL that will require surgery, and keep him out a year.

Since Rick Peterson was fired in June of 2008 the following pitchers, in addition to Mejia, have suffered an injury, or a decline in performance:

John Maine

Oliver Perez

Fernando Nieve

Johan Santana

Bobby Parnell

Billy Wagner

Sean Green

J.J. Putz

Pedro Feliciano

Ryota Igarashi

Whether it’s an elbow, shoulder, or hamstring tear its clear the team doesn’t have a plan on how to keep their pitchers healthy. Dan Warthen continues to get rave reviews from the staff, but his #1 supporter, Mike Pelfrey, has one of the worst earned run averages in all of baseball. As I have said a few times this year you have to wonder if Warthen should have been sent packing with Manuel and Minaya last October.

Not all injuries can be attributed to the pitching coach, but the Mets were largely healthy under Rick Peterson. Yes, there were a few, Victor Zambrano comes to mind, but he was damaged goods, and a “time bomb” waiting to go off. Blame the doctors and trainers who conducted his physical. Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez were more victims of age than misuse. Under Peterson Mets pitchers were more effective and healthy. He was able to get more out of less better than any other pitching coach in franchise history.

I have long advocated that big league clubs hire a “Pitching Coordinator” to oversee all the arms throughout their organization. This means have an overall individual responsible for the drafting, developing, and utilization of all pitchers from the day they are signed to the big leagues. There needs to be a philosophy in which the coaches throughout the organization are on the same page. This means everyone must buy into the core values when it comes to the mental and physical aspects of pitching. They then need to teach accordingly.

Personally, I would hire Peterson back into the organization. I wouldn’t necessarily make him my dugout pitching coach, but put him more in an executive position overseeing the entire organization. Sandy Alderson is all about the process, and having one consistent approach modeled after his program at 3P Sports would do this organization good.

Look no further than John Maine and Oliver Perez. Both were effective and healthy under Peterson, and have since drifted off into oblivion. I suspect a large part of that is a result of both players not adhering to the principles that helped them achieve success. You have a coach that preaches a philosophy that is based on data and research from Dr. James Andrews, the ultimate authority in this sport when it comes to pitching injuries. This isn’t some voodoo science. It’s tried and tested. What more can you ask for?

Bring Peterson in, allow him to bring his own coaches in throughout the organization, including at the big league level. If this program was in place already I predict Jenrry Mejia would not be facing surgery this week, but preparing for his next start.

Dan Warthen is just another symptom of a bigger problem. The organization needs to evaluate its pitching philosophy. The right man for the job is a free agent, but I predict it might not be for long.

You hired three GM’s for the front office. Now add your pitching guru to the mix to make it complete.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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7 Responses to Mets Need an Organizational Pitching Philosophy

  1. Brian Kalinka

    Amen to that!!

    It’s the same with Strasburg. I read last year about a week after his season ended that in HS and College he was babied. Pitched only on weekends to draw in the bigger crowds and because they didn’t want to fatigue his arm.

    This pitch count stuff needs to end. Build up arm strength the old way. I don’t know how it was done in the 30s, 40s, 60s, 70s, etc. but somebody better start doing the research because it worked. No reason a 21 year old kid should be tearing his MCL

  2. Neil T.

    I think pitch counts are the results of research. Where do you think they got the idea for pitch counts?
    Most data will show at what point a pitcher becomes less effective in a game. It also helps prolong careers.

  3. Mike Silva

    According to managers I talked to there were always pitch counts. Davey Johnson told me Doc Gooden was on a 120 pitch limit, and that Tommy Lasorda got mad at him because he thought he was “babying” Doc. Of course, Tommy probably didn’t want Valenzuela to find out. Look at the usage of Gooden in the eighties, forget the drug problems for a minute, and remember he started to have shoulder issues in 1989.

  4. Joe S.

    If results are the ultimate barometer, then Dan Warthen is a total failure. Mike is correct. Rick Peterson obtained excellent results with the pitchers that were brought to him broken. I’m sure that Dan is a great guy, but the Mets need to protect their inventory a lot better. I’ve listened to Rick’s theories, and I’m convinced that he is the right man for the job.

  5. Brian Kalinka


    I understand the idea of prolonging a career for someone already in the majors. But from what I have heard from friends who are studying in sports journalism and have talked to coaches at their school’s baseball team, in HS and College pitchers have even higher pitch limits and pitch more often, in order to build up the arm strength. If you do the research, you’ll find pitchers like Strasburg only pitched every 6 or 7 days in College, because they didn’t want to hurt his arm. By being precautious, they actually made the arm more vulnerable to injury, and I fear the Mets did the same here.

  6. Brian Kalinka

    I like the idea of pitch count, but I think it’s not used properly. It seems like pitch count is a make or break for players now, in a game. Guy is pitching great, 1-0 lead. 2 outs in the 7th inning and he’s pulled because he has 97 pitches. Then the bullpen blows it. It’s ridiculous.

    Once again, I understand the usefulness of it in the Majors, but not in the minors. It’s unnecesary down there and thats why you see so many young pitchers blow their arms out in the first full season.

  7. Mike Silva


    Rick Peterson talked about Strasberg at length during the Bloomberg Sports conference. His mechanics are terrible thus making him prone to injury. If you take a still shot of Strasberg, he is in the delivery motion but his arm is behind his had with the palm down. I am talking in layman’s terms, but essentially Peterson cites this type of delivery as putting huge strain on the arm. I would suspect there will be more injuries in Strasberg’s future.

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