The Dan Warthen Comments on Jenrry Mejia (And Why it Doesn’t Matter)

I wanted to comment on Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen’s comments on Jenrry Mejia Friday.

First, here’s his quote:

“A lot of people, because of his young age, still feel that he’s going  to be a fairly good starter,” Warthen said. “That’s why baseball is so interesting. You can have differences of opinion and go on from there.”

“I think Mejia works really hard to throw the baseball. And I worry about the volume of pitches during the course of a year. You get 30 to 35 starts, and you’re throwing 100 pitches each time, every fifth day, I worry. … You just watch his arm swing. It’s a long arm swing. His ball naturally cuts — again, [like] a Mariano Rivera. If Mariano had to go out there and throw 100 pitches every fifth day, when a ball cuts all the time, instead of staying behind it, I think you find a lot of torque on your elbow and your shoulder. But, again, that’s a singular opinion. [Mejia] is a very strong individual.”

Here’s the thing I don’t get: why say this at all?  Mejia’s own performance will dictate where he will land eventually.  That and the organization’s evaluation of his performance.  There’s just no question that a top-line starter is more valuable than a short-reliever.

Also, I’ve never ever heard anyone in baseball suggest before that throwing a cutter puts additional strain on the elbow.  Does anyone have that research?

Warthen was being honest, and I suppose he deserves our approval for that.  However, sometimes, tact is as important as honesty.  I don’t know what question from what reporter prompted this discussion.  Nor do I really care.  The issue here is that there are other people with the Mets who think Mejia has the potential to be a starting pitcher and he is being developed with that goal in mind this season.  Warthen, while expressing a personal opinion, is essentially publicly expressing disagreement with others in the organization.  Lets assume the question was explicit: “Dan, what role do you see Jenrry Mejia serving in the Major Leagues?”  What would the problem have been with the following response: “Well, he did ok for us in the bullpen last year, but he’s going to go down and start in Buffalo this year.  If he can help us as a starter, great.  If not, we think he could be a really good reliever.”

There’s always a chance that Mejia will end up in the bullpen.  He’s just being given a chance to maximize his own value now.

Do Warthen’s comments matter for Mejia’s confidence?  Doubt it.  Will they damage his trade value for other organizations?  Doubt it.  Everyone else has their own scouts who will see Mejia plenty.

It’s not just the Mets who think Mejia can be a starter.

For example, at Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein wrote about Mejia:

Mejia has the stuff to pitch toward the front of a rotation, and that’s where the Mets will try to develop him from here on out.

That’s not a Mets opinion.  That’s an outside observer.

So in the long run, do these comments matter much?  Nope, it’s just people talking about baseball before the season.  Now lets play some baseball.