Thursday, February 18, 2010
Bobby Parnell is Good-Not
Let me just try and pre-empt all this Bobby Parnell as eighth inning guy talk.
He is not good.
Now, I like Bobby Parnell. As a human being, he's actually amazingly awesome at baseball. He is definitely one of the thousand most talented baseball players on the planet -- so what does that make him, in the 99.99th percentile?
That said, he is NOT a good candidate to pitch any high leverage innings for the Mets. He was never good last season, he was never particularly good in the minors, and there is no reason to believe that he will be much better this year.
I realize his ERA looked nice in the early going last year. I realize he throws 98 miles per hour. But the hysteria around Parnell was off the charts. I remember Metsblog calling it "laughable" that the Nationals wanted Parnell in exchange for Nick Johnson. Nick Johnson!! A great first baseman with a career OPS+ of 125. That was when the delusion was at its height.
But back in the real world, we know that Parnell hasn't shown us any real concrete reason to believe he won't just be a poor man's Brian Stokes. Here are some minor league stats Parnell posted as a starter:
2007 - St Lucie (A+) - 3.25 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
2007 - Binghamton (AA) - 4.77 ERA, 1.53 WHIP
2008 - Binghamton (AA) - 4.30 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
2008 - New Orleans (AAA) - 6.64 ERA, 1.67 WHIP
He was mediocre in the minors and he was mediocre in the majors. He struck out a lot of guys and walked a lot of guys. He posted a tolerable ERA despite a high WHIP because a higher percentage of his WHIP came from walks -- who would then be stranded on subsequent strikeouts.
As a reliever last season (and omitting his terrible performance as a starter) he posted a great 3.46 ERA. But again, it was accompanied by a 1.50 WHIP, over a hit per inning, and almost 4.5 walks per 9 innings. He was basically a bullpen version of bad Oliver Perez.
I like Parnell's chances of improving in the future. I think he'll be an asset for the Mets. I hope he'll stick with us and I'll be rooting for him. But any projection for him which has him posting an ERA better than 4.00, or walking less than 4 guys per 9 innings, or which has him anywhere near an 8th inning lead, is WAY premature.
Edit, Friday 12:39pm: A lot of people are pointing out that Parnell was a starter in the minors and will be used in relief in the majors. That is true. I agree that one could project his future a little more optimistically than the minor league statistics would indicate - especially given his fastball. However, ugly is ugly no matter where you are. Being that he was age-appropriate for all of those levels, you've got to do better than a 6.64 ERA in Triple-A.