Should The Mets Look Into A Multi-Year Deal For Bobby Parnell Now?


Right-handed relief pitcher, Robert Allen Parnell, will be twenty-eight years old in September.  He is six feet, four inches tall, and weighs-in at an even two-hundred pounds.  Bobby was a ninth round 2005 amateur draft pick, who made his major league debut during the 2008 September call-ups.  He appeared in six games that season.

His first full campaign in 2009 was a mixed bag of goods, as he started eight games and relieved in fourteen more.  In 88.1 innings pitched, he posted a hefty 5.30 ERA, which remains his career single-season high.  One reason for posting such a lofty earned run average was due to surrendering 101 hits over that stretch.  Bobby also struggled with control, walking forty-six batters.  Hence, he finished his rookie campaign with a 1.66 WHiP, which also remains his career single-season high.  On a more positive note, Bobby Parnell more than demonstrated the high strikeout potential within his right arm, for the right-hander was capable of throwing a fastball in excess of one-hundred miles an hour.  He turned away seventy-four batters either swinging or looking.

His sophomore season was more notable, but for divergent reasons.  Statistically speaking, his 2010 campaign was his best.  But after forty-one appearances, elbow inflammation cause him to shut things down.  To date, forty-one appearances marks his career low.  Before closing up shop, he posted a career best 2.83 ERA in thirty-four innings pitched.  He walked eight batters, and struck out thirty-three.  His 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and his 2.1 walks allowed per nine, at the time established career bests.  But once again, Bobby Parnell showed a tremendous propensity to get hit.  He surrendered forty-one hits over his thirty-four innings.  Allowing 10.5 hits per nine innings pitched, set another career high for him which still stands today.

Last season, Bobby Parnell returned from his elbow inflammation and appeared in sixty games.  In 59.1 innings pitched, his ERA rose to a 3.64 mark.  But for the first time, his hits to innings pitched rate dipped below ten per.  He ended 2011 with a 9.1 hits per nine innings average.  Progress?  That remained to be seen.  He walked twenty-seven batters, which at 4.1 per nine innings, rivaled the level of his rookie season.  But Bobby also struck out sixty-four batters.  And his 9.7 strike outs per nine innings stands as his career best.

Above all, what defined his 2011 season most, were the results of his first audition to become the team’s future Closer.  Let us just say it didn’t go too well.  Asked to step in and fill Francisco Rodriguez’ role, the third year pitcher struggled to do too much with his heater.  While he did manage six saves, he also blew five.

He didn’t do too badly in this year’s audition as Closer while filling in for Frank Francisco.  But he wasn’t an overwhelming success either.  Overall, Bobby’s 2012 season is shaping up to be pleasantly better than his 2011 campaign.  Bobby Parnell is in the midst of posting his second lowest ERA in four full years.  He is currently hovering at a 3.06 mark after fifty innings pitched.  Additionally, his 2.5 walks per nine innings, and his nine strikeouts per nine, are also both marks that currently rank second in his short career.  Cutting his bases on balls to fourteen, to date, is a very welcome improvement in his game.  He additionally equalled his number of innings pitched thus far with fifty strikeouts.  And lastly, for the second consecutive season, he has limited his hits allowed per nine innings to a number under ten.

For Bobby Parnell, that’s all well and good.  For the Mets, not so much.  The hits kept on coming.  In Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies, Bobby Parnell entered the game in the eighth inning of a scoreless pitcher’s duel.  Now keep in mind, the eighth inning is supposed to be his domain.  This is Parnell’s clearly defined role on this team; pitch the eighth inning.  And so in he came from the bullpen in relief of a brilliant performance by Collin McHugh, who was making his major league debut.  By the way, Collin pitched seven full innings, surrendering just two scant hits, he walked one, and struck out nine Colorado batters.  Brilliant!

The first batter Parnell faced; Tyler Colvin; launched a lead-off triple to center field.  After an RBI single and a third base hit, the Mets eventually lost the game 1-0, which capped off a four game sweep at the hands of a team who are woeful in their own right; the Colorado Rockies.  For Parnell, his pitching line looked like this: one inning; three hits; one run; and he was credited with the loss.  Three hits in one inning is not calamitous by itself.  But so far, that’s the story of Bobby Parnell’s career.  Since the 2009 season, to date, he has pitched 232.2 innings.  He has surrendered 253 hits over that time.

As we speak, Bobby Parnell’s true effectiveness still escapes him.  We know Bobby shaved some miles per hour off his fastball by design.  That was aimed at harnessing his control.  But for a man who at times still possesses a 100 mph fastball, it sure comes in flat, doesn’t it?  Major Leaguers will hit that, as has been evidenced throughout Bobby’s career.  While he has made great strides with a curve ball this season, the bullpen specialist is still a hurler lacking a quality out-pitch.  It is that lack of such a pitch, that prevents Bobby Parnell from becoming a fearsome closer.  On the plus side, his home runs remain consistently low.  Teams are stringing hits together against Parnell, and not necessarily going yard.  In 237.2 career innings pitched, Bobby has limited his opponents to seventeen home runs.  As far as his specialty, in those same innings pitched, he amassed 224 strikeouts.

Prior to and since, Bobby’s elbow (inflammation) has responded free of setbacks and/or recurrence.  In fact, he has proven himself healthy and sound, and quite durable over the years.  With Thursday’s setback aside, the work Bobby Parnell put in during the first half of the season should not go under spoken just because the season seems to be going awry towards the end.

The Mets relief pitcher is no longer a youngster.  He is now entering his prime years of age.  The year 2008; Bobby Parnell’s true rookie season; was also the last season in Shea Stadium, which makes Bobby Parnell no stranger among us.  As such, he is still very well liked.  There is a resounding sentiment among a preponderance of the fan base which wants him around long term.  But Bobby Parnell keeps making himself increasingly difficult to gauge in what role.

Bobby Parnell is now winding down his fourth full season in the major leagues.  With under six years of service however, he has no contractual assurances beyond this year.  The right-hander will shortly become arbitration eligible though.  For the 2012 season, Bobby signed a one-year deal valued at $504,000 dollars.  But come the off-season, he’ll need a new deal.  Should the Mets buy out his arbitration and initial crack at free agency with a somewhat sweetened deal, just as they effectively purchased those years away from David Wright and Jose Reyes?

Just what is his right arm and the uncertainty that comes with it, worth?  And for how long?  The going rate for guys who do what he does, and who do it well, doesn’t really differ much from the pitchers who do not fare as effectively.  That’s because most of them historically suffer up and down, odd and even years.  Roughly three, to three and a half million is eventually what the Mets might be looking at.  If you think my figure is off, and you have another dollar amount in mind, I would still think it is in the Mets best interest to gladly consider buying the next three to five years of Parnell’s career, for a hamburger today.