An Odd Terry Collins Comment Regarding Frank Francisco & Bobby Parnell


A few minutes ago, Adam Rubin of ESPN sent out this tweet:

Here’s the quote from Collins that Rubin was alluding to:

"Frankie [Francisco] has got to show us that he can pitch back-to-back days up here — that he’s strong enough.  We’re talking three days in a row. Can he do that? The one thing I don’t think we’re ready to do is start to juggle our bullpen at this particular moment when Bobby [Parnell]  has done such a good job. We’ll wait until Frankie gets here to make those determinations."

Now, what is Collins thinking?  There’s simply no reason to even discuss the potential of juggling the bullpen (and Parnell’s role) at this point.  Obviously, if Bobby Parnell (or any closer on any team) gets shelled repeatedly, it’s time to discuss their job security.  Bringing this up today, though, was both pointless and foolish.  Terry Collins is actually leaving the door open for Frank Francisco to take over the role of closer from Bobby Parnell after Francisco “gets some major league games” under his belt.

Apr 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Bobby Parnell (39) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Mets won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

That Collins said the above is absurd on many levels.  The first, is the fact that Francisco (who is nearing a return to the majors after missing the first month and change of the season while rehabbing his elbow) was absolutely horrific last season.  He had a 5.53 ERA to go with a 1.60 WHIP.  The second, is the fact that even if Francisco’s numbers weren’t atrocious, he’s in the last year of a two year deal.  Barring something strange happening, he won’t be a part of the Mets in 2014 and beyond.  The third, and biggest reason why what Collins said is mind boggling is the following: Not only is Parnell likely a big part of this team’s future, he’s been pitching lights out baseball in 2013.

In 13 innings pitched, Parnell has a 1.38 ERA and 0.62 WHIP.  He’s given up only 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 11.  The two games that went down as blown saves against him were both caused by defensive miscues, not Parnell.  The first blown save came when Ruben Tejada threw the ball away in Colorado, and the second came after Collin Cowgill‘s defensive mistake in Miami.

I simply can’t fathom why Collins would even mention the possibility of Francisco taking the role of closer back from Parnell.  All he had to say was “Bobby’s the closer.”  End of story.  Instead, he said something that will probably leave Sandy Alderson shaking his head while smirking in disbelief when he hears about it.  Just another instance of Terry being Terry.

Commentary from Michael Lecolant:

Some things are best left unsaid. Other times, people go too far and say too much – See Terry Collins. Problem is, I think Coach, Sandy Alderson, and even us civilians, are caught in a whirlpool of semantics. Elbow surgery aside, Frank Francisco was signed to be the team’s closer.  Entering Spring Training he still held that title.  Despite Francisco’s surgery and Bobby Parnell’s excellent start, the Mets never bothered to update their records and correct job descriptions – so to say.  In fact, I think both Collins and Alderson still firmly view Frank as the 2013 closer, if and when he is ready to resume the role, because as a free agent, that’s what he was brought here to do. At no time did I ever hear either Collins or Alderson lift the interim tag off Bobby Parnell.  So, in a sense, this matter goes a little beyond Terry Collins’ comments today. This actually brings Bobby Parnell’s 2014 role into question.  Will the Mets seek a trade or look into free agency for a new closer?  Or, will they allow Bobby Parnell a true, quality opportunity to nail down the job? Where the hell was the vote of confidence today?

I agree with Danny.  At present, Bobby Parnell is king of the hill.  Removing him from the closer’s role at this point for any reason other than poor performance would be ludicrous. It is not like one pitcher is lefty and one is righty. Parnell and Francisco do not, and can not form a tandem. In a figurative declaration, there can only be one closer.  This is now Bobby Parnell’s job to lose, instead of a role to be taken away from him.

In the spirit of fairness, Frank Francisco is on his way back.  He only blew three saves last season, while losing three others. Otherwise, he saved twenty-three games in forty-eight appearances, which is a somewhat low rate. As noted by Danny, his problem was issuing twenty-two walks, and allowing forty-seven hits in 41.2 innings pitched, for a 1.606 WHiP. He did, however, strike out forty-seven batters. The Mets’ downward spiral into the second division last season eerily coincided with Frank Francisco’s trip to the disabled list. Of course, there were many reasons for the Mets’ 2012 fall from contention. Frank’s return to action is still a good problem to have. Someone once said you can never have enough pitching.

Circling back to Terry Collins…if I were him, I would have said – “Bobby Parnell is doing a fine job.  There is no need to have this conversation. When Frank Francisco arrives, he will be expected to fit in, and contribute. If he happens to consistently out-perform Parnell during the season, you and I may revisit this conversation. Until then, Bobby Parnell closes games for the Mets. Thank you.”

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