Due to the language of his contract, the Mets have to inform Daisuke Matsuzaka by Tuesday whether or not he’s made the team. If he hasn’t, the Mets can pay him $100,000 to have the option to send him to the minors. If Matsuzaka has made it, he’ll be in the rotation and Jenrry Mejia will be ticketed for Triple-A – Simply put, choosing Matsuzaka over Mejia would be both ridiculous and inexcusable.
Mar 5, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) throws against the Washington Nationals in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this spring, Sandy Alderson made it known internally that he feels the Mets can win 90 games. If Alderson truly believes that, it would behoove him to take the 25 best players north on Opening Day. Including Matsuzaka while leaving Mejia out would run counter to that.
In Jenrry Mejia, the Mets have a 24 year old former top prospect who finally put it all together last year during his brief stint in the major league rotation. They have someone who most observers feel has top of the rotation upside. They have someone who stayed in the game Sunday even though a bunion on his foot was bothering him throughout. In Mejia, the Mets have the pitcher who should round out their starting rotation.
In Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Mets have a 33 year old who has posted ERA’s of 4.69, 5.30, 8.28, and 4.42 over the last four seasons respectively. They have a pitcher who was so poor with the Mets in his first handful of starts after being signed in 2013, that his release seemed inevitable. In Matsuzaka, the Mets have a pitcher who should serve as depth in Triple-A Las Vegas.
For those who put stock in spring training numbers, Mejia is also putting up a much better spring than Matsuzaka. His ERA (2.89) is more than 2 runs lower than Matsuzaka’s. If this is a competition – even though it shouldn’t be – Mejia is winning it.
Almost unbelievably, though, the Mets are still “debating” who to choose for the fifth spot in the rotation between Mejia and Matsuzaka, with some in the know feeling that Matsuzaka is the pitcher most likely to get the nod. With the amount of brainpower the Mets have in their front office, it’s mind boggling that they’re even pondering going with Matsuzaka at the expense of Mejia.
After Mejia’s fantastic performance Sunday, Mets manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson both noted that Mejia’s innings limit has to be taken into consideration when determining who will get the final slot in the rotation.
It’s true that Mejia will have an innings cap in 2014. However, by the time Mejia hits that limit, both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will be ready to be called up. Either one of them could slide in for Mejia if/when he hits his innings limit.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Mejia has told the Mets that he’d rather start in the minors than relieve in the majors. That means that if the Mets elect to use Matsuzaka in the rotation over Mejia, they’ll basically be flushing Mejia’s innings down the toilet. To put it another way – using Mejia in the minors at this stage of his career is akin to hanging the Mona Lisa in a basement.
Another thing the Mets could be considering here, is Mejia’s potential Super Two status. If the Mets keep Mejia in the minors until after the Super Two date passes, the amount of money he can earn next year in arbitration may be a few million less than it might be if he starts the season in the majors and sticks.
Using the Super Two excuse this year for prospects such as Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard is perfectly excusable. It’s the business choice most teams would make, and neither Montero or Syndergaard is needed at the moment. However, Mejia is needed – now. Hiding behind the Super Two issue in this instance would be maddening.
This should’ve been a simple call for the Mets – one that was made without much debate. What it’s turned into is more of a charade. However, if they choose Mejia, the way the decision played out won’t matter. If they choose Matsuzaka, both their reasoning and their motive should be called into question.