Mets ace Johan Santana threw 35 pitches this morning at about 80-85% velocity. He reportedly felt fine afterward. But his trip to New York to have the injured elbow looked at was delayed due to the impending snow storm here in New York.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen and Santana seem to be at odds over the cause of the injury. Santana believes the aggresive throwing schedule that Warthen mandates caused the elbow pain. Warthen believes that Santana had an agenda to prepare himself for the World Baseball Classic caused the injury.
Either way, they just need to get Santana right at this point. After the throwing session today Santana told reporters (from NY Daily News):
“I felt fine. It’s the first time in the last four days that I threw, but I feel good. … As you throw more pitches, you feel better. That tells me we’re making progress and getting loose.”
As Omar Minaya told reporters, the important thing is that he felt good after throwing. Hopefully, he’s not trying to be a hero and telling the Mets that he’s fine when he’s not. Time will tell.
Media outlets are reporting the Mets re-signed starting pitcher Oliver Perez to a 3-year/$36 million contract. The native of Mexico will be 28 years old in August. Perez has been with the Mets since being traded at the deadline in 2006 with Roberto Hernandez for Xavier Nady.
Perez is 26-20 since he joined the Mets and is noted for his high ceiling and inconsistency. He did seem to flourish last season after pitching coach Rick Peterson was fired and Dan Warthen took over the coaching duties. He went 6-2 after Warthen took over in June.
It’s nice to see that Mets GM Omar Minaya is keeping the length of contracts to pitchers to a minimum. By signing Perez and Francisco Rodriguez this offseason to three year contracts the Mets are able to maintain financial flexibility by not locking into long term contracts.
Flickr photo courtesy of slgckgc
Here’s the breakdown:
Staying– Howard Johnson (hitting), Sandy Alomar, Jr. (catching), Sandy Alomar, Sr. (bench), Dan Warthen (pitching)
Leaving– Guy Conti (bullpen), Luis Aguayo (third base), Ken Oberkfell (first base)
New– Razor Shines (third base), Randy Niemann (bullpen)
Jerry Manuel knows Shines from their time together in Chicago and he was coaching the Phillies Single-A team last season. Niemann is doing his third tour as the Mets bullpen coach next season replacing Conti. Conti was a father figure for Pedro Martinez and this indicates that Pedro won’t be back with the Mets next season.
All three coaches that are leaving will be re-assigned within the organization including Oberkfell who’ll be managing the Triple-A team in Buffalo.
We don’t know who the first base coach will be yet though.
I’ve written before about the stunning turnaround the Mets pitching staff has taken since the firing of Rick Peterson and promotion of Dan Warthen. Oliver Perez looks like a completely different player. Mike Pelfrey, who started to figure it out under Peterson, has been astounding. But Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, and Pedro Martinez haven’t been so successful under Warthen.
But I like Warthen’s approach, maximize each pitcher’s strengths. There’s no one approach that applies to every pitcher like Peterson seemed to have.
David Lennon of Newsday wrote a good column yesterday and had some interesting quotes:
“My first two years here, I didn’t feel like I could talk to him,” said Mike Pelfrey, who is 7-1 with a 2.83 ERA since Peterson was fired. “It always seemed like he wanted everything done his way … He always got you to believe that what he wanted was right, I just felt like sometimes he wanted to clone people and try to make people the same way. I think we’re all different, and we need different things to get problems solved.”
“All these guys have to have a voice and I don’t think they did have a voice – there was only one voice,” Warthen said. “They do a lot more speaking than I do. That’s the first thing I told them. I don’t want a bunch of clones. I want five different-looking starters, I want you guys to be who you are, and we’ll adjust to that. I’ll adjust to you, you don’t adjust to me.”
“I had a great relationship with Rick before, but you can see this is different,” Santana said. “The guys are much looser. They feel more comfortable. With Rick, there was always a lot of numbers and other stuff. This is more about being yourself.”
It’s pretty clear that the pitchers have responded well to Warthen. He’s not a “guru” in the sense that Peterson was, with his own philosophy that everyone had to abide by. In many ways he appears to have the opposite approach of Peterson, and it’s working in most cases.
Flickr photo courtesy of tedkerwin
Tim Marchman of the New York Sun, a terrific writer, wrote a great analysis yesterday about the massive change in results that Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez have gotten under pitching coach Dan Warthen. Both were struggling early this season under pitching coach Rick Peterson.
To sum up the piece, Perez is throwing more strikes and generally closer to the strike zone now. He doesn’t appear to have modified the types of pitches that he’s throwing. And Pelfrey changed the pitches he’s throwing from sinker/change up to straight fastball, sinker, curve ball. The results, of course, have been dramatic for both pitchers.
My take is that Peterson had a philosophy that he believed to be the “correct” methodology for all pitchers to utilize. That is, being a fastball/change up pitcher more than using a curve ball.
It appears to me that Dan Warthen doesn’t subscribe to a one style fits all approach to pitching. Each pitcher needs to maximize their unique abilities. Although Duaner Sanchez hasn’t succeeded under Warthen that may be an aberration due to his year and a half out of baseball with injuries.
The Mets go into the traditional second half of the season tonight with a nine game winning streak, confidence, and swagger. The last two weeks have seen Mike Pelfrey dominate all competition like the next coming of Roy Halladay. His recent performances have symbolized the Mets turnaround from the most lifeless team that money could buy to a team of united players that are achieving, if not exceeding, their potential.
As the Mets series in Cincinnati begins tonight, there will still be questions about Ryan Church’s foggy head, Carlos Delgado’s resurgent bat, Pedro Martinez’ ability to stabilize his spot in the rotation, and Billy Wagner’s ability to close “the big game”, and the crater in left field that Moises Alou left behind.
But there won’t be questions about the Mets desire to win and intestinal fortitude. There were plenty of those questions during the first two months of this season. That has miraculously changed under the direction of manager Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen.
It’s difficult to quantify how much the managerial and coaching changes have changed the Mets. I haven’t seen Dan Warthen throwing seven shutout innings but I have seen that from Oliver Perez and Pelfrey. I haven’t seen Jerry Manuel have a 9 RBI game but I did see that from Delgado. But something clearly changed on this team when the manager/coaching purge occurred. The Met took a little time to stabilize… Then caught fire!!!
The biggest change for me, as a fan, is that I like watching this team over the last month. I didn’t for the first two months of the season. It wasn’t fun or enjoyable. I understand that the Mets winning streak won’t carry into September, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I like about this team is their resiliency, their ability to mount a comeback, and the appearance that they want to win as badly as I want them to. That’s the kind of team that I’ll pay to watch.
Mike Pelfrey was named the National League player of the week. The New York Mets pitcher has won six consecutive games and has a 2.26 ERA in his last nine starts. Pelfrey has just been phenomenal for the last month and a half. I know that this run started under the tutelage of Rick Peterson but new pitching coach Dan Warthen has clearly had a tangible impact on the Mets pitching staff.