When the names of Mets prospects come up these days Jenrry Meija has become lost in the shuffle. It’s interesting. He is still only 23; Matt Harvey, for instance, is also 23. Meija has logged some major league innings already and still has a power arm. He blew out his elbow, of course, in 2011 but came back to pitch 92 innings in 2012. Tommy John surgery is usually successful and often it takes over a year for pitchers to come all the way back. Before the injury, Meija was ranked as the 45th best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus in its 2011 edition. Zack Wheeler was ranked 52nd that year. 2013 seems like a good year to plug a guy like Jenrry into our rotation and see what he can do. Meija could still be an important part of our long-range future.
What’s that old Dusty Springfield number? “Wishin’ and Hopin'”? Well, I’m wishing and hoping, too, but my expectations have been significantly lowered.
In general, elbow injuries are more fixable than shoulder injuries, which are still just about the kiss of death. But the fact remains that Meija suffered a significant injury at a critical time in his development. I have a half-baked, weak-ass theory on that, which goes that there are times in our development when we need to go through key phases of growth — I see this when children are sick for long periods of time — and that this “missed time” is not as simple as resetting the clock. The boy that misses 7th grade, for example, misses more than a year of school, he misses an important transitional period, the rough-and-tumble jostle through the pecking order, and he loses, for a time, his confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes a player misses a year or 18 months due to injury. You figure that logically, well, he’ll just reset the clock and catch up. But what we sometimes see, I suspect, are players like Fernando Martinez and Reese Havens, who maybe lose something else that is essential, something that is more than time.
Sorry, is that crazy?
Meija may come all the way back, though I’m not sure where that was, exactly. At best, he was very raw. Then the Mets criminally mishandled him, brought him up too soon for a non-competitive team (if it was during a pennant race, that’s a different discussion, I think), and he appeared confused, unprepared and unhappy about his role. Then the injury hit. What I remembered from 2010 was that his stuff looked electric, there was life in his arm. Whereas his starts late in 2012 were disappointing to say the least. I just didn’t see that electricity. The fastball didn’t jump, the off-speed stuff didn’t bite. The raw athletic talent — not skill, but talent — that used to define him no longer seemed present. Maybe that comes back this year. Maybe not. In the meantime, I’ll be wishing and hoping.
I agree, nothing about his stuff looked fantastic last year. But with another offseason to continue his post-surgery recovery and conditioning, well, we don’t know. I do know he is 23 and was a major prospect a short time ago. Also, even though Sandy Alderson is afraid to utter the “R” word, we are clearly rebuilding, or restructuring, or replenishing, or whatever else we want to call it.
Regurgitating? Actually vomiting up the 2012 season all over again?
You know, punting 2013.
So given that I really like the idea of putting Meija in the rotation and seeing what he can do, I would much rather see him every fifth day than Chris Young (you know that signing is coming) or Laffey. Let them be around for the inevitable needs that will arise during the season.
Sounds like a plan, Mike. It would be crazy and interesting if in July we’re looking at a rotation that includes Harvey, Wheeler, and Meija. People get down on Johan, but he’s a real good guy for these young pitchers to be around. While he lasts!
Just for a point of reference, almost exactly two years ago Baseball America released this list of the Mets Top Ten Prospects:
1. Jenrry Mejia, rhp
2. Wilmer Flores, ss
3. Cesar Puello, of
4. Matt Harvey, rhp
5. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, of
6. Reese Havens, 2b
7. Lucas Duda, of/1b
8. Fernando Martinez, of
9. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3b
10. Brad Holt, rhp.