By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Well, that didn’t take long.
Already saddled with an uncertain middle-to-late inning situation and a nominative closer coming off neck surgery, the Mets learned Tuesday that Bobby Parnell, the indicated closer, has a partially torn right elbow ligament.
Only the most optimistic would call the Mets “star-crossed.” Given the way they started the season Monday, with Parnell suffering a blown save in the 9-7, 10-inning opener loss to the Nationals, and the baggage the team carried into the season, the more realistic among us might downgrade that assessment to “train wreck.”
Parnell, a 22-save pitcher a year ago, now goes out for at least two weeks following Tuesday’s horrendous news. He’ll take a platelet rich plasma injection, rest for two weeks, and they’ll see where the elbow stands. But judging by Terry Collins’ luck with these things, don’t be surprised if Parnell heads into the operating room for a prolonged absence.
Yep. That’s the Mets. When the front office isn’t killing them with restrictive budgets and questionable signings, the baseball fates are playing havoc with the roster. As Big Julie told Sky Masterson, if it wasn’t for bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.
The worst part is that Parnell was their big bullpen hope this year. As rich as the Mets’ farm system is in starting prospects, they don’t exactly turn out short relievers by the dozen. About their only option now is a veteran, Jose Valverde, who threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Monday before Parnell came in. The former Tiger was only brought in on a minor league contract. He had 49 saves in 2011, but only nine last year before control problems cost him his spot in Detroit.
Vic Black might have been an option, but his control problems landed him in Triple-A Las Vegas as spring training broke.
Unless Valverde proves a total train wreck — there’s that word again — he’ll be the long-term solution here. But the 36-year-old may be at the end of the line. What was once automatic, as his 49 straight saves in 2011 indicated, turned iffy at the end of a 35-save 2012. A blown save against the A’s in that ALDS was followed by a huge blowup in the ALCS against the Yanks when Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez each hit two-run homers off him in the ninth to equalize what was a 4-0 lead.
Valverde never was the same and it’s doubtful he ever will return to that form. But he is what the Mets have right now, unless they want to call up the untested Black, who is more setup man than closer, anyway.
But let’s not throw dirt on the closer situation just yet. Maybe Valverde will surprise everyone and do a bang-up job, be it short-term or long-term. Maybe rest and those concentrated platelets will work their magic on Parnell’s arm and get him back before the won-loss record suffers any real, lasting damage because of an inability to close out games.
No. These are the Mets. When they’re not stumbling over each other, they’re dodging the deluge from that big, black storm cloud that hovers over their collective heads.
Even the team knows it.
“This is bad news,” one of Parnell’s teammates told the Daily News. “Really bad news.”
And bad luck. Then again, if the Mets didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all.
Parnell’s situation proved as much.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories