No matter where you look, there is no shortage of bad ideas in the world. The United States decided it was a good idea to give weapons to Mexican drug gangs. Tom Selleck turned down the role of Indiana Jones. And who can forget New Coke? The Mets, who have many entries in this field, are well on their way of adding another. Rumors abound that the Mets are going to try Pedro Beato as a starting pitcher.
Now to be fair, sometimes there’s a good reason for a bad idea. Selleck turned down the role because it would conflict with the filming of his top 10 TV show Magnum P.I., after all. But what reason do the Mets have for trying Beato as a starting pitcher? Last night the Mets announcers talked about Beato’s repertoire and noted that as a reliever he didn’t have the chance to even utilize his changeup.
I want to take this moment to point out that in his last 34 IP, Beato has a 6.35 ERA. I would like to think that if Dan Warthen is aware of the fact that Beato has a pitch in his arsenal that he’s not using, now would be a fine time to dust it off and try it out because nothing that he *is* using is working. Yet Beato still is deployed in higher leverage situations than Manny Acosta…
Like most relievers, Beato was initially a starter and he was moved to the bullpen because he could not hack it in the rotation. For Beato, this conversion happened in 2009, after he consistently put up ERAs in the 4-5 range in the low minors. In parts of two seasons at Hi-A, Beato had a 5.16 ERA in 39 starts. He gave no indication of being a successful starting pitcher in the minors.
The Orioles moved him to the bullpen and he had a strong year in Double-A, as he went 4-0 and posted a 2.11 ERA in 43 games covering 59.2 IP before a late call-up to Triple-A, where he had a scoreless outing of 1.2 IP. And then the Mets scooped him up in the offseason in the Rule 5 Draft.
Beato was lights out before going on the disabled list in the beginning of May. Since his return, batters have knocked him around as if Crash Davis was telling them what the pitch is before Beato throws the ball. And now the Mets think it would be a good time to experiment with him being a starter?
This idea is crazy. It has as much chance of working out successfully as moving Lucas Duda to shortstop or batting Mike Pelfrey third for the rest of his career. When a player struggles in a role, it is not a wise idea to move him to a more difficult role to get him out of his funk. That’s a recipe for disaster.
The funny thing is that the Mets saw the perfect model for a reliever-to-starter switch last night. The Padres started Corey Luebke who began the year in their bullpen. Luebke had been a successful starting pitcher in the minors but there was no room for him in the starting rotation so he made the team as a reliever. In 29 games as a reliever, Luebke limited batters to a .183 AVG and had 43 Ks in 39 IP. When Wade LeBlanc self-combusted they moved Luebke to the rotation and he has been a fine starting pitcher.
The Oriole Way under Earl Weaver was to break a starting pitcher into the majors by using him first as a relief pitcher. Doyle Alexander, Mike Flanagan, Wayne Garland, Dennis Martinez and Scott McGregor are some of the pitchers who cut their teeth in the bullpen for Weaver in the 1970s.
But the Beato situation bears nothing in common with either Luebke or Weaver and the Orioles. Instead it smacks of desperation, like New Coke. Warthen and the Mets should focus on what they can do to get Beato pitching like he did the first month of the season when he was a vital part of the bullpen.
How many people can you name in MLB history who were moved to the bullpen in Double-A, destroyed as a reliever in the majors (and let’s face it, hitters are teeing off on Beato right now) and reinvented as a successful starting pitcher? Perhaps there are some and I’m blanking on them – feel free to list them in the comments section.
Until that list starts flooding in from the readers, I’m going to consider moving Beato to the rotation the baseball equivalent of banging one’s head against the wall. Both are activities that will require a lot of effort, produce no meaningful results and likely to wind up in an injury.