Later this week, Manny Parra will make his last start of the 2009 season, giving him one last chance to maintain some momentum heading into the offseason and spring training of 2010. I don't think anyone got the season they were hoping for from Parra, who's spent part of 2009 in AAA due to ineffectiveness, part of it on the shelf with a stiff neck, and the remainder being either infuriatingly inconsistent or simply infuriating.
Nearly every projection for the 2010 Brewer roster includes Parra in the rotation, and certainly, if he can bounce back from a rough season, he would be one reason to predict a major improvement over 2009. The problem is, Manny Parra hasn't just had a bad season, he's had a historically bad season.. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 120 innings, Parra's 6.16 ERA is the third worst in franchise history:
He also has the worst WHIP:
And the third most hits per nine innings:
There are a lot of names on those lists that no one should be proud to be listed next to. Even while playing for a franchise that's had more than it's share of terrible pitching in the past, Parra's 2009 season is arguably one of the worst in franchise history.
Obviously, Parra is still young, left handed, and has tremendous stuff when he's on. But it might be time to stop making excuses for him: He'll be 27 years old in October (he's only ten months younger than Chris Narveson), and if the Brewers are serious about contending in 2010, then they could be seriously hindered by a decision to keep trotting him out there and seeing if he can work through his troubles.
If I ran the Brewer front office, there are several courses of action I'd have to seriously consider taking with him. Follow the jump to read about them.
I'll start with the controversial one:
Urge him to play winter ball. After pitching 166 innings in 2008, Manny has thrown 162 this season (including 24.2 in AAA), and will likely finish 2009 with under 170. Without overextending himself too far, Parra could probably make somewhere in the range of 5-6 starts for a winter league team, and those additional starts would give him an opportunity to work things out and potentially build some momentum for 2010. If he can make a few good starts this winter, maybe he'll bring some confidence with him to camp. Even if he struggles in winter ball, he won't have much less momentum than he has now.
Get him a psychiatric evaluation. If you've watched Manny pitch more than one time this season, you've probably seen him pout his way through a rough outing at least once, or sit on the end of the bench and look like he's about to cry after getting pulled. Parra is routinely accused of having a lack of mental toughness, but maybe there's more to it than that.
It wasn't that long ago that Jorge de la Rosa was in a similar situation with the Brewers - great stuff, poor command, "mental toughness" issues. The Brewers eventually traded JDLR to the Royals for Tony Graffanino, and he struggled for parts of two seasons there before being dealt to the Rockies. He struggled there too until he started seeing a sports psychologist. Read through that article and tell me JDLR's problems don't sound a lot like Manny's problems. De la Rosa has made 31 starts for the Rockies this season and is right around league average.
Write him onto the 2010 roster in pencil, not ink. After the season he's had, Parra hasn't earned any favors and should have to earn his way onto the team and into the rotation next season. Even if no one else is brought in to compete for a spot, Parra should have to beat out the likes of Chris Narveson and Chase Wright to be a part of the rotation next spring.
As I mentioned above, Parra is left handed and has great stuff when he's on, but he's also been wildly inconsistent and he'll turn 27 before next season. It's time to stop treating him like a kid and hold him accountable if he's not capable of performing at the expected level.