Discussion: Manny Parra’s Future

After three seasons of up-and-down performance as a starting pitcher, Manny Parra will reach arbitration for the first time this winter.  Parra will get a significant raise from his current $440K contract in spite of his 5.29 ERA in 101 major league appearances (74 of them starts), and is probably looking at a 2011 contract in the neighborhood of $1MM.

There's a slight chance that the Brewers could non-tender Parra, a possibility raised by MLB.com's Adam McCalvy in the wake of Parra's recent demotion back to the bullpen.  Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said that any discussion of non-tendering the southpaw "are questions for the offseason" and first the team would have to "see how he does out there [in the bullpen]."

Milwaukee has already shown a lot of patience with Parra's development, McCalvy notes, and it would be odd for the team to cut him loose so early in his major league career.  Parra will only be 28 on Opening Day 2011, has a ridiculously unlucky career BABIP of .351 and has impressive minor league numbers — a 3.06 ERA and an 8.6 K/9 ratio in 109 career appearances on the farm.  Given all the question marks in the Milwaukee rotation heading into next season, it's probable that Parra will get another shot at winning a starting job.

What might be worth investigating, though, is whether Parra's future lies in the bullpen, not the rotation.  It may not seem like a proper use of Parra's value to convert him to relief pitching forever, but in the short-term, it could be an idea to help the left-hander find some consistency in the majors. 

Parra has a 4.10 ERA and 3.2 K/BB ratio in 27 career relief appearances, as compared to a 5.44 ERA and 1.71 K/BB ratio in 74 career starts.  As a reliever, he would seemingly improve on both of his major trouble spots as a starter — his control issues (a 4.5 career BB/9 rate) and his problems facing batters more than once through the order (a .708 OPS the first time he faces them as a starter, an .820 OPS the second time around and a .942 OPS the third time through).

John Axford has been a great story for the Brewers, but the Canadian right-hander came from far enough off the radar screen this season that he isn't a lock to duplicate this success as their closer in 2011.  If Parra did well enough in a relief role, he could even be groomed for the closer's job in the future.

36 Responses to Discussion: Manny Parra’s Future Leave a Reply

  1. bbxxj 5 years ago

    I think it would make sense to trade him for a steadier young starter with perhaps less upside to a team who thinks they can harness Para’s talent.

    • BaseballFanatic0707 5 years ago

      Good luck convincing a team to give up anything more than a fringe prospect for Parra at this point.

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        He said with less upside. I think Parra is worth more than a fringe prospect given that he is young nd afforable. Not every start has been disastrous for him but he has good stuff and if only he could harness it, he might be a good pitcher. Maybe his best bet is to go to winter ball a la Francisco Liriano.

        • BaseballFanatic0707 5 years ago

          He’s not worth more than a fringe prospect at this point because he hasn’t shown he can figure out how to pitch in the league yet. Sure, he’s 28, but this will be his third full season in the majors and he’s still walking FAR too many batters.

          He’ll need to go somewhere like St. Louis where Dave Duncan can save his career, and the Brewers are probably not inclined to trade in division.

          • Sam_Lee 5 years ago

            You’ve obviously never seen him pitch.

          • BaseballFanatic0707 5 years ago

            I don’t need to see him pitch if I have numbers here showing a BB/9 that has never been below 4, and has gotten worse since his 08 season. He only averaged 5.15 innings pitched in 09 when starting, and in taking a quick look at his starts this year, never went beyond 6 innings in any of them. Proven fact-no matter how hard you throw, how many strikeouts you get-it doesn’t mean diddly squat if you’re walking far too many batters. Fringe prospect or two, at best.The statement “You’ve never seen X player pitch” is very empty and in no way shape or form a valid point. Try again.

  2. Flharfh 5 years ago

    The only reason he wasn’t put in the ‘pen sooner is that the Brewers have no one better to replace him. Parra has shown he can be an effective reliever, but will his arbitration pay him as a starter or a middling reliever? He is worth keeping around, but not for a lot of money.

    The Brewers are pretty well off when it comes to relief pitching, they even had to send Carlos Villanueva down to AAA as the odd man out even tho he was having a good season.

  3. sundancekid2 5 years ago

    Manny Parra as a closer?? Please give me some of what you are smoking, Mark! As for Charlie Newhouse, I wouldn’t say an ERA of 4.96 (8.06 over his last 10 appearances) and a WHIP of 1.31 can be classified as having a “good” season. The Brewers need a complete overhaul of the pitching staff. Aside from Wolf, Gallardo, Axford, and possibly McClendon, this team needs to find several good arms to even have a chance at .500 next year.

    • bbxxj 5 years ago

      Because all young lefties with good ‘stuff’ will never figure it out after they struggle in the bigs…

      It’s just as silly, no offense intended, to say he will never be a closer as it is to call him a future closer.

      • Sage 5 years ago

        You don’t have to tell Brewers fans about struggling young lefties figuring it out. Can you say “Jorge De La Rosa”?

        Parra has had 3 years to figure it out. Instead of figuring it out, he’s gotten worse. He went from a 2.3 WAR in 08, to a 0.6 WAR in 09, to a 0.1 WAR this season. If he could have retained his 08 form, he’d be a serviceable 4th starter. He just hasn’t figured it out, and even if it’s risking another JDLR situation (where he goes to another team and figures it out), I think we need to trade him if offered anything of value.

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          Jorge De La Rosa.

        • sundancekid2 5 years ago

          What do you think about another full year in the minors?

          • Sage 5 years ago

            I don’t think it will matter. He’s always been good in the minors. He’s got nothing left to prove down there. When we sent him down last year, he put up a sub-3 ERA in AAA, and then we brought him back up, and he was pretty good for a few starts. After going to AAA and coming back up, he looked more like his 08 form. Then he reverted. I really don’t think another year in the minors will help him.

      • sundancekid2 5 years ago

        Not saying he won’t figure it out. What I am saying is that Manny Parra is a headcase. You can have the greatest “stuff” in all of baseball, but if you don’t have the “grit” to be a closer you never will be one. Parra has shown no ability to buckle down and get hitters out after surrendering that 2 or 3 run bomb in the 5th inning. So, I do not think it is silly to say that he will never be a closer. It’s not even plausible.

  4. moonraker45 5 years ago

    Understatement of the century in 3…2….1….Brewers need pitching.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Maybe they should try to get one of our guys in the rotation for Brett Lawrie.

      • Sage 5 years ago

        I’ve been hearing a lot about either Brett Lawrie for Brett Cecil (of the Blue Jays) or Brett Lawrie for Michael Pineda (of the Mariners). I would be fine with either of those trades, as it would result in a pretty good starter for us.

        • sundancekid2 5 years ago

          I’m not so sure they are going to be able to work out an extension with Weeks. If they do, then Lawrie is expendable.

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          There’s a big difference between Cecil and Pineda and I doubt Jack Z wooild trade Pineda. Something like Lawrie for Shawn Marcum might be a fit.

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            I guess we would move Hill to 3rd and plug in Lawrie at 2nd?? I dont know about moving Marcum, I’d rather give up 2 of Mills, Litsch, Ray or Rzepchynski.. Litsch and Rzep could probably be 15 game winners/ 4.00 era mid rotation type in the NL.

          • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

            Lawrie is probably 2 years from being Major League Ready so Hill probably won’t be with us by then.

            The 4 that you mentioned probably have no trade value except for Litsch who I still don’t think is worth Lawrie.

          • Sage 5 years ago

            Honestly, Lawrie is probably going to be Major League ready around the All-Star Break of 2011. Honestly, I’d say Lawrie for Cecil could be done. Lawrie for Litsch and Rzep could also be plausible.

        • moonraker45 5 years ago

          I dunno about brett cecil.. Along with Morrow, he’s probably been our best pitcher this year. He’s really opened a lot of eyes. I dont think even the organization thought he could become this good. Cecil is now 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA against the AL East & 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA vs. NYY this season. … If you are going to survive in this division you need pitchers who can stifle tough offenses and rise up in big games and under pressure.. I’d say that unless its top 10 prospect coming back our way, cecil is pretty much untouchable

  5. TeamCropDusters 5 years ago

    The stuff is there and that is not a qestion. It is his command and ability to overcome adversity that are his glaring weaknesses. Both need to improve for him to ever live up to his potential.

    Attention Dave Duncan….

  6. alxn 5 years ago

    “Given all the question marks in the Milwaukee rotation heading into next season, it’s probable that Parra will get another shot at winning a starting job.”

    that is all that needed to be said

  7. jb226 5 years ago

    Serious question, and nothing against Parra specifically:Why, after 440 major-league innings over four years, should we call his .351 BABIP “ridiculously unlucky?” Especially when paired with control problems? Isn’t it at least time to investigate the possibility that the guy’s just not putting the ball in good locations? I mean if I went out there and started throwing to major-league pitching they’d smack me around to the tune of a lot higher than .351 and it would have nothing at all to do with luck.Is it the difference between his major and minor league performances that gets him the benefit of the doubt? Or just the assumption that anything radically different from a major-league average BABIP is due to luck? Or something else entirely?I’m really not ragging on him, it just seems like a large enough sample size when talking about a career number to maybe start taking it at face value. *shrugs*

    • TeamCropDusters 5 years ago

      I think he gets the benefit of the doubt for the most part due to his ability to throw 96 MPH from the left side. That is THE only reason he gets more chances than most pitchers.

      There are only around 10 lefties in the league that can throw any where near as hard as this guy.

  8. brewersfan729 5 years ago

    Why, after 440 major-league innings over four years, should we call his .351 BABIP “ridiculously unlucky?”

    Because it is? I might agree with you if he was giving up line drives 30% of the time or something, but he’s not. He’s at 19.8% for his career. Tim Lincecum is at 19.4% in his career. Parra gets groundballs 48.2% of the time in his career and Lincecum is at 46.4%. Not an exact comparison, but fairly close. Parra’s career BABIP is .351, Lincecum’s is .309. And it’s not like Lincecum had great control early in his career either. He was walking 4 per 9 innings in his rookie year and had a .295 BABIP so I don’t think you can just point to oh he walks guys so his BABIP is higher.

    Parra has the highest BABIP of pitchers with at least 100 innings this year as well as last year.

    Perhaps a better example would be Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez strikes out more batters, Parra walks slightly less and gets more groundballs. Sanchez is still walking a lot of batters, both are lefties with good stuff. Sanchez had a .317 BABIP in his first year, .367 BABIP in his second year and .327 in his third year before having it drop to .290 and then .276 this year.

    According to fangraphs, everything but Parra’s fastball is above average based on their pitch values with his splitter being his best pitch.

    I think part of the problem is he throws five pitches and he hasn’t mastered any. So in the offseason, what I would do if I was him is drop the slider and one of the changeup and splitter. The splitter is the better pitch, but it’s tougher on the arm. I’d probably stick with the splitter since it’s better though. So slider and changeup dropped. The splitter is already a good pitch so not much to work on there. Now work on the curveball and the fastball is awful so work on locating it on the corners, your 92-94 mph fastball isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t locate it and according to fangraphs’ run value it’s at -77.4 in his career. So, yeah, not much needs to be said about that.

    So basically just go down to three pitches, you don’t need five of them and work on fastball control and command. Mainly command. Come back next year and see how that works out. If it doesn’t he’s destined for the pen.

    • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

      Very insightful answer. How many pitchers have really good control of more than 2-3 pitches? They might be able to vary the same type of pitch. But realistically, you just can’t “master” five pitches. I like your idea of simplifying his approach to 3-4 pitches, instead of five. I wouldn’t drop his split though since you identified it as his “best” pitch.

    • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

      I like your idea of simplifying his approach.

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      This was the same approach the jays took with David Purcey, who is probably pretty comparable to Parra, Lefty, mid 90’s velocity, control problems, and a big repertoire.. Jays gave up on him as a starter, but in moving in him in to the pen told him to drop all his pitches except for the slider and fastball. Since then his control is remarkably better, and is enjoying some success. (2.81 era/25 innings) .. Obviously the move to then pen allowed him 2 become a 2 pitch pitcher.. but becoming a 3 pitch starter for Parra would probably lead to better control and more success, as you’ve stated. Great Post

  9. did you seriously just say manny parra could be a future closer???? have you ever watched his composure on the mound, the guy is a mess out there at the slightest hint of trouble!!!

  10. bobes6 5 years ago

    More teams should non tender rather than risk losing in arbitration. The Pirates were crucified fr doing that with Matt Capps, but he wasn’t worth a crap the second half of last season and didn’t deserve a penny raise. His salary should have been cut.The Pirates offered him a rise, but it wasn’t enough. Luckily or him he recaptured some past magic and the Nats won out.

  11. is this really a story on mlbtraderumors.com? is someone f’ing with me? what’s next, a discussion about gary matthews jr.’s future?

  12. daveineg 5 years ago

    Manny Parra isn’t “so early in his major league career”. The guy has 74 career major league starts. He should never get another. His BABIP against isn’t bad luck and proof that that stat has nothing to do with luck. He throws meatballs up there which is why his career WHIP is ridiculously bad.

  13. Manny Parra is a talented pitcher who has been a huge disappointment.

    The comment about Parra being a potential future closer is way off base.

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