My Thoughts on the Mets Going Forward: The Bullpen
December 10th, 2010 by slangon

The Mets bullpen of 2010 were not as bad as some of their predecessors. They blew 16 saves last season as compared to 21 in 2009, 29 in 2008 and 18 in 2007. Maybe that’s not the best number to be looking at, but I thought that was a pretty good way to judge the effectiveness of the bullpen as a whole. Another encouraging stat is that the Mets bullpen allowed 28% of inherited runners to score, where as the league average was 32%. I guess another good way of judging, although not really one that you can quantify, is recalling how many times watching games last season where I was biting my nails in the later innings, or worse, yelling at my television. There were certainly a couple of times, but nowhere near as many as I remember from past seasons. Maybe a lot of that had to do with the fact that for the most part the starters went pretty deep into games. I also think that a lot of the bullpens success had to do with 2 guys who are not on the team any more, namely Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi. We also lost several less impressive relievers to free agancy. Raul Valdes and his 4.91 ERA are now part of the Cardinals. Fernando Nieve and his nice round 6.00 ERA are Pirates. Sean Green and Elmer Dessens were granted free agency, but have yet to sign anywhere.

Let’s look at the guys who are still here.

Looking at Manny Acosta’s numbers from 2010 is a little bit deceiving. He posted a 2.95 ERA, which is pretty darn good. He also struck out 42 batters in 39.2 innings pitched. Again, pretty good. He also can hit 95-96 on the radar gun, which is always welcome. On the not so good side, he allowed 42% of inherited runners to score. I guess that’s how he kept his own ERA down. He kept guys that he put on base from scoring, but didn’t stop other guys runners from scoring. I’m really not sure whether I would like to see Acosta in the bullpen going forward or not. Considering the Mets financial situation, I suspect that he’ll be there regardless of whether he should be there.

Ryota Igarashi was supposed to be the Mets primary set-up man after it became apparent that Kelvim Escobar couldn’t even hold a baseball, never mind throw one effectively. Of course he spent a good chunk of the early season on the DL himself and did not pitch very well when he was healthy. I think his 7.12 ERA speaks for itself as does the fact that 12 of the 29 hits he gave up were for extra bases, including 4 home runs. He was pretty good at holding runners, only allowing 3 of the 17 he inherited to cross the plate. The opposite of Manny Acosta, he was good at holding other peoples runners, just not his own. He’s still got a year to go on his contract, so let’s hope that a full year of playing American Baseball has helped settle him down a bit.

Bobby Parnell is an intriguing part of the bullpen in my opinion. He posted a really nice 2.83 ERA and got 33 guys to wiff in 35 innings. He also held 82% of the runners he inherited. On the other hand, he blew the save both times he had the opportunity to save the game and allowed 41 hits in 35 innings. Apparently his problem is that, although he has the rare ability to hit 100 mph on the radar gun, those 100 mph fastball travels straight as an arrow. He also doesn’t really have an effective secondary pitch to speak of. What I find intriguing is that you can always teach someone how to throw another pitch, but you can’t teach them how to throw 100.

Frankie Rodriguez, legal troubles aside, was actually pretty good last year. His 2.20 ERA and 67 K’s in 57.1 IP are all good. 5 blown saves I could do without, but his on the field performance is fine in my book. The question with K-Rod, obviously, is whether his off the field performances are worth what he brings to the team. Personally, I feel like what’s done is done. He seems genuinely regretful and has been seeking help with his anger issues. Hopefully he’ll come back more focused and motivated to prove to everyone that those issues are behind him.

Aside from those guys, there is always the possibility that Ollie P. could end up in the bullpen as a lefty specialist. Despite 2010 being his worst year ever, he still kept lefties to a .214 average. With Pedro Feliciano out of the mix and unlikely to be coming back, that could plug a pretty big hole. My problem is that I feel like Ollie is very gifted in finding ways to screw up. Just because he’s always done well against lefties, if you rely on him to continue to do well against them, of course he’ll screw it up. He’s Ollie. Unfortunately, since they’re paying him an ungodly amount of money anyway, I expect the Mets to at least entertain the idea. Fortunately, Sandy Alderson strikes me as the type of GM that would cut Ollie and eat the money if he felt that was best for the team.

I guess since we’re talking about sending disappointing starting pitchers to the bullpen, if the Mets were to work out something with John Maine, he could perform a similar role. He’s held lefties to .223 over the course of his career and in his terrible 2010 season, they only hit .200 off of him. I would be slightly more comfortable with this set up than with Perez.

I’m unsure as to how aggressive they’ll be pursuing relief pitching via trades and free agency. So far, they have signed Boof Bonser to a minor league contract. Outside of a pretty awesome name, nothing about him jumps out at me as being anything special. They also snagged Pedro Beato from the Orioles in the Rule V draft. Again, nothing in his numbers jump out at me, but he was born on the day that the Mets won the 1986 World Series. He’s got that going for him.

In the end, I suspect that if the Mets do anything this winter, it will be with starting pitching, not relievers. They’ll most likely cobble something vaguely resembling a bullpen from who they have in the Majors and the Minors and whoever they can get cheap and without any long term commitments.

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