Closer or bridge?

Since most of the Mets’ 29 blown saves came before getting to the closer, I have to wonder which is more important, getting two viable arms for the set-up roles or a closer.

I don’t think Francisco Rodriguez, for the asking price that’s been noted, is worth it. The Mets aren’t salivating for K-Rod or Brian Fuentes,for that matter, the way they did Billy Wagner, yet both could end up getting as much as Wagner if the reported prices are true.

I believe a closer is important, but I think the bridge is more important. Why? Because three innings are more significant than three. I would feel better about the Mets’ bullpen if they were settled in the seventh and eighth innings, but had a question in the ninth, instead of a closer in the ninth but a paper mache bridge.

28 thoughts on “Closer or bridge?

  1. Agreed wholeheartedly…but they still need a closer and there are enough viable guys out there to get one.

    From what I’ve read/heard, they really, really want to get a closer (Street, Putz, Valverde) and plug him into the 8th inning in addition to getting a FA closer.

    No argument from me if they can swing it, but I’d like to sign Juan Cruz and put him in the 8th…won’t cost you anything but moeny. The problem is Minaya doesn’t like long-term deals for non-closers, so that may be a longshot.

  2. Sign K-Rod, trade Heilman and Feliciano for Street (and another piece), Sign Biemel or Ohman to replace Feliciano.

  3. I haven’t been sold on K-Rod. As a matter of fact the closer market is scary. Nothing comes without a question whether it be him, or Fuentes. I like the idea of trading for Putz if he is available or Jenks..not that they don’t come with questions either. Juan Cruz doesn’t excite me…look into his outings and you’ll see an overated pitcher.

  4. Mets need a bridge bigtime…..even though this hotstove has been slow, I’ve been very disappointed with Omar’s response to fixing the last 2 season’s bullpen ills….

    Clearly, if Omar makes no moves other than signing a closer, the Wilpons and Omar will show they have no intention of bringing a winning team to Flushing. Their only concern will be to line their pockets…

  5. All I can say is its truly an indictment of the General Manager when there is not one internal option for any of the roles mentioned by Delcos. Get this guy, get that guy, but don’t spend a bunch of $$. Sounds like a cheap version of the Yankees.
    As for Wagner, did Minaya salivate because he loved Wagner or because he thought he’d bring irreperable harm to the Phils?

  6. (5)Chili-I give Minaya somewhat of a pass last offseason in regards to the bullpen only because no one foresaw them being this bad.

    That and Wagner’s injury, which was the final crippling blow. What I do get on him for is not bringing in more viable options outside of Matt Wise as well as placing a little too much trust in Duaner Sanchez’s return.

    I do agree with you about this offseason. A closer alone will not cut it. They need at least one more impact arm in there outside of a closer.

  7. (6)Harry-That is how you build a bullpen in today’s game. Look at the Phillies, I believe Ryan Madson is the only one in their ‘pen who they developed.

    This isn’t like drafting and developing starters or everyday players. Bullpen’s are generally pieced together via homegrown, trades and then FAs.

  8. I have heard that many people on the inside believe that the Mets will sign K-Rod to a 3 year deal which I would do in a heartbeat.

    Then, the Mets have laid the groundwork for trading Heilman+ to Colorado for Street who would be the 8th inning man.

  9. metsman; If you think it is ok to have no options from your system, then I understand completely why you think Minaya is a an OK GM. I don’t buy it. A strong organization has as many young homegrown options as possible in as many places as possible, to allow them to use payroll in targetted areas and to give them more options everywhere. When all your options are on the FA market you are dependent on too much luck about who will be on the FA market, and you cannot make a move in July when injuries and unfulfilled promises of some players cause you to have needs that were unforeseen over the Winter.

  10. What I really don’t understand about the Omar-bashers is that, despite the fact that he has repeatedly said that his priorities for the Winter are pitching, pitching and pitching; and he has specified Closer; SP; set-up guys; they seem convinced he’s planning to do nothing this Winter.

    Here and on several message boards I post at I see the patience of a 5-year old with an empty stomach. Relax, folks, it’s December 1, not April 1. Not ONE major FA has signed ANYWHERE yet.

    Can we at least wait until Christmas before we gripe about our empty stocking?

  11. (10) Harry, although the original topic was stictly “set up roles or a closer” to quote Mr. Delcos, your overall criticism of organizational depth is one I agree with.

    While I am overall pro-Omar (when factoring trades & free agent signings) I am disappointed specifically in the Mets’ seeming inability to fill roster spots from within. In other words, how they stock their minor league teams.

    It’s certainly imperfect, in part because it involves previous regimes, but I did an informal comparison of the Mets roster to those of 2008′s post season participants.

    My search was for “homegrown talent.” I defined homegrown talent as any player drafted or signed by the club who had never played for another major league organization (so playing in Japan or Cuba was not a strike against). To be consistent, I used the top 13 in at bats and the top 12 in innings pitched for each team. Here’s what I found:

    Team, followed by # of homegrown players
    Mets – 6
    Phillies – 9
    Rays – 8
    Dodgers – 11
    Red Sox – 10
    White Sox – 6
    Angels – 15
    Cubs – 10
    Brewers – 8

    Do with that information what you will. The one thing I’d like to stop before it starts is the “but the Mets traded 4 minor leaguers to the Twins for Santana.” Of course that is true, but what’s also true is that all of the above teams also have traded away minor leaguers in the last 12 months.

    So while I support Omar, I feel he needs to seriously improve his drafting/scouting if the Mets are to be perennial contenders.

  12. To Harry/Grave-Omar does need to improve the overall depth in the minors…but he has. There are several guys at the lower levels who are beginning to get notoriety.

    Now, Harry, you mention depth and when you do, it’s always in regards to the pitching. Again, he traded relievers from the minor league system for SP help when the team had a rotation of Glavine, Perez (3-13 in ’06), Maine (3 months of full-time MLB service) and El Duque/Pelfrey and Pedro who was known to be out until Sept.

    For the Omar bashers who says he doesn’t know how to build a system…do you want to compete? Because what he did when he came here was sign free agents that have/had been key components of a winning team for 4 straight years.

    Doing so, he forfeited draft picks because said players were Type-A players.

    Of course the system would be bereft of talent, just like the Yankees were during the ’00-’06 seasons because they imported FAs year-in-and-year-out. The difference is the Mets HAD to sign guys to become legit again.

    He drafted Pelfrey, he drafted Joe Smith…two key components on the team. Considering he had no 1st rounders in ’06 or ’07, let’s give it another year on the prospect front before condemning him there.

  13. Heb (12)–that’s a very skewed way to look at things. While it’s nice to stock your roster with homegrowns, why is it less significant to use those kids to obtain a Santana? Or a Piazza, a Delgado, a Leiter?

    And if we trade a AAA SS for someone else’s RP, and the RP becomes a valuable part of the ML team, IMO that’s as good as keeping him or moving him to another position because SS is filled.

    Somewhere there’s a list of all ML players and the orgs they started with. A look at that list and seeing the # of Mets products who “made it”, regardless of which ML team they “made it” with, would mean more than a simple list of “keepers”.

  14. Metsman said what I was going to say.

    There was a time not too long ago when it was reported that players would not come to Shea. In a very short period of time we made the playoffs.

    Now you could argue that the stars aligned for us in 06 and it was just dumb luck. But in the past several years Omar imported Beltran, Pedro, OP, El Duque, Maine, Sanchez, Delgado, Church, Schneider, Johan, etc.

    These players and more made us a team to care about again. I am not saying that Omar does not deserve blame. For example we had a good pen in 06 and a terrible one last year. The pen got burned out and the roster is full of old broken players.

    You can argue that Omar gambled and lost as many as he won. Perhaps he is not GM of the year the past 2 years but he is not terrible.

    By signing Johan he laid a cornerstone for this franchise for the next few years. FMart is supposed to be part of that future and Murphy is an exciting player. They join Jose and David as the core of this team. Hopefully Church is the player he was for the first month and a half.

    There is still a lot of work. Many holes to fill, but we have a start of something that can be good and Omar is a large part of putting it together.

  15. (14) bill metsiac, I agree it’s not perfect, in fact I stated that in my diatribe, but one has to start somewhere, and so we begin.

    I never said it’s less significant to use the kids to send them elsewhere, on the contrary I pointed out that all teams trade chips. What I was getting at was that, somehow, those other teams still had something left in the cupboard.

    Yes, the Mets sent 4 potential keepers to get Santana. The Brewers sent multiple players away to acquire Sabathia, yet still had more “keepers” remaining. The Phillies got Blanton, the Dodgers Manny, the Red Sox Bay, the Angels Teixeira and the Cubs Harden. Most of those teams acquired a significant piece or pieces and with the exception of the White Sox still had more “keepers” in the till.

    The key to stocking one’s roster with homegrowns is the cost certainty/player control, which the Mets lack due to their paucity of homegrown talent, which might explain why (according to Cot’s contracts) the Mets had a higher payroll than every one of those teams. That limits their flexibility.

    That is why the Angels can have such a solid rotation and lineup, can afford to sign Torii Hunter a year before Garrett Anderson leaves via free agency, and allow K-Rod to leave with Jose Arredondo waiting in the wings. All while having a payroll $18 million less than that of the Mets, and the Mets don’t have to pay a DH!

    Yes, it’s somewhat “skewed.” But what’s not skewed is that despite the 2nd highest payroll in baseball they have few options from within to use to fill their many holes.

    You are absolutely right that a list of players who “made it” would be more to the point but I haven’t seen such a list and I haven’t the time to research it myself. I still believe that the information above must indicate something relevant, and that something is not good.

    Loosely related, of the 200 players I researched on those playoff team’s rosters to determine “homegrown” status, 197 of them got their starts outside of the Met organization. Only Guillermo Mota, Octavio Dotel and Scott Kazmir started with the Mets and “made it” with those teams. Given that there are 30 major league teams, on average each team should contribute 6.67 players to that total. The Mets are below average there too.

  16. (16) Grave-I agree with your premise but not your position.

    The Angels, a team with a high payroll, great success and big-time minor league talent…is the exception, not the rule.

    Times are starting to change and head in that direction, but the Mets are not nearly alone in that department.

    Now, whether Minaya changes too is where he should be judged.

  17. Wiggy, Jacobs, Gomez, Bannister, Milledge and others had their roots in the Mets system. Just because their current teams didn’t make the P-S, that is not a reflection of these players’ ability to perform in the majors.

    As to the Brewers, Chisox, etc, let’s consider that years of finishing at or near the bottom produce lots of First-round draft picks. Not signing FAs, and losing FAs to other teams produce more draft picks. And with decent scouting, those picks produce quality prospects.

    And low budgets necessitate keeping those kids instead of trading them for high-priced veterans.

    Omar’s job since coming here fell into three segments:

    1) Build credibility to a losing franchise.
    2) Maintain that credibility by trades or FA signings.
    3) Establish a team built around a core of young players.

    1) & 2) are done. As disappointed as we’ve been by the final days of the past few seasons, there’s no doubt that the Mets are credible contenders.

    3) is still “in progress”, with Reyes, Wright, Murphy, Santana, Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez all under 30. And kids like Flores, Marte, Evans, Duda, Carp, Bowman, and LOTS of talented young pitchers are a year or two away.

  18. Just noticed that Kerry Wood was not offered arbitration by the Cubs.

    I wonder…if the Mets were able to swing a deal for Street or someone like that sooner rather than later, if they WOULD take a risk on Wood as the closer. You’d have a legit backup plan in place, it would cost you A LOT less, freeing up money for other needs, and the upside with Wood is greater.

  19. metsman (13) Have to disagree again. Minaya got one free agent who was key to the team in the beginning of his era. Beltran. The other key mainstays were a gift, Reyes and wright, at the beginning of their careers. The team would have improved that first season even with Duquette.
    As for the bottom of the system, you know as well as anybody, that it doesn’t mean anything what you have in half season ball and low A. There are few Dwight Gooden’s anywhere who make that jump.
    As for Santana I had no problems with that deal. What I have a problem with is wasting kids on mediocre catchers and average outfielders whom even Minaya has shown you can find all over the place very cheap (Tatis, Castro).
    As for your later statement that the Angels depth is the exceptio that is wrong as well. In the 90′s the Yankees reached their peak when they had many homegrown players in te prime of their life, Williams, Rivera, Pettite, Jeter, Posada. That gave them total freedom to do other moves. The Red Sox became the new beast of the East when they developed the homegrown guys that made them so strong today. Strong rich orgs, do it from wiothin so they can do what they want . Crappy org rich orgs have to go one route, notably the Mets and the Yankees today.
    I do agree with you about Woods and Street. Street is exactly the kind of move that made the Phils WS champs. Lidge wasn’t regarded any better than Street is today. The Phils were blasted for getting this guy who would soon be booed out of Philly land. Street could be th same guy with a 2nd chance.

  20. (20) Harry-I wasn’t talking about players in the low minors who can/will jump up now and be successful, but in a year or two or later this year for some of those who were successful at high-A/AA last season, it’s possible.

    As for the FA route…Beltran is not the only player. Wagner was another type-A…two first-round picks gone for two successive seasons. Then you factor in the “prospects” he traded away to obtain Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado…two key components of the ’06 team. No, they didn’t win, but would you rather have had a crap catcher and Mike Jacobs at 1B? I wouldn’t have. You mention the Schneider deal…Lastings Milledge will never live up to the hype he had here in NY. I think he’ll probably be a good player, 20-25 homers…but it may never have happened here. He was constantly in the middle of turmoil. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs and he felt that the deal would help the Mets in two places. It was fine until Church got his brain scrambled.

    Since Minaya took over in ’04, he drafted Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell, Joe Smith, Eddie Kunz, Daniel Murphy, Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Brad Holt (who scouts think could be a very good reliever) and signed Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores and other international players.

    Don’t always believe what you read about the Mets minor league system. It’s not heavy at the AAA level, that is for sure, but there is talent in the system and based on Minaya’s unwillingness to deal it away in ’07 and ’08, he’s planning on keeping them or only dealing them for big-time players, a la Santana.

    Like Dave said a few posts up…Minaya deserves blame for things. He’s depended far too much on older players and some of his moves have not worked out, but I’m failing to grasp this “he has gotten rid of all of the depth” argument.

    Maybe the Mets didn’t have depth to begin with when he took over and by trying to get the Mets back to contention on the fly, he dealt away what little they had while also forfeiting two picks because of Beltran/Wagner.

    All of your griping about him, the team went from 71 wins in ’04 to 97 in ’06.

  21. metsman (21) To me Wagner was pure poison everwhere he has been and despite his saves, he was posion in the locker room and he totally sucked in the clutch. I have him as a bad sign.
    Delgado was a good trade. I never thought Jacobs was more than average at best. He hasn’t changed my opinion of him. The LoDuca trade was also in my good category. But, LoDuca was a crap catcher, who could hit a little.
    As I said this team would have improved its reord drastically by doing nothing merely because the two kids went from raw to stars. Two kids who were not traded away by Minaya’s much hated ( by Met fans) predecessors).
    And I’m not griping , I’m statring my opinion which disagrees with yours, and you alsways eventually come back to personal statements. Everyone doesn’t have to think the GM is super, everyone doesn’t have to love everything Mets to root for the Mets. If you ever learn to understand that, you will become a much more interesting person to debate with. Until that time how can we debate when you always return to the personal?

  22. metsman said and I quote “All of your griping about him….”

    opinions which disagree with yours are not griping, they are OPINIONS, and they are not better nor worse than yours, they are points of discussion that you apparently have a major problem with, for what reason I don’t know and I don’t care. If you can’t deal with opinions that differ from yours, then I suggest you don’t discuss….

  23. So you’re taking a word I used and distorting it to fit your agenda?

    Your “opinion” is also called a “gripe” You have a problem with the way Minaya does so…that’s what I said.

    That’s personal?

  24. metsman: I have an agenda!!!! An agenda to do so something on a blog site about the Mets !!! The only thing funnier than your ignorance is your ego…… Bother someone else. I’m done with you.

  25. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    Stop fighting boys, tis just a game. One hates Omar, the other feels the need to defend him. There is nothing personal I see.

  26. Actually, Mr Met, I like Omar. On TV he is entertaining to listen too. I just think he’s quite below average as a GM. This is his second stop on the GM tour. While one can validly argue that nobody could win in Montreal, the franchise before he came was able to keep its minors well stocked with good young players as they sold off one vet after another. When Omar came he destroyed their farm kind of what he has done in New York. It has nothing to do with like or disliking the guy.
    Unlike Metsman, I can give Omar credit and criticize him. I have always given him great credit for finding guys whom baseball has put on the scrap heap and given them chances they succeeded at. Guys like Valentin, Tatis, Chavez, Roberto Hernandez.
    He’s bad at having a strong farm and he’s worst at his failure to recognize aging players will lose skills and become injury prone.