Dec 17

Can Cory Mazzoni Earn A Spot In Mets’ Bullpen?

One area the New York Mets are still working on is their bullpen, but manager Terry Collins said at the Winter Meetings one option could come from within in Cory Mazzoni.

Collins said Mazzoni, who was limited to 64 innings in 12 starts because of hamstring and elbow injuries at Class AA Binghamton, could be converted to the bullpen in spring training.

Several things could determine if a switch is made will be dependent on: 1) whether the Mets are able to sign a reliever, 2) whether they obtain a reliever in a trade involving Ike Davis, 3) Bobby Parnell’s status, and 4) how seriously they believe they could contend this season.

If one of the first two variables is reached, converting Mazzoni won’t be necessary, at least not immediately. If they don’t obtain anybody and Parnell isn’t ready, then they’ll need to add somebody.

Finally, if the Mets believe they can make a run in 2014, they might not want to entrust a bullpen slot in a rookie.

Whatever they decide, they should develop Mazzoni as a reliever in spring training because they’ll eventually need another arm out of the pen this summer.

Whether this is a permanent conversion depends on how he responds if his role is changed. Working in Mazzoni’s favor is he’s a power pitcher, with 74 strikeouts in those 64 innings. He also has good command with only 19 walks.

Assuming Parnell’s readiness following neck surgery, the Mets have six pieces in their bullpen, including Vic Black (the closer if Parnell can’t go), Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia.

Another possibility could be Jenrry Mejia should the Mets another starter.

I would avoid that option if possible as Mejia has pitched better as a starter and is more comfortable in that role. Plus, Mejia’s development has been hindered by injuries and by bouncing around from starting and relieving roles. I’d like to see him in the area he’s best at – which is starting – and see if he can develop there.

Yes, the Mets have young pitchers in their system, but Mejia is one of them. And, the more they can develop, the better trade options they’ll have in the future.

ON DECK: You can meet Zack Wheeler and Daniel Murphy tomorrow.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Nov 07

So Much More To Do Now Than Two Years Ago

What frightens me most about this coming offseason as compared to the last 3-4 is the enormity of moves that will be required to fill the vastness of areas that need correcting if we are to make a dent in the standings in 2013 to 2015.

Whereas in off-seasons past where each year had 2-3 items on our list of immediate priorities, we now find perplexing questions, major problems, and deep concerns at almost every position on the team. In a baseball sense, the Mets organization now resembles a scene from a post apocalyptic movie.

So let me start dealing out the cards, at least the way I see it, and don’t worry, I won’t be dealing from under the deck.

Catcher: Would Josh Thole be a starting catcher for any other team in the major leagues save the Mets? Thole will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and while your first impulse is to non-tender him, the Mets catching situation is so bad that they will be forced to tender him and keep him. He has zero value to any other team but the Mets and that’s because the rest of the catching corps is even worse. Catching is certainly an area that needs immediate attention, even at backup, but will it get any help?

First base: Will the real Ike Davis stand up. Truth be told I believe we saw the real Ike Davis in the second half and for now he is the Mets’ best power hitter, bar none. But will he remain a Met? Or will he be the one that goes as part of the new and bold changes Alderson warned would be coming? Davis will get an easy $3 million in arbitration this Winter, which will be nice for him and not so nice for the budget conscious Alderson. Follow the money.

Second base: Daniel Murphy may be a liability defensively, but he’s gotten better. He’s become a doubles machine at the plate, and who doesn’t love his intensity?  Ironically, Murphy has more job security with the Mets than either David Wright and Ike Davis right now. Cheap is good in Flushing. I find it all amusing. Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin might get some airtime if they’re still here when the clock strikes twelve.

Third base: Until David Wright’s contract situation is resolved, we don’t even know if he’ll be here in 2013. Sad, isn’t it? He holds about a dozen different franchise records and at 29 he may already have one foot out the door. If that happens, I’m not even sure the Mets will reinvest his $16 million – they haven’t reinvested a dime from Castillo, Perez, K-Rod, Beltran and Reyes, why would that change now? Top prospect Wilmer Flores is close, but still not ready.

Shortstop: Who would’ve thought that losing Jose Reyes would make the shortstop position the least of our concerns? Ruben Tejada will never be the catalyst that No. 7 was, but he sure can pick’em at short. He is definitely not a leadoff hitter, or a number two hitter for that matter, but he provides steady offense and the occasional timely hit. His backup is a toss-up and with Ronny Cedeno gone they’ll have to do some dumpster-diving to find a replacement.

Outfield: Wow, what a mess. The outfield and the bullpen is what defined Sandy Alderson in 2012. They were both his creations, and that’s indisputable. The plan according to Sandy is a Bay/Duda platoon in LF, Kirk Nieuwenhuis takes over in CF, and I have no idea who’s in RF. If Jordany Valdespin is still here, I’m sure we’ll see him, and the same goes for Mike Baxter. Scott Hairston is long gone. If Hell freezes over and they do add a significant player via trade or free agency, you can bet he’ll be an outfielder. That’s the plan. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan, but give the man credit, he has a plan.

Rotation: Pitching was a strength for the Mets last season. Minaya holdovers Santana, Dickey, Niese, Harvey and Gee all combined to give the Mets a solid rotation that included a Cy Young caliber season, a couple of breakthrough players, and even the franchise’s first no-hitter. Now as we enter the offseason, rumors abound that Dickey could be traded and even Niese. Santana and Gee will both be coming back from season ending injuries, and Harvey will be shouldering a bigger load. This might be the one area that Alderson should leave untouched, but nobody believes that will happen. It will be revamped and the Mets could lose an ace and their only southpaw. If that happens the Mets could be in store for a historic 100 loss season.

Bullpen: Whose up for another bullpen revamping? Do I have any takers? Like it or not, here it comes and I can’t wait to see what underachievers will be joining the pen for Season 3 of Bullpen Wars. For now, the only holdovers are the atrocious Frank Francisco who will get $6.5 million for his services, and fireballer Bobby Parnell who will get a huge raise in arbitration. They’ll be the highest paid and neither is a safe bet to close out games. Josh Edgin should easily beat out Robert Carson for the LOOGY role. Then it’s take your pick between Mejia, Familia, Hefner, Schwinden, and McHugh. That’s quite the assortment of question marks and not a sure thing among them. Buy hey, at least Carrasco is gone.

Can you believe that we have only one safe zone – shortstop? Everything else is up in the air right now…

Progress?

Jun 09

Bullpen a major concern; Bay benched tonight.

I recently wrote where the Mets have played exceedingly well despite a myriad of issues and stand by those words.

Not much was expected from these Mets coming out of spring training, but for the most part have played inspired, scrappy, ball. But, just when you thought it was safe to root for the Mets, along comes something like last night.

There they were, on the cusp of their fourth straight victory, the bullpen collapsed again to give up four runs in the eighth inning and one more in the ninth to watch it all slip away.

So, instead of playing for .500 tonight, the Mets are again three games under.

Also slipping away was a strong performance from Mike Pelfrey, which we haven’t had an abundance of this spring. Another good game from Jose Reyes was also wasted.

The bullpen, after a brief strong stretch, has been awful over the last 16 games with a 12.36 ERA in the seventh inning or later, with the opposition outscoring the Mets, 56-23.

Amidst the rubble of the collapsed pen has been Pedro Beato’s slide.  Hoping for Beato to recapture his early season form forced Terry Collins to, 1) stay with him too long and watch him give up three runs in a third of an inning, and 2) go to Jason Isringhausen when he wanted to rest him last night.

Collins relied on Isringhausen because he doesn’t have much faith in anybody else in the pen, especially with Francisco Rodriguez gassed lately.

There are no viable options on either the major league or minor league options, and until the bullpen rights itself the Mets improve much beyond where they are right now.

All this is a reminder what a disappointment Bobby Parnell has been. Even before his injury, he failed to perform as the set-up reliever and this has been one of the most important issues of the season.

Another key issue is Jason Bay, who is benched tonight amidst a 0-for-27 freefall. Bay, who hit 36 homers two years ago in Boston, is down to .207 with two homers and ten RBI.

I suppose it can get worse, but seeing if it does is like watching a car wreck on the highway. You watch out of morbid curiosity.

Jason Pridie replaces Bay in left tonight.

Here’s the lineup at Milwaukee:

Jose Reyes, SS

Justin Turner, 3B

Carlos Beltran, RF

Daniel Murphy, 1B

Angel Pagan, CF

Jason Pridie, LF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Jonathan Niese, LP

 

Apr 11

Bullpen implodes again; Isringhausen here.

We knew going in one of the Mets’ weaknesses was their bullpen, and less than 10 games into the season it has been true to form.

IZZY: Will he help?

A team looking to take the next step does not blow a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning. That’s what happened Sunday to the Mets, who responded by designating for assignment Blaine Boyer and optioning outfielder Lucas Duda and bringing up relievers Jason Isringhausen and Ryota Igarashi.

“The bullpen has been inconsistent, and that’s probably as positive an adjective as I can give,’’ said GM Sandy Alderson.

A better adjective is horrible, as the pen has given up 63 runners in 34.1 innings, many of which have scored. Over the last 11 innings, the pen has walked 11, and given up 10 hits and nine earned runs.

And, with the rotation not going long innings – Chris Young being the exception yesterday throwing seven – a losing record can be expected.

You can’t blame Alderson for taking Boyer over Isringhausen to start the season because he was caught in a contractual corner. Asking Isringhausen to say behind for extended spring training was a gamble worth taking. When you’re not dealing from a position of strength, you do what you can.

The Mets shopped in the bargain basement for relievers this winter spending just $4 million, and with that approach, what has happened is not a surprise. D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz and Boyer have not been effective.

I don’t know if Isringhausen will be that big of a difference, but he couldn’t hurt. At this point, anything might be a help.

 

UP NEXT: The importance of this week.

 

Jan 10

Do you still have faith in the Mets?

There have been countless lost seasons in this franchise’s history, many of them gone before pitchers and catchers report in February. This is looking like another one of those years.

The Mets only did minor tweaking this winter and are no better now than they were when the season ended. They are putting their stock in the season in the hopes of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran staying healthy, the continued development of Mike Pelfrey and some of their younger players, and encore seasons from RA Dickey and Angel Pagan.

In short, they are hoping everything breaks right, and even if it does, there are two holes in the rotation and a weak bullpen.

Still, the Mets are asking you to believe, with perhaps our biggest wish is for them to get rid of Oliver Perez before Opening Day.

As I look at the drifting snow and feel the cold, the warmth I usually feel this time of year because of spring training has slipped away like me on the ice this morning. Spring training is a time for optimism and hope, but this year realistic hope is around .500 at best. But, we knew this with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, who told us there would be no big spending this winter and he hoped the team would be competitive. That probably means a lot of close games before losing in the late innings.

Still, we follow the Mets because they are our team and are woven deep into our lives. We still love them like the gangly younger brother that embarrasses us. We are loyal to them because we know loyalty is about acceptance and we believe things will improve next year.

As we are distracted by football, we try to envision the snow gone, the grass green and lush and baseball occupying our spring nights. And, somewhere there is the hope this could be a fun summer regardless how it looks on paper now.