Nov 15

Mets’ Pitching Plan Has Questions

On the surface, the plan the Mets are currently mulling about preventing their starters from going through the order a third time makes a lot of sense. All the numbers point to a starter losing effectiveness the longer he stays in the game. They all can’t be Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber or Jacob deGrom.

DE GROM: It all begins with him. (AP)

DE GROM: It all begins with him. (AP)

It is common practice during the postseason, but at that time a manager has more off days in which to rest relievers and can replace the fifth starter with a long reliever in which to plug in.

“We will not allow our guys to struggle the third time through the lineup if we can avoid it,’’ Mets manager Mikey Callaway said at the General Managers Meetings. “We want them to be the best versions of themselves and have success. There are so many factors that will come into play you just can’t simply say that you are going to leave guys in until a certain point or take them out in a certain point.’’

For that plan to work during the regular season a team needs a solid rotation, a flexible bridge to work the middle innings, and a strong back end of the bullpen.

Of the three, the Mets only have the last one.

It begins with a strong starting rotation, one which means all five starters have to consistently go at least five innings, but preferably six. The Mets have deGrom and lots of issues from two through five:

Noah Syndergaard is coming off a partially torn lat muscle and only got in a couple of innings in late summer. While he is optimistic, we simply don’t know what to expect from him. Sure, it would be nice to pencil in 30 starts and 200 innings, but …

Matt Harvey did not respond well to thoracic surgery. He was rushed back and sustained a stress injury. The best thing the Mets can hope for is a strong first half to draw trade interest at the deadline. There’s no more talk about winning 20 games, winning the Cy Young or being signed to a long-term contract.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are both coming off surgery and nobody knows what to expect, let alone them averaging five innings over 30 starts.

Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Rafael Montero and Chris Flexen all made starts, but none have defined roles entering spring training. If the projected rotation performs, then any of them can be slotted in to work multiple innings several times a week, but we don’t know if they can do it in back-to-back games.

These four can also be inserted into the rotation if any of the projected five starters struggle, but if not they could work out of the pen. The questions in the middle of the game and possibility of the anticipated starters breaking down is why GM Sandy Alderson traded for relievers last July.

Granted Alderson added quantity and is open to reacquiring Joe Smith and signing Bryan Shaw. But, how much is he willing to spend? Mets’ history dictates he won’t do it; four relievers making $7 million or more is just not in their DNA.

For this plan to work the Mets need all three facets of their pitching staff to perform, but there are too many questions and issues working against them.

Oct 04

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Bullpen Options

The New York Mets have spent the past three winters trying to build a bullpen. There will be a fourth winter, and this time the free agent marked is loaded with arms from the Mets’ current bullpen: Pedro Feliciano, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison, Frank Francisco, David Aardsma and Tim Byrdak.

There is also Darren Oliver, Oliver Perez, Manny Acosta, Matt Lindstom (drafted by, but never played for), Jon Rauch and Joe Smith from other eras.

CHAMBERLAIN: Is he on Mets' radar?

CHAMBERLAIN: Is he on Mets’ radar?

“We’ve had problems building up the back end of the bullpen,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said.

That defined the problem this season as Bobby Parnell grasped the brass ring when Francisco went down, and only lost it because of a neck injury. Surgery was successful, but Alderson said he’s more concerned about Parnell regaining the nearly 30 pounds he lost and getting back to playing condition.

I’d consider Byrdak first because he’s left-handed and had good moments with the, Mets and Hawkins, who can still hit 95 mph. on the gun and did a good job this season. The only no-brainers in that group are Francisco and naturally, Perez.

There are several intriguing names on the list, notably Joe Nathan, Texas has his option, and Detroit’s Joaquin Bernoit. However, as closers, they would be pricey for the Mets, who are banking on Parnell’s return.

Finally, there is the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain, who is a mess, but like Phil Hughes could benefit by leaving the Bronx.

Chamberlain’s health issues appear behind him. He was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA don’t suggest dominance, and neither does his monstrous 1.73 WHIP. However, 38 strikeouts in 42 innings, says there’s still pop on his fastball. He earned $1.88 million last season, so his raise shouldn’t overwhelm the Mets. He’s also 28, meaning he’s young enough to turn his career around.

* Denotes option.

 

David Aardsma
Jeremy Accardo
Manny Acosta
Matt Albers
Scott Atchison
Luis Ayala
Grant Balfour
Matt Belisle *
Joaquin Benoit
Rafael Betancourt *
Bill Bray
Craig Breslow
Tim Byrdak
Shawn Camp
Matt Capps
Joba Chamberlain
Jose Contreras
Manny Corpas
Jesse Crain
Joey Devine
Octavio Dotel
Scott Downs
Chad Durbin *
Kyle Farnsworth
Pedro Feliciano
Frank Francisco
Jason Frasor
Chad Gaudin
Mike Gonzalez
Kevin Gregg
Matt Guerrier
Joel Hanrahan
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Rich Hill
J.P. Howell
Casey Janssen *
Jesse Litsch
Matt Lindstrom *
Kameron Loe
Boone Logan
Javier Lopez
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Ryan Madson
Carlos Marmol
Nick Masset
Kyle McClellan
Peter Moylan
Edward Mujica
Joe Nathan *
Pat Neshek
Eric O’Flaherty
Will Ohman
Hideki Okajima
Darren Oliver
Juan Carlos Oviedo
Vicente Padilla
Manny Parra
Oliver Perez
Rafael Perez
Chad Qualls
Jon Rauch
Mariano Rivera
Fernando Rodney
J.C. Romero
George Sherrill
Joe Smith
Matt Thornton *
Koji Uehara
Jose Veras *
Jamey Wright

 

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Sep 26

Name your Dirty Dozen.

``Death by Bullpen''

``Death by Bullpen''

Let’s fast forward for a moment and assume the Mets are in the playoffs. The assumption would have them opening against the Cubs. From what we saw this week, it should be a great series.

However, right now Jerry Manuel has the luxury of using the expanded roster. That won’t be the case next week. He’ll need to pick a pitching staff. I think it will be 12 deep.

Here’s mine:

1. Johan Santana
2. Mike Pelfrey
3. Oliver Perez
4. Pedro Martinez
5. Aaron Heilman
6. Scott Schoeneweis
7. Pedro Feliciano
8. Joe Smith
9. Brian Stokes
10. Luis Ayala
11. Duaner Sanchez
12. Richard Rincon

Sep 23

Overhauling the bullpen

The Mets blew 29 save opportunities so far this season, and with them, perhaps a chance at the playoffs. Adding a top notch closer such as Francisco Rodriguez would improve the bullpen, but not put it over the top.

Billy Wagner blew seven save opportunities, but even worse was the bridge leading up to him. It was more than just a bad season.

Here’s how I see the pen:

-Billy Wagner: Won’t pitch for the Mets again. No brainer. However, he will get paid $11 million by them, and that will inhibit what they do this winter. I don’t see them paying both Wagner and Rodriguez.

-Aaron Heilman: They’ve resisted trading him the past two winters. They should pull the trigger if they get an offer this time. Heilman wants to start and since the Mets won’t give him that opportunity, they should try to get what they can. If they wanted to give Heilman a chance at being the fifth starter, I’d entertain it because it is clear this bullpen thing isn’t working out.

-Scott Schoeneweis: I can’t believe they gave him three years. (I mistakenly said he was done after this year. He’s signed through 2009).

-Joe Smith: Has his moments, both good and bad. Will be brought back.

-Pedro Feliciano: I’ve always been cool on him for some reason, even when he’s pitched well. I think they’ll bring him back.

-Luis Ayala: He saved a few games. Big deal. I don’t see him as the answer at closer. I do see him coming back.

-Carlos Muniz: Wouldn’t miss him.

-Ricardo Rincon: Ditto.

-Duaner Sanchez: He doesn’t have his fastball anymore. Certainly not a set-up man or closer type anymore. Not a loss if they don’t bring him back.

-Brian Stokes: More good appearances than bad. I’d like to see him back.

-Nelson Figueroa: Feel good story early this season. Very hittable.

-Brandon Knight: Pitched decently. Long man?

-Bobby Parnell: Can bring the heat. Let’s see what he can do in spring training.