Apr 07

April 7.10: Phillies pick up Figueroa.

The Phillies claimed Nelson Figueroa on waivers this afternoon thereby mercifully ending the pitcher’s shuttle to Buffalo. Before we torch the Mets before this, remember his career record and he did get a chance with the team.

I will say, however, that I thought he’d stick as the long man this year.

Mar 25

March 25.10: Niese fifth starter favorite.

It is by no means a given, but Jon Niese has emerged as the frontrunner to be the team’s fifth starter. Jerry Manuel said yesterday Niese has the inside track over Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi.

At one point this spring, I thought Takahashi was the favorite, but moved off that because he didn’t have enough innings to be sufficiently stretched out. The path of least resistance would have been to option Niese because he has options remaining, but he has pitched well enough to warrant a chance and there are other variables.

Most specifically, the sad state of the Mets’ bullpen. Niese couldn’t help out in the pen, but both Nieve as a long man and Takahashi as a left-hander fill two roles. Odd man out, as expected, is Figueroa.

Figueroa will pass through waivers then re-sign with the Mets and be pitching around June. Personally, I hope somebody claims him and he gets a chance to pitch.

Feb 25

Feb. 25.10: Fitting in Green.

Sometimes, I just don’t get Jerry Manuel. For instance, when talking about Sean Green, when the topic was his submarine delivery, he said he hopes it doesn’t reduce him to being a specialist.

Huh?

Isn’t that the whole essence of putting together a bullpen, finding a defined role for each guy? Obviously, there’s room for adjustment depending on the game situation, but don’t the terms long-man, closer, eighth-inning set-up man and “left-hander out of the bullpen,’’ all denote specialists?

When Manuel brings in Pedro Feliciano to face Adrian Gonzalez instead of a right-hander isn’t he using a specialist? Hell, each bullpen decision is about match-ups and subsequently about specialization.

As far as being a specialist, Manuel will determine that by how he uses Green. As a submariner, Green should be effective against both right-handed and left-handed, that is, if his ball in down, moving and on the corners.  If Manuel doesn’t want to pigeon-hole Green’s job – which on the surface would seem to be to come in and get the ground ball, especially against right-handed hitters – then he doesn’t have to.

It is Manuel’s job in constructing the bullpen to slot pitchers to different game situations. To say he doesn’t want Green to be a specialist is contrary to what should be going on.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with specialists as long as they do their job. In the basic sense every reliever should be a specialist in that their role should simply be to get hitters out, which has been a widespread problem of the bullpen the last three years.

Feb 24

Feb. 24.10: Wrapping up the day.

The following is an accumulation of news and notes from spring training today:

* Rod Barajas reported to camp and will wear Carlos Delgado’s No. 21.

* Japanese pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi threw live batting practice.

* Sean Green is working on a submarine delivery. In theory it should produce a sharper sinker conducive for getting the double-play grounder.

* Pedro Feliciano is working on a cutter. The more pitches the better.

* Jerry Manuel said Fernando Nieve is versatile enough to work as a long-man, eighth-inning set-up man or starter. That’s another way of saying he has no idea on how to use him. If Jon Niese steps up, Nieve would likely be the long man.

* Good reports so far on Angel Pagan’s confidence. Pagan has no doubt he can hold center field until Carlos Beltran’s return in mid-May.

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.