Feb 12

Analyzing Mets’ Bullpen After Jose Valverde Signing

For each of the past three winters New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has tried to construct a bullpen. Until Bobby Parnell showed signs of being the first reliable closer since Billy Wagner was traded to Boston in 2009 in a salary dump, it has been a ninth-inning adventure.

Francisco Rodriguez and Frank Francisco were tried, but their best days were in the rear view mirror. Alderson brought in another retread today with the signing of Jose Valverde to a minor league contract.

PARNELL: Lead domino in bullpen.

PARNELL: Lead domino in bullpen.

He’ll compete against the masses for a spot in the bullpen. Alderson said he other day the Mets had money to spend, but after striking out on Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney, he hopes to catch an encore from Valverde.

Valverde, 35, was on the top when he converted 49 of 49 opportunities in 2011 for Detroit, but spit the bit the following year in the playoffs. He had an unimpressive nine saves in 12 opportunities with a 5.59 ERA last year.

The construction of the Mets’ bullpen depends on Parnell, who saved 22 of 29 games before undergoing surgery last September to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Parnell lost 30 pounds after the surgery, but told reporters in Port St. Lucie he’s doing fine.

“Everything is feeling great, no pain,’’ Parnell said. “I mean, I haven’t done it yet, so obviously, you want to know. But we’re doing little things every day to get to that point. I’ve had no setbacks or pain or anything like that.’’

Parnell won’t be cleared for two weeks, and there is reasonable doubt he won’t be ready for the start of the season. There hasn’t been an announcement of how many innings manager Terry Collins wants to give him this spring. Normally, starters hope to get 30 innings with relievers nearly half that amount.

Vic Black, whom the Mets acquired from Pittsburgh last year in the Marlon Byrd-John Buck deal, is first in line after Parnell. Black is 25 and throws in the mid-90s, which is a lot to like.

If Black doesn’t make it, presumably Kyle Farnsworth and Valverde are next. Assuming Black pitches well and wins the closer job, Valverde and Farnsworth will compete for the set-up role, vacated when LaTroy Hawkins left as a free agent.

In large part because of Parnell’s emergence and Hawkins’ resurgence, the Mets’ bullpen finished 22nd in the majors with a 3.98 ERA in 2013. They ranked 29th and 28th in Alderson’s first two years.

Alderson has built on the cheap, but that approach would have changed had he signed Balfour or Rodney. Joel Hanrahan is available should Alderson have the urge to spend.

Truth is, you can’t have too many pitchers – starters or relievers – in the system because there are always injuries and pitching slumps. In addition, a guy like Valverde, if he shows something, could be a July trade chip.

You never know.

Outside of the 29-year-old Parnell, Farnsworth and Valverde, we’re not talking about significant experience. The rest of the pen includes Jeurys Familia, 24, who throws in the mid-90s, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres, Ryan Reid, Jeff Walters and Cory Mazzoni, all whom throw from the right side.

The Mets’ left-handers are Josh Edgin and Scott Rice, the latter whom was a 32-year-old rookie last season after 14 years of knocking on the major league doors. The Mets also invited prospect lefty Jack Leathersich to compete for a spot.

That makes 13 relievers competing for seven slots.

“We’ve got a lot of good young arms that we like; they just don’t have much experience,’’ Alderson said. “Acquiring someone with some experience would give us some comfort going into Spring Training, but we don’t want to preclude some of our younger pitchers from getting a solid opportunity either.’’

How much comfort Valverde gives remains to be seen. He certainly didn’t make Jim Leyland’s job easier the past two years.

But, that’s what you get when you shop in the bargain bin.

Feb 03

Mets Still Looking For Bullpen Help; Add Kyle Farnsworth

How much money the New York Mets have left to spend during what is left of their offseason is uncertain, but as recently reported here, it is earmarked for the bullpen, specifically a closer as Bobby Parnell’s status is questionable.

FARNSWORTH: Added to pen.

FARNSWORTH: Added to pen.

Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Hanrahan have been mentioned on this site. ESPN added Kevin Gregg and Ryan Madson to the table.

Farnsworth, who has pitched for the Yankees, was signed to a minor-league deal Monday and given an invitation to spring training.

At 37, he was a combined 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA last season with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. Farnsworth’s role with the Mets, assuming he makes the team, will be not as a closer but to provide depth.

Figuring Parnell will not be ready for the season, the configuration of the Mets’ bullpen will be Vic Black – the presumed closer – Farnsworth, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen and Jeurys Familia.

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Dec 08

Granderson Signing Doesn’t Answer All Mets Concerns

We can no longer say the Mets won’t doing anything in the Hot Stove League. While I have been cool on Chris Young, landing Curtis Granderson gives the Mets’ offseason a warmer sense of legitimacy and that more could be coming.

General manager Sandy Alderson projects a payroll in the low-$90 million level, and even with the Granderson and Young signings, the Mets will have more to spend to reach that plateau.

There could be more flexibility if they are able to trade Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, which would be roughly a combined $8 million they could take on.

Last month Alderson said there were a half-dozen teams interested in Davis, and even Lucas Duda fielded some inquiries, but nothing has come of that since.

The Mets’ priority remains starting pitching. Ricky Nolasco and/or Phil Hughes would have looked good in the back end of the Mets’ rotation, but both signed long-term deals totaling $73 million by the small-market Minnesota Twins. Jason Vargas got $32 million over four years from the small-market Kansas City Royals. All this could have the Mets looking harder at Bronson Arroyo, who earlier had been talking to the Twins.

With Matt Harvey gone for the season and two holes in the rotation there are a couple of certainties: 1) Jon Niese will not be traded as some had speculated, and 2) prospect Rafael Montero will not be traded, unless a major league ready starter comes in return.

The Mets also need to increase depth in their bullpen, especially considering Bobby Parnell is coming off surgery. If he’s fine, he’ll resume the closer role. If not, Vic Black will get the first shot in spring training.

The Mets also like Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen and lefty Scott Rice. That’s five, meaning they’ll need to pick up one or two more arms.

Shortstop was a significant question after the season, but considering how the market developed it appears as if Ruben Tejada will have the first opportunity to reclaim his job. The Mets were hot for Jhonny Peralta, and also kicked the tires on Rafael Furcal, but they signed elsewhere. Stephen Drew is still available, but he’s priced himself out of consideration.

There is also a need for a veteran reserve catcher. Immediately coming to mind is to bring back John Buck, who was not brought back by the Pirates.

The Mets won 74 games last year, just seven games below .500. If they had Harvey, I would say they could be a .500 team with the addition of Granderson. But, he’s not here and what remains in a hole in the rotation.

No Shaun Marcum this time. Alderson needs to land quality starters if this will be a quality summer.

LATER TODAY: Would a Daniel Murphy-Brett Gardner trade make sense?

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

 

Nov 01

Mets Have Plenty Of Choices In Free Agent Market

 It never takes long for the free-agent season to begin with 147 players now on the market, including seven New York Mets. The Mets’ list includes: David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Aaron Harang, LaTroy Hawkins and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Shortly, Johan Santana will join them as the Mets are expected to decline their option and pay him the $5.5 million buyout.

All are pitchers, which is a primary need. The Mets are seeking two starters for the back end of their rotation and could make a run at bringing back Matsuzaka and/or Harang.

For now, the Mets filled those spots on their 40-man roster by activating the following seven players from the 60-day injured reserve list: Ike Davis, Josh Edgin, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Parnell and Scott Rice.

Harvey and Hefner are expected to miss the 2014 season, and it isn’t known whether Parnell and Mejia, both recovering from surgery, will be available for the start of the season.

Rice should be ready, while Davis could end up being traded as the Mets have a glut of first basemen.

The Major League Baseball Players Association has released the following list of 147 players who are free agents:

ATLANTA

RHP: Luis Ayala, Freddy Garcia, Tim Hudson, Kameron Loe.

LHP: Scott Downs, Paul Maholm, Eric O’Flaherty.

C: Brian McCann.

ARIZONA

C: Wil Nieves.

INF: Willie Bloomquist, Eric Chavez.

BALTIMORE

RHP: Scot Feldman, Jason Hammel.

C: Chris Snyder.

INF: Brian Roberts.

OF: Nate McLouth, Michael Morse.

BOSTON

RHP: Joel Hanrahan.

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

INF: Stephen Drew, John McDonald, Mike Napoli.

OF: Jacoby Ellsbury.

CHICAGO CUBS

RHP: Scott Baker, Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier.

C: Dioner Navarro.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

RHP: Gavin Floyd.

INF: Paul Konerko.

CINCINNATI

RHP: Bronson Arroyo, Nick Masset.

LHP: Zach Duke, Manny Parra.

IF: Cesar Izturis.

OF: Shin-Soo Choo.

CLEVELAND

RHP: Matt Albers, Joe Smith.

LHP: Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir.

C: Kelly Shoppach.

INF: Jason Giambi.

COLORADO

RHP: Rafael Betancourt, Roy Oswalt.

LHP: Jeff Francis.

C: Yorvit Torrealba.

INF: Todd Helton.

DETROIT

RHP: Joaquin Benoit, Jeremy Bonderman, Octavio Dotel.

C: Bravan Pena.

INF: Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago.

HOUSTON

LHP: Erik Bedard.

KANSAS CITY

RHP: Bruce Chen, Ervin Santana.

INF: Carlos Pena, Miguel Tejada.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

LHP: Jason Vargas.
OF: Jerry Hairston.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

RHP: J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez, Brian Wilson.

INF: Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Juan Uribe, Michael Young.

MIAMI

RHP: Chad Qualls.

INF: Placido Polanco.

OF: Matt Diaz, Austin Kearns, Juan Pierre.

MILWAUKEE

LHP: Mike Gonzalez.

INF: Yuniesky Betancourt.

OF: Corey Hart.

MINNESOTA

RHP: Mike Pelfrey.

NEW YORK YANKEES

RHP: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Mariano Rivera,

LHP: Andy Pettitte.

INF: Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Brendan Ryan, Kevin Youkilis.

OF: Curtis Granderson.

OAKLAND

RHP: Grant Balfour, Bartolo Colon.

PHILADELPHIA

RHP: Roy Halladay.

C: Carlos Ruiz.

PITTSBURGH

RHP: A.J. Burnett, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Karstens.

C: John Buck.

INF: Justin Morneau.

OF: Marlon Byrd,

SAN DIEGO

RHP: Jason Marquis.

INF: Ronny Cedeno.

OF: Mark Kotsay.

SEATTLE

LHP: Oliver Perez.

C: Humberto Quintero.

INF: Kendrys Morales

OF: Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez.

SAN FRANCISCO

RHP: Chad Gaudin.

LHP: Javier Lopez.

ST. LOUS

RHP: Chris Carpenter, Edward Mujica.

INF: Rafael Furcal.

OF: Carlos Beltran.

TAMPA BAY

RHP: Jesse Crain, Roberto Hernandez, Fernando Rodney, Jamey Wright.

C: Jose Molina.

INF: Kelly Johnson, James Loney, Luke Scott.

OF: Delmon Young.

TEXAS

RHP: Jason Frasor, Matt Garza, Colby Lewis.

C: A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto.

INF: Lance Berkman,

OF: Nelson Cruz.

TORONTO

RHP: Josh Johnson, Ramon Ortiz.

LHP: Darren Oliver.

OF: Rajai Davis.

WASHINGTON

RHP: Dan Haren.

INF: Chad Tracy.

Sep 07

Mets See Good In Zack Wheeler Despite Loss; Scott Rice Season Ends

The result wasn’t what the New York Mets wanted, but overall they must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Zack Wheeler this season.

Even Friday night when he walked five in five innings in a loss at Cleveland.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

I thought Wheeler might have been rushed to the major leagues because he didn’t dominate at Triple-A Las Vegas, and that idea seemed to be reinforced when his control was off early. Wheeler seemed to correct the problem, but it resurfaced against the Indians.

However, after the game he told reporters his shoulder was “flying open.’’ That he understood that flaw, no doubt pointed out by pitching coach Dan Warthen, but limited the damage are positives.

What’s next for Wheeler’s development is to not only notice a mechanical issue by himself, but also be able to correct it during the game. The great ones cannot only recognize a flaw by where their pitch went, but correct in during the at-bat.

During his first two starts, the Mets went overboard in calling his pitches – perhaps in the wake of Terry Collins getting messages Wheeler was tipping his pitches – but they quickly abandoned that plan and allowed him to use his fastball.

Although the Mets will limit his innings for the remainder of the season, Wheeler, 7-4, could get another three or four starts, and should he run the table, will have won more games than Matt Harvey.

Who would have thought that in April?

Who also would have envisioned at the time that Scott Rice would still be around?

Everybody expected big things from Harvey, but Rice was easily the Mets’ most inspirational story of the season. Harvey was the given; Rice was the underdog who made good.

The 31-year-old lefty reliever toiled for 14 years in the minor leagues before hooking on with the Mets this spring. He didn’t stick because of the state of their bullpen, but because he deserved to in leading the majors with 73 appearances.

Rice was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, but his most important statistic was the .174 average lefties hit off him. As a lefty specialist, that’s important. Rice walked 27 and struck out 41, and could go into spring training as the lead lefty in the pen.

Rice’s season, however, ended with the news he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even so, Rice was a good Mets’ story this summer. Maybe the best.

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