Time To Play Mets Wheel of Bullpen Fortune

 

While Mets fandom awaits a decision on whether Michael Bourn will be patrolling centerfield of Citi Field, leading off and becoming the catalyst for the Mets offense, we also await the official announcement of Brandon Lyon becoming a Met and another contestant on Wheel of Mets Bullpen.

Counting Lyons, I’m looking at 11 candidates for 6 or maybe 7 spots in the Mets pen, a bullpen that I feel was the biggest reason for the second half collapse the Mets found them in last season. When you have a relief core that allows close to 32 % of inherited runners to touch home plate and also finds themselves in 55 save opportunities and blowing 19 of those precious assignments, will break the spirit of even the most strong willed teams so when you have a team like the Mets that doesn’t exactly ooze self-esteem and pluck, the ineffective pen was more a kick in the gut than uplifting last season. Sandy Alderson realizes this as well and has gone out this offseason to assemble relievers to come to Port St. Lonesome to engage in a big time completion to come North and become a strength for the Mets instead of last year’s failure.

Building a bullpen can be a bit of a crapshoot and last year one of the players Alderson went out on a limb on was closer Frank Francisco, signing the volatile reliever for 2yrs/$12mil, a signing I’m sure the Mets GM would love to take back . Between nagging injuries and ineffectiveness it was a lost season for Francisco. Although Francisco did save 23 games in 26 opportunities, when he entered games with runners on base his percentage of inherited runners left on base was a woeful 67.2 % and he’d shoot himself in the foot many time with walks as well.

With the imminent signing of Brandon Lyons, the back end of the Mets pen should be improved over last year (in the words of Sandy Alderson when asked about whether the pen will be better in 2013 said “how could it be worse?”)  And what we will see in the camp is a good old fashion open completion for not just bullpen spots but for the very important back end of the pen spots.  So looking at the very early morning line let’s see who could or should emerge as the core of the Mets bullpen in 2013.

The guys I look for to make the move to be the 7th inning, 8th inning and closer are Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin, and Scott Atchison.  All five look to be Mets for 2013 but who of these 5 will step up to grab the closers job? I don’t see Bobby Parnell getting the job as he is much more effective in innings 6 thru 8 and last year he started to lose a little bit of velocity on his fastball and he has tried to make his curve to be more effective. Edgin has been on a fast track to the big leagues on the strength of using a hard fastball and effective slider that helped the stout lefty rack up K’s at a 10.53 per 9 IP.  Scott Atchinson may be the find of the off season. He was the one bright spot in the train wreck that was the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Atchinson relies on a solid cutter that he has under great command and last season he stranded 85 % of the runners on base that he inherited which is why I can’t wait to see him pitch this spring. Brandon Lyon could be the guy that takes on Frank Frank for the coveted closers role. The Mets will be banking on getting Lyon back to his effective D’Backs and Tigers days to solidify the back end of the pen and hope that the blown saves and late inning bullpen meltdowns are a thing of the past.

Jureys Familia and Jenry Mejia are two wildcards in the bullpen completion. Should either or both work as relievers or starters? There are varied opinions on the direction of both pitchers and it could boil down to how each are used this spring and if either pitchers shows more at one spot than the other. I could see Familia sticking as reliever more than Mejia who has a starter’s mentality and is also at a point in his career that the Mets love to find pitchers at, second year after Tommy John surgery.

LaTroy Hawkins comes to camp as a guy whose has seen a lot of big league baseball and could be more of an asset as a sounding board for the younger relievers that his work on the mound. Hawkins looks to be a 6th inning guy or a guy to give a break to an overused reliever that is if it makes the team.

It’s Robert Carson’ job to lose as the LOOGY especially with Pedro Feliciano back from rotator cuff surgery (2nd year after surgery seems to be the Mets pattern of obtaining pitching) and Tim Byrdak back in a minor league deal off of last season’s shoulder surgery.

So if I had to put out an early projection of the Mets bullpen I’d rank thusly:

CL Francisco/Lyon

SU Parnell

SU Edgin

SU Atchison

RP Carson

RP Familia/Hawkins

Whoever is not named closer moves to set up role and to tell you the truth; the Mets have the makings of a pretty decent bullpen. Hopefully between Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Ricky Bones can work this pen correctly unlike last season when there was a communication breakdown between the relievers and the Manager and Pitching Coach. That’s a post for another day.

 

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EVERYBODY WAS KUNG FU FIGHTING, THOSE CATS WERE FAST AS LIGHTING

Excellent post by Mathew Cerrone of MetsBlog on how the Mets need Sandy Alderson even though Rick Hahn would be a fantastic hire as well. If the Mets were an expansion team or a team in a small market then Hahn would be the pick, put for the Mets who need to change the way they are perceived by other teams, the media and especially their own fans (a/k/a paying customers) then Sandy Alderson is the clear choice for GM.

On Tuesday’s THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN Radio Show, I spoke with Julian Levine of Splashing Pumpkins about the Giants-Phillies NLCS and how I wanted Bochy to put the Kung Fu Panda back in the lineup. He did and the Panda delivered. The Giants are one game away from the World Series. Part of me is hoping the Highlanders make a miraculous comeback and play the Giants in the World Series. If they do I’d make the trip to the South Bronx to root for the Gigantics while wearing my Johnny Antonelli throw back jersey.    

By the way, I give props to Ol’ Cholly for going with Roy Oswalt in 9th as he was the best pitcher available in the pen at that time. He was only going to use him for an inning any way and it still left Brad Lidge to close out the game. Where I do take some issue with Manuel is they way he used Jose Contreas for just one batter but hey I’m not complaining about the outcome that’s for sure.

The only part of the Rangers that worries me that they could suffer a Highlander collapse is their bullpen which is quite shaky.

I’ll just say I’m really looking forward to tonight’s Game 5 NLCS match up between The Freak and Doc Halliday and that’s all I’ll say. I feel like I jinxed yesterdays Game 5 of the ALCS so I’ll lay low with the wise ass remarks for now.

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COLLAPSE COMES EARLY THIS SEASON

Looks like I’m not missing much Manny was booed, the Mets can’t hit, another error and Fernando Tatis still gets to play everyday while Daniel Murphy sits and sits.

Looks as though the Mets will be sellers instead of buyers and that could be a good thing, as it may be best to sell vets for prospects and then come the off season a major re construction of the player personnel is in order.

Looks like the annual collapse came early this year and in the end that may be a good thing.

I get to leave the camp today so it’s off to Wal-Mart for some supply’s and a cup of Dunkin Dounuts coffee but the best part pf heading to the outside world of upstate NY is getting to see all them Cougars in their muffin tops spilling over their  too tight jeans YAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOO

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SCHOOL IS IN SESSION

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been consumed by all the Rangers news this morning that I haven’t scratched the surface on the news out of St Lonesome but I am starting to think that Warlord Jerry spent the off season studying psychology  books as early in this camp of ’09 it seems it’s all about the mental prep work as much as the physical.

 

Just from the early dispatches, it looks as though J-Man feels since I have the same cast of characters that ended the season save for the two studs at the back end of the pen, there has to be a different way to motivate this group by going after their weak points (in case you haven’t heard, the Mets choked the last two years, just ask Cole Hamels he’ll tell you)

 

With the bullpen fortified with Putz and Rodriguez, the other big reason for the two season collapse has been the lack of situational hitting and not scoring runs late in the game. The Mets biggest scoring inning last year was the first and the lowest was the ninth, so Manuel has put an emphasis on hitting behind the runner and giving oneself up for the team. It’s clear that J-Man felt the team he took over was a selfish bunch and he wants that mind set erased and he came right out a pointed the finger at the guys he felt fit that category.

 

The player Manuel went after first was Jose Reyes, who it seems was more worried about stealing bases just to pad his stats and was the least grown up of the Big Three of Wright-Beltran-Reyes so saying it was time for Jose to take a little more responsibility around the team really meant time to grow up . So to see what Reyes was made of J-Man declares the Reyes could be the #3 hitter and we all waited for the fallout. Well, we’re still waiting as Reyes came in and said all the right things just like a grown up.

 

Manuel then went on to Gimp Castillo but took a different tact, as everyone associated with the team from the fans, front office, ushers, $iti Field construction workers all felt Castillo needed to shipped out. So Manuel went the opposite praising the second baseman for coming into camp 10 lbs lighter and with a better attitude that moved Manuel to say that Castillo looked like his old Marlins self and would be used in the top spot of the order and so far everyday Manuel finds a way to get a positive quote about Castillo into the Mets news of the day. That makes Gimp a happy camper

 

I guess after watching the baseball version of a gym rat in Daniel Murphy, Manuel knew that even with ordaining Murph as the left fielder the kid would still continue to work his ass off and Murphy’ response of I have to keep working like my job is on the line, proved that Manuel made the right read.

 

Now it’s on to Ryan Church who has the carrot out in front of him by J-Man who stated that Murph was a better hitter than Church and of course that pissed off Church big time. Exactly what Manuel wanted to do, Sometime guys get a bit complacent and need a little nudge but instead of a nudge Manuel gave Church a shove.

 

What coaching comes down to his knowing the personalities of your players as fans we get a bit to wrapped up in the in game strategy when in reality when the game starts there is only so much a coach or manager can do as you can’t hit, pitch or field for your guys. I like what Manuel is trying to do here as he is looking to motivate each player individually to get them to come together collectively as a total team. This game plan might just work.

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ME-ET THE ME-TS

Before you jump down J-Man’ throat about moving Jose Reyes down in the order and putting the overpaid, over weight and overdue  in camp, Gimp Castillo into the lineup spot 1, just sit back take a deep breath and look outside the box.

From reading the stories on J-Man’ first address of the spring, it’s clear that unlike Willie Randolph he will not let his team forget the end of the last two seasons. I also like that  Manuel has stated it wasn’t just the bullpen that sucked down the stretch that putting the failure of the ’07 and’08 collapse solely at the feet of the relievers is selfish and easy to pin the failure on. That’s not to say the bullpen didn’t suck last year or the year before of course they did but also the inability of the offense to get key hits and the fact that if the Mets were hockey players there would be a lot of Lady Bing candidates, so Manuel throwing out a grenade like he did yesterday is welcomed as this team needs to have its cage rattled.

The thing to watch here is will be the reaction by Jose Reyes when he bops into camp. If Reyes comes in and says” Whatever Jerry thinks we to do to win I’m all for it” then the message has gotten through. If Reyes comes in and acts like a baby then puts a face on and complains then he validates Manuel’s mindset that the Mets are a selfish bunch and Jose is clueless to what it takes to win. 

This is also a challenge to Castillo who is the most hated Mets player since Bobby Bonila wore ear plugs and acted like a first class dick. Now in Gimp’s defense he has never been as much of a prick as Bobby Bo and the biggest blame on having Gimp around is solely on Omar Minaya from the ridiculous contract he gave him but J-Man is throwing down the gauntlet to Castillo by telling him show what you got old man.  This will be a huge spring for Castillo as Reyes goes off to be a Dominican Dandy, Gimp can show J-Man that not only does he deserve to be the starting 2nd baseman but he can thrive in leadoff spot of the batting order.

It may not be so crazy to look at Reyes in the 3 hole. Maybe as Reyes approaches 26 years of age he can continue with adding power to this offense and driving in runs more than worrying about stealing bases so much.

In the end though I think this is something Manuel is tossing out there as a test to see if Reyes has added some maturity and if Castillo has any pride left in him.     

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An October Run

Since Jerry Manuel took over, the Mets haven’t just been good, but wicked good. As a result, Mets playoff tickets are out there as the team looks to play into October.

After last year’s collapse, the Mets rebounded from the Willie Randolph era with Manuel taking over and revitalizing the players. Carlos Delgado had a MVP-like year and this one of Carlos Beltran’s better years, which is surprising after having his knees scoped this past offseason.

It’s one reason why New York Mets tickets have been as hot as Broadway tickets and Boston Red Sox Tickets.

Now all the Mets have to do is hold serve over the next 14 games and make an October run.

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SPEWING FROM ALL ANGLES

UGHHHHHH! Back to Work This sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But before I hit the pile of work I have here on my desk (I need some real motivation here to get to work) a few observations:

 

The walking wounded are ready to come back as it looks like Gimp Castillo is ready to rejoin the big club in DC tomorrow. That means most likely that Argenis “The Other” Reyes will be sent back to NOLA until September 1 or the next time Gimp falls off his Rascal. Billy Wags will grab a hot dog at Nathan’s and a round of “Shoot The Freak” while rehabbing with the Cyclones in Coney Island, which spells the end most likely for Eddie Kunz on the big league roster. Me personally I’d send back Carlos Muniz who has been a huge disappointment to me as I thought he’d excel as a late inning guy but he just gets a reprieve until John Maine is activated on Wednesday. It looks like Brain Stokes off his start Saturday will stay as the long man in what is a mess of a bullpen. If there is one critsisim of Omar Minaya that is justified it is he has not upgraded the bullpen from last year and that was the main culprit in the Collapse of “07. Ryan Church is down in St. Lonesome and if that doesn’t make his head hurt hopefully he’ll bounce back but I don’t here much optimism coming from the Ivory Tower of Shea.

 

Sad weekend with both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes passing away. Mac was a no hold bared comic who was extremely funny and that’s because he spoke the truth and didn’t give a shit who was offended. Hayes made one of the great records of the 70’s with the theme from the movie SHAFT (“Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks-SHAFT-You’re damn right”)  and later gained fame as Chef on South Park R.I.P. Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes!!!!

 

This whole PSL bullshit has me shaking my head. Today I read a story in the Post about NY Football Giants fans dipping into their retirement accounts and taking out loans to buy the PSL at the new Stadium. I understand that these folks have had the tickets for years and years but when you start raiding your IRA and 401-K for tickets to a sporting even that is just fucked up. Really I love the Mets more than any other team I root for but the Wilpons can kiss my Royal Irish Ass if they jack the price of tickets so high that I have to go into my pension for a loan to watch them. Anyone who does that needs their fucking head examined.

 

I love the site The Gowanus Lounge because it post shit like this that makes laugh until it hurts. I love when the Yuppies who took over Park Slope and gentrified it get riled up when they see unsavory behavior like this. Back in the70’s there would have been a line. for that.

 

Sure now that I’m back from Boston those egg heads a MIT figure out a way to hack into the Charlie Card.

 

I tune into the end of the Nats-Brewers game yesterday when I got home from Shea and Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton got into a discussion that proved they were both retarded.

L Millz was up in the top of the 12th and Carpenter was going on about the shadows on the field and how tough it was to see the ball as a batter. Carpenter then made a statement that made my head snap, “Can you imagine these shadows if the Brewers make the post season and they have to play at 4 PM” HUH? Bob, the post season starts in OCTOBER where sunset in Wisconsin is at 6:30 PM not at 8:05 PM as it is now so  they shadows will be different if any and besides maybe it will be a cloudy day when the Brew Crew play did that ever cross your mind?  Shit, it could even snow for that fact and the roof will be closed. Did I tell you how much I love Gary, Keith and Ron?

 

Mets are on a 1PM today which will be a big help in me getting through the mounds of paper work on my desk.     

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Tickets

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