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.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Yes Fred and Jeff Wilpon Mets Fans CAN Handle The Truth!

I was all set to put up a post this morning but we had a bit of a situation at work that required an all hands on deck approach so that settled that for me.

One of the items I wanted to touch on was the anger that is building within the fan base. It seems the frustrations of another meaningless second half, this one coming on the heels of an optimistic first half, and the uncertainty of what the 2013 payroll will be are the main culprits in this uprising. The good news for Mets management is that there still is a pulse, a passion in Mets fans to get their dander up. But how long does the passion last until it turns to apathy?

I have no idea what the Skill Sets financial situation is and I’m sure they are not looking to share those details with me or anyone else not involved in the baseball operations of the Mets. I’m pretty sure there is still tremendous debt both on the ballpark, the team and SNY plus legal fees that have to be paid. So the question is what will be left to procure talent to make the 2013 Mets a contending team?

I’m not optimistic that there will be enough funds to sign a solid power hitting outfielder while releasing a very highly paid and unfortunately useless left fielder in Jason Bay. What will happen with David Wright this offseason, will he and the Mets come to an agreement on a contract extension that will keep him in a Mets uniform for the rest of his career? Again not knowing the financials I think the Skill Sets will find a way to extend Wright 5 yrs at $100 mil but the question is will Wright want to stay here?

I have to give Freddy Skill Sets credit when he was approached by David Lennon of Newsday during an infrequent walk on the field during BP, that he made no comment and kept walking briskly away as the media took off after him for a quote and all they got was a cloud of dust and the reply of “Ask Sandy”.

I guess after the Gucci loafer in mouth quotes Freddy gave to Jeffery Toobin last year in the New Yorker article, he’s learned his lesson to keep your head down and walk fast when discovered by reporters. Even at the All Star Game presser, Freddy was not in attendance and Jeffy gave just a brief speech.

As I’ve said, I have no idea what the financial situation is with the Skill Sets and how it effects the off season game plan but I do know this after the October 3 game against the Fish, the topic of conversation for the next four months will be money and how much the Wilpons have to invest in their team.

The only thing I’ve ever wanted from the Skill Sets is honesty and for some reason they have a tough time with that concept. Just level with your fan/customer base about what the game plan is going forth for 2013 and beyond. That’s all we’re asking, honesty and transparency two very good traits to possess. I’ve said for the longest time if Freddy came out and said “we are still trying to recover monetarily from the Madoff scandal and now that the trial has been settled we are trying to regroup financially both personally and professionally. “ Com’on try it Freddy and Jeffy just be honest with your fans/customers THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREEE !!!!!! and buy you some much needed good will as well.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

THE SANDY ALDERSON/METS BLOGGERS CONFERENCE CALL

I was fortunate to be invited to a conference call last night with Sandy Alderson and my fellow Mets bloggers. This is the second cc Alderson has done with bloggers and he seems genuinely happy to talk to us and values our input about the team. As great as it was talking to the Mets GM, the biggest kick for me was reading all the Tweets from other baseball bloggers who were soooooooooooooo jealous that we were granted access to Alderson and reading how they wish the head of the team they root for would give the same courtesy. Imagine that, the same wise ass’ who like to joke and make sarcastic remarks about the Mets, are envious of Mets bloggers.

I’m slowly getting used to the frank and honest way Alderson does business, whereas in the past, I’ve always felt you had to read between the lines to find the truth out of anything coming out of Flushing , but now it seems we’re getting the straight skinny from the Mets GM.

On the release of Castillo and Perez, Alderson said that to some extent fan sentiment was a factor in releasing both players, more so in Castillo’s case as the front office had hoped that Perez could make some kind of contribution. Alderson felt it was only fair that the new regime look at both players first hand instead of relying on hearsay.  

With Emaus winning the 2nd base job, it’s clear his Rule 5 status helped him in winning the job over Justin Turner who had options. Alderson said that Emaus would only make the team as a starting baseman and not a bench player.  Alderson said he was happy that Emaus has come around with the bat and has shown signs of being effective turning the DP.

My question to Alderson was about the fight for the last spot in the bullpen, but first I added a bit of editorializing:

“Between the offseason and spring, it seems that there’s a minority in the fan base and a majority of the mainstream media that likes to dwell on the negative things that go on with the organization. They seem not to want to talk about that the team offensively has been terrific this spring, it seems that batters have been taking to Dave Hudgens’s way of hitting, a lot of walks, a lot of doubles, and the defense has been pretty good, too, maybe very good this spring, but the big thing is the pitching. The pitching has been outstanding this spring and hopefully it will carry over to the season. Now you spoke about the bullpen, and you do have decisions to make. How close is it in that seventh spot? It seems that we kind of figured the first six guys are in that pen, and that last spot, that seventh spot, seems to be the one that’s up in the air. How are you going back and forth on that decision?”

Here is Alderson’ reply:

“That’s a very good question. If you look at the guys who are competing for the last two or three spots. You’ve got a young kid, a Rule 5 pick who is untested, who has improved, we think, greatly since the beginning of camp, at least mechanically, has shown a lot of command, has shown good velocity, and we think has real upside. As compared to somebody like Jason Isringhausen, who is a veteran presence and not only because of what he can do on the mound but how he might influence the rest of that bullpen, is an attraction for us. Then you’ve got a couple of guys, [Blaine] Boyer, Manny Acosta, who are very, very close in terms of overall results, but they get there in different ways. Boyer is basically a ground ball pitcher. Acosta has the livelier fastball and is more of a strikeout guy, maybe a little more command, but occasionally gives up a three-run homer as he did yesterday. So not only is it a close competition, but interestingly, each of those guys represents a very different choice beyond how they perform, and that’s what we’re trying to balance right now is the desire to win, the feel-good story of somebody like Jason Isringhausen, who has also performed well, against the potential of somebody like Pedro Beato, and then the two guys that we brought in. And we haven’t resolve those yet. We just had a meeting today with some of the front office people here with the coaches and Terry Collins and we resolved a few things but the bullpen is still unresolved.”

The problem is Boyer ,who has had a great spring, has an out clause in his contract to become a free agent if he doesn’t make the OD 25 man roster. In a perfect world I believe Alderson would take Izzy north and hope Boyer doesn’t get a ML contract from another team and he signs him to a minor league deal. The odds of that are slim.

There were great  questions  from all who participated and to read the entire transcript check out the post Eric Simon of Amazin’ Avenue   put together in detail of the conference call.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN TONIGHT AT 9PM ET ON BLOG TALK RADIO

Lots of baseball news breaking today with Cliff Lee returning to Philly-a shocking development to say the least-and putting a huge hole in the Highlanders and Texas Rangers off season plan and of course the Tea Party Mets fans are slobbering over themselves with vitriol over the Mets not spending any money after Sandy Alderson has said over and over again in every interview he’s done that the Mets will not sign a big ticket free agent this offseason. Speaking of Sandy Alderson, I had the pleasure to meet his acquaintance today at Citi Field, as myself and other Mets bloggers were invited to the Mets holiday party at Citi Field and we were given time for Q and A with Alderson, Terry Collins (quite the intense fellow) Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and David Wright.

Tomorrow here at Kranepool Society, I will have a more in depth post of my day at Citi Field, but tonight at 10PM ET on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN on BLOG TALK RADIO, I will talk about my meeting with Alderson, Collins and the palyers as my guests will be MatthewCerrone of Metsblog and Alex Belth of Bronx Banter. Alex is also the author of the book “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories: Unforgettable Tales From The House That Ruth Built”

It should be a great hour of baseball talk. If you can’t join us live the be sure to download the podcast at the show page or listen right here at Kranepool Society (lower right side bar) or download the show oniTunes

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

Visit BangTheBook.Com for daily free MLB Mets Picks and gameday previews, also join the baseball handicapping discussion in the forum or track your plays in our sports monitor.