The Mets have no answers for their bullpen

Posted: September 30, 2012 in Opinion
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By Steven Inman

A lot can be blamed for the Mets poor 2012 season, little power, no speed, injuries but the biggest culprit this season was definitely the bullpen. The Mets bullpen has a 4.74 earned run average this season; dead last in the major leagues and the Mets shouldn’t expect much from their internal candidates when considering 2013.

The Mets biggest culprit from the Mets bullpen this season had been Frank Francisco. Sandy Alderson signed Francisco as to a two year $12 million contract last winter so unfortunately the Mets still have 6.5 million reasons to keep Francisco on the roster next season. Francisco had 23 saves for the Mets this season but finished his first season in the blue and orange with a 5.53 Earned run average and a whopping 1.61 whip (walks + hits per innings pitched) before having his season end early from elbow soreness. Despite his dissapointing season Frank will enter Sprng Training as the closer because of his $6.5 million dollar 2013 salary.

Injury history has hurt Frank Francisco throughout his career and this year has been no different. Even when Frank struggled this season Terry Collins said with him in the 9th inning, mostly because the Mets didn’t have many other options. Jon Rauch was the set up man for most of the year but also struggled throughout most of the 1st half when the Mets were in the postseason mix.

To me, the main problem was Rauch and Francisco who were the 8th and 9th inning guys in Toronto last year, badly struggled in late inning situations and yet still got 9 million bucks in 2012 from Sandy Alderson. That money was a majority of last year’s budget and it wasn’t spent well. The Blue Jays led the league in blown saves last season with the same duo and this season the Mets lead baseball in worst bullpen era. Not a coincidence.

The Mets will be forced to rely on young relievers like Josh Edgin and Robert Carson next season in late game situations. Those two have good arms and can get lefties out but have very little experience in the Major Leagues. Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are two young pitchers that have uncertain futures. I believe because they both have very violent deliveries and control problems, they have a better chance to succeed in the bullpen. Both have closer stuff but like Edgin and Carson, very little experience. By the way Familia will get his first ever major league start on Monday in Miami.

Terry Collins has had more than his fair share of mound visits to pull relievers this year.

The only experience, quality arm penciled into the Mets bullpen next season is Bobby Parnell who has had a very nice season when he hasn’t been asked to be the closer. That being said he will be eligible for salary arbitration (a pay raise) for the first time this winter so it’s unknown if the Mets will trade him or keep him.

Most quality teams develop their own bullpen. The Yankees had Rivera and Robertson, the Giants got guys like Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla  and Sergio Romo while the Braves might have the best 8th/9th combo in the sport with Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel.

With little money the Mets won’t be able to buy a closer. Their only hope is to be patient and hope an experienced arm is forced to sign a one deal before spring training. Fernando Rodney did just that with the Rays last winter and he has been the best reliever in the American League at just $2 million bucks. Bottom line is while it will be difficult for the Mets to fix their pen it can be done if they don’t panic like they did last winter.


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