Well, this thing is a mess. Not nearly as much of one as the next team I’ll preview, though.
Francisco Rodriguez – RH (Closer)
Pedro Feliciano – LH (Set-up)
Brian Stokes – RH (Set-up)
Sean Green – RH (Mid-relief)
Tim Redding – RH (Long-relief)
Nelson Figueroa – RH (Long-relief)
Elmer Dessens – RH (Mid-relief)
Manager: Jerry Manuel
Pitching Coach: Dan Warthen
Bullpen Coach: Randy Niemann
In order to attempt to correct the scapegoat of the Mets’ 2008 season, the bullpen, Omar Minaya signed Francisco Rodriguez to a 3-year, $36 million deal and traded a great deal of the farm for J.J. Putz. Putz–an incredibly injury-prone reliever–pitched 29 and 1/3 innings of 5+ ERA before going down with season-ending surgery. So basically, the Mets are now where they were in 2008 minus Billy Wagner plus Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been about as good as I expected him to be. Other people expected him to be amazing. I certainly didn’t. He’s pitched 54 innings with a 3.33 ERA, 53 K’s, 30 walks, a 1.30 WHIP, and has converted 26 of 31 saves. He’s tailed off recently, posting a 13.50 ERA in his last 6 appearances. Batters have touched him up for a 1.085 OPS in that span. Keep in mind he plays in probably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball. If I’m a Mets fan, I’m worried. If I’m the Mets FO, I’m probably looking at shutting him down soon. This season is meaningless and it looks like he may be developing an injury.
Pedro Feliciano was the sort of default closer last year after Wagner went down with Tommy John surgery. The Mets learned that they never want Pedro Feliciano to regularly pitch the 9th again. He started the 2008 season as a lefty specialist but his role was elevated throughout the season due to injuries and incompetence by his fellow relievers–eventually becoming the closer. He got his first save opportunity on August 12th–having already amassed 62 appearances with a 3.77 ERA. He proceeded to fade down the stretch retiring only 31 of the 49 batters he faced and posted a 5.23 ERA. People understandably attribute his struggles to his new role, though I wonder if something else is at play here. He led the league in appearances last year and I wonder if he was tired. He’s been good this year, posting a 2.87 ERA with a 42-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 47 innings. He currently leads the league in appearances, so I’m very interested to see if he fades down the stretch like he did last year. To this point, the usage pattern has been remarkably similar and this is about the point during last season that he started fading.
The bullpen is incredibly uninteresting after the first two members now that Parnell is in the rotation.
Brian Stokes is 29 years old and has totaled 170 and 1/3 MLB innings. When I see that, I just assume they aren’t good or they’re Cuban or Japanese. Stokes isn’t Cuban or Japanese, but he’s been fairly good this season, posting a 3.02 ERA in 50 and 2/3 innings. The rather pedestrian 32-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests he’s rather lucky and his actual ability is a lot closer to his pre-2009 career ERA of 5.66. The delusion of Citi Field: a bad pitcher can post good numbers.
Sean Green, not much unlike Brian Stokes, is 30 years old and has totaled 203 and 2/3 MLB innings. Unlike Brian Stokes, he’s put up a horrible ERA this season–5.05 in 51 and 2/3 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 42-to-20, so he’s sort of the anti-Stokes. Decent K/BB, crappy ERA. He’s a low-leverage type.
Tim Redding was awful as a starter, posting a 6.99 ERA in 9 starts, but has posted a 4.05 ERA in 11 appearances post-demotion to the bullpen. His 12-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests that despite his decent ERA, he is in fact in the correct role–mop up man.
Nelson Figueroa. I really don’t know why the Mets keep him around. You might as well let one of your kids, someone who will learn something and actually improve and figures to be part of your organization in the future, take his innings. He’s got a 5.93 ERA in 13 and 2/3 innings. Wasn’t any better last year. Meaningless innings pitcher.
When you have a 7-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio and that doesn’t figure to improve all that much, you’re not a MLB pitcher. Elmer Dessens is another one of the scrap heap types who the Mets should simply release. It isn’t like he’s giving them quality innings.
Who knows? Francisco Rodriguez pitches the 9th. Feliciano the 8th. The rest of the relievers are pretty bad and the Mets just use them in set-up roles when they have nobody else to go to. Because there isn’t much quality in this bullpen. It started with K-Rod, Feliciano, Parnell, and Putz as a fairly potent back-end of the bullpen, but with Putz predictably out for the year and Parnell accommodating one of the rotation vacancies, there’s just a shell of a back-end of a bullpen there. And when your front-end guys assume back-end roles and AAAA organizational filler pieces assume front-end roles, your bullpen starts to suck pretty fast.
Billy Wagner – 60 day DL. Tommy John.
J.J. Putz – 60 day DL. Bone spur surgery.