No Mets Bullpen Overhaul Needed in Off-Season
Sandy Alderson has spent the bulk of the past three off-seasons overhauling the Mets bullpen because each of his successive rebuilding projects had failed. Well, the third time was a charm — Alderson will be able to concentrate on more pressing needs this winter because his latest bullpen renovation has succeeded.
The 2014 bullpen should not need many — if any — imports because the Mets have a pretty good in-house crew ready to go:
— Bobby Parnell should be recovered from his recent surgery to reclaim his job as the closer.
— Josh Edgin should also be recovered from his surgery. He was pitching very well since his recall from the minors and should be guaranteed a spot. Then again, he made the team out of Spring Training this season, only to flop and have to be sent down.
— Scott Rice earned a spot in the 2014 Mets bullpen.
— Carlos Torres will likely be the long man/spot starter.
— You can make an argument that LaTroy Hawkins was the team’s MVP this season. At 40 years old, he stepped in when Parnell went down. He said he wants to pitch next season, and there’s no reason to think the Mets wouldn’t want him back.
— Scott Atchison has been all right; no reason not to bring him back.
— While he will have to earn the job, Vic Black is showing a lot of potential to be part of the bullpen next season, probably competing with the likes of Gonzalez Germen.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that not every move Alderson has made in the Mets bullpen this season has succeeded. Also, it’s fun to criticize. Remember Brandon Lyon? Greg Burke is just awful. David Aardsma got off to a good start but has disappointed since. And let’s not forget Frank Francisco, owner of the largest free agent contract Alderson has given out in his tenure in Flushing.
But overall I have to give Alderson credit (which is hard for me!) for this year’s Mets bullpen. It’s nice that he finally got things right, so now he can rebuild the outfield. Let’s hope it doesn’t take three tries.
4 thoughts on “No Mets Bullpen Overhaul Needed in Off-Season”
Your qualitative analysis sounds fine and good, except you are assuming that players will return 100% from injuries and be ready to go without any hitches. The reality is that we can’t presume that Parnell will be 100% ready to go, or that Hawkins’ season wasn’t a flash in the pan, or Edgin will do any better after surgery than he did before.
Also, it falls on its face when you look at the numbers:
Despite Parnell’s 2.16 ERA and , this bullpen has produced far below average.The Mets bullpen is 25th in the league in ERA this season. Notably, it’s dead last in strikeouts/9 innings, 26th in the league in opposing OPS, and 28th in BAA.
You can’t pin this poor production purely on overuse, because the Mets bullpen has been used only 12 IP (3%) more than league average this season.
I think the real story is that our bullpen is as much as hole as our outfield production, and will probably require that we spend more free agent dollars on it than anyone is talking about.
Let’s just hope that if money is spent that Alderson skips over the usual parade of Choates and Qualls and Camps and comes up with someone who will get the job done. I’d like to see Grant Balfour in orange and blue, myself.
Interesting stuff. Good points about the injured pitchers and Hawkins.
I wonder if you took away the stats from the likes of Aardsma, Burke, et al. how the bullpen would stack up against the rest of the league.
I guess my main point is that for the first time in Alderson’s tenure, the Mets have at least seven reasonably competent relievers in house, so he can turn his attention to other areas of need instead of concentrating on the bullpen.
I agree with you that a few players definitely pass the eyeball test and there’s room for hope. If you choose to exclude all the negative information from our bad performers, you’ll be left with better numbers. Of course, then to be fair you would have to exclude all the poor performers on other teams. I don’t have the time to run those #s, though.
This season, a league average reliever had a 3.61 ERA. The only Mets relievers above average in that category with >10 IP were Parnell, Hawkins, and Torres.
That gives us three above average relievers, one of whom (Torres) is in his first year of success – much of which is attributable to unsustainable BABIP and LOB percentages; one of whom (Hawkins) is over 40; and one of whom (Parnell) will be coming off neck surgery. Everyone else was below average.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that we really could use another 1-2 above average relievers with track records of success.
Torres is interesting, since his ERA as a reliever was 1.56, which looks dominant. Diving in, though, it looks like he had an outlier year as far as BABIP (.225 as a reliever vs. a .299 career number), and his FIP is a full two runs above his ERA at 3.68. This strongly suggests that Torres’ numbers benefited from good defense. So, he wasn’t dominant, but performed as a league average reliever. I agree you’re right that he was earned a spot on the 2014 bullpen.
Hawkins’ numbers actually look much more legitimate. His FIP matches his ERA (3.16 vs. 3.15) and his improved performance looks to be tied to improvement in his fastball since last year (more strikes, fewer balls, more swinging strikes). I’d also agree with you that he’s earned his slot, but we shouldn’t be surprised if he starts acting his age.
For Parnell, his numbers look legit. The interesting thing I noticed was that for all the talk of Isringhausen and the Knuckle Curve, Parnell’s improvement looks to be tied to improvements in his fastball – particularly his 2-seam, which had a .444 OPS against. His knuckle curve was actually his worst (or “least good”) offering, with a .643 OPS against. I hope he’s able to come back from his injury.