After the latest Mets bullpen meltdowns, breathless columnists and angry fans are back to whining about the poor crop of Mets relievers. They all need to just stop already, or at least be consistent.
Remember the first series of the season against the Nationals, after which every reliever had an ERA of about 50.00, except for Jose Valverde who was hailed as a savior? Everybody was up in arms. Well, after that the pitchers settled down and performed well and the complaining stopped.
Valverde then started pitching poorly and the whiners were back out in force. Kyle Farnsworth was installed as the closer and everybody fell in love. But now he has been faltering and people are crying for a new closer.
This is the way it is going to be all season long, folks. And not just for the Mets, but pretty much for every team. Most relievers are substandard pitchers by definition — not good enough to be starters, not good enough to be closers or eighth inning guys.
Most of these pitchers would not even be in the majors a couple of decades ago. Think about it; when there were 24 teams with five relievers each, there were 120 players in big league bullpens. Now there are 30 teams, each with seven relievers, for a total of 210. Of course the quality will be lacking.
Back to the Mets. The complaint is that Sandy Alderson did not bring in more relievers this spring, and especially that he did not provide an option at closer if Bobby Parnell went down. I am no defender of Alderson, but I agreed that the Mets had enough decent arms in the bullpen that Alderson should focus his energies and limited budget on the rest of the team.
I do question not re-signing LaTroy Hawkins, though. I understood it at the time — why give $2.5 million to a 41-year-old pitcher? But after the Mets signed 40-year-old Bartolo Colon and reportedly offered Grant Balfour $12 million for two years, not signing Hawkins just seems plain dumb. He was excellent as the closer in 2013 after Parnell was shut down, a role he would have stepped into this season at a fair price.
Perhaps Alderson thought Hawkins could not repeat his performance, a reasonable possibility at his age. However, Hawkins has nine saves with the Rockies thus far this season.
In any case, I would just suggest not wasting time complaining about the Mets bullpen. It will get better, then worse, then better, then worse…