In an article on the Mets official website Tuesday, beat writer Anthony DiComo espouses on the new Mets bullpen. DiComo points out the unfortunate similarities between Sandy Alderson’s spending spree this off-season and Omar Minaya’s prior to the 2009 campaign.
At that time Minaya went out and got Francisco Rodriguez, J.J. Putz and Sean Green, of whom DiComo writes “seemed like a hidden gem.” If there was anything hidden it was talent! In any case, we all know how that turned out — not well.
The hope is that it works out better for Alderson. It can’t be any worse than last year when the Mets bullpen ranked 28th in all of baseball with a 4.33 ERA and blowing more than a third of its save opportunities. But did Alderson spend wisely?
There were a lot of relievers available this off-season. He signed closer Frank Francisco (on right of photo) to a reasonable two-year, $12 million deal. Ramon Ramirez came over in the excellent Angel Pagan trade and will make $2.65 million — slightly high but not terrible.
It is the Jon Rauch (above, left, who shared the bullpen with Francisco in Toronto as well) signing that I question. He will get paid $3.5 million in 2012 — a big number for a guy who pitched to a 4.85 ERA in 2011 and had his season end early with knee surgery.
It appears Alderson didn’t time this market correctly and jumped the gun. Ryan Madson ended up with only a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Reds, and Brad Lidge settled for just $1 million from the Nationals. I would much rather have these two much stronger pitchers (despite their Phillies pedigrees) than Francisco and Rauch for the exact same money.
At the time of Alderson’s moves, I questioned spending so much of the limited money the Mets had available on the bullpen and ignoring the rest of the team. Alderson has since said he expects the Mets to get better internally — Johan Santana (hopefully) coming back, strides by Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Lucas Duda, and full, healthy seasons from David Wright, Ike Davis and Jason Bay.
That is a dangerous game to play. What if the strides are not made and the health does not return? Then the Mets are in the same boat as last season, except they’ll have a stronger bullpen to mop-up all of those ugly losses.