As the Mets have inched toward finalizing their Opening Day bullpen, much of the talk has been the same. We’ve heard that K-Rod, Bobby Parnell, Taylor Buchholz, Tim Byrdak and D.J. Carrasco were the definites; that Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato was the probable; that Jason Isringhausen and Blaine Boyer were up in the air; and that Manny Acosta and Pat Misch were on the outside looking in. Only on occasion was Acosta’s name spoken in the same breath as Izzy’s and Boyer’s — and even then, it was usually as an afterthought.
On Tuesday, the talk proved to be true as the Mets all but finalized the pitching portion of their 25-man roster. Beato and Boyer made the team, Izzy will be asked Wednesday morning stay in Port St. Lucie for extended spring training, and Misch passed through waivers. Meanwhile, Acosta — whom the Mets claimed off waivers from the Braves exactly a year ago — was designated for assignment. In the coming days, he’ll either be placed on waivers, traded, or released.
To be honest, I’m a bit confused. Yes, Boyer’s chances increased due to the opt-out in his contract, but Acosta is out of options. I have come to trust the new front office, and it’s very possible that Boyer will turn out to be the right choice. Personally, I would have chosen Acosta. However, my main gripe is that the Mets did not seemed to give Acosta the respect he deserved. He deserved to enter camp with a leg up on Boyer, and, in my mind, he didn’t get a fair shot.
Here are the 29-year-old Acosta’s 2010 numbers: 39.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.33 K/BB, .219/.308/.328 against.
Here are the 29-year-old Boyer’s 2010 numbers: 57.0 IP, 4.26 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 1.00 K/BB, .273/.359/.375 against.
In Acosta’s four-year big league career with the Braves and Mets, he has posted a 3.40 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 1.65 K/BB, and a .243 BAA. Meanwhile, in Boyer’s six-year career, most of which has been spent with the Braves and Diamondbacks, he has stumbled his way to a 4.63 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 1.73 K/BB and a .268 BAA. Although he leads Acosta in K/BB, walks are a concern with Boyer after he struck out and walked 29 batters apiece last year. Acosta fanned 42 hitters in 17.1 fewer innings.
Certainly, Spring Training performance is a factor as well, and in this regard Boyer has outshined Acosta — but not by much. Boyer has allowed one earned run in 11.0 innings, posting a 0.73 WHIP while walking three, while Acosta has allowed two earned runs in 10.2 frames and has a 1.03 WHIP. In March, the difference is insignificant. Both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson recognize this, and each has said that a player’s larger body of work is more important than what he does in Spring Training.
To add to the peculiarity of the situation, Collins said this on Tuesday:
“I’m a big ground ball guy. [Boyer's] numbers state that he doesn’t really give up big innings, and he makes them hit the ball on the ground. We’re going to need that.”
What the Mets need even more than ground balls are outs. Collins is right that Boyer, with his low-90s sinker, is a groundball pitcher, and in 2010 his groundball/fly ball ratio was 1.83. But the Mets play in one of the most spacious parks in the league, and if Beltran and Bay stay healthy (granted, it’s a big if) they will have a solid defensive outfield. Acosta’s groundball/fly ball ratio last year was 0.75, and he only gave up four home runs, numbers that bode well for a pitcher at Citi Field.
Maybe I’m missing something — I wasn’t in Port St. Lucie watching side sessions. However, I did watch the Spring Training games, and while Boyer looked great, I saw no indication that Acosta had lost anything on any of his pitches since last year. Still, he will not be on the Mets’ Opening Day roster, and pretty soon his one-year tenure with the team could end. Hopefully, the Mets won’t regret their decision.