Apr. 24, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Terry Collins (right) congratulates relief pitcher Frank Francisco (48) after the game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mets won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Mets Spent Money On Bolstering Bullpen, But Has It Improved From 2011?

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After losing All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes to the division rival Marlins, the Mets’ front office focused all their attention on significantly improving a key area that desperately needed to be addressed: Revamping the bullpen. 2011 will forever be a year Mets’ relievers would like to forget. In a season where the organization traded away their closer — Francisco Rodriguez — during the All-Star break, the bullpen finished the season ranked 28th in team ERA (4.33.) During the Winter Meetings — over a span of 48 hours — a solution to that problem was found, or at least that’s what the organization believed.

First, New York and San Francisco agreed in principle to a trade that involved swapping centerfielders who were both coming off a subpar year.  However, in exchange for Angel Pagan, New York also received reliever Ramon Ramirez, who had been a reliable, live-arm during his tenure as a San Francisco Giant.  Shortly after agreeing to the trade, New York tab into the free agent market and picked up two relievers who were believed to take over arguably the two most vital roles in the bullpen — set-up and closer role — for the 2012 Mets. However, with one-third of the season already completed, the bullpen still remains to be a major concern, despite allocating most of the offseason financial resources to shore up the bullpen.

Breakdown of contractual obligation & 2012 stats for the offseason free-agent additions

  • Frank Francisco: 2 year, $15 million– 15 saves in 18 opportunities, 5.55 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 28 hits allowed in 24.1 innings pitched
  • Jon Rauch: 1 year, $3.5 million – One save in four opportunities, 4.76 ERA, 25 hits allowed in 22.1 innings pitched.

As a collective bullpen, New York is currently ranked last in both ERA (5.38) and WHIP (1.53.) Despite these problems, New York is only 1.5 games behind the division leading Washington Nationals. Needless to say, New York hasn’t gotten the type of production they had initially hoped for when signing these two players. In my opinion, it is very hard to predict the productivity of relievers being that their production is drastically erratic compared to position players. The one — and only — area I would invest a significant amount of money in would be the closer role. And even so, it is important to me to sign a closer with a proven track record of having the determination and mindset to close out games under pressure situations. Outside of the closer role, I wouldn’t shell out big bucks for relievers. Instead, I would look for low risk, high-reward pitchers and stock up on arms. This is where scouting department earns their money because you would be looking for relievers who are coming off a down year in order to minimize the cost of signing those players. Take the 2006 bullpen for example. Outside of the closer — Billy Wagner — guys like Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver were pitchers who were thought to be at the end of their careers. As a result, they were brought in on relatively cheap contacts, and to the surprise of many they played a vital role in what was the number one ranking National League bullpen with a 3.28 ERA.

If New York wishes to stay in contention throughout the season, two areas need to be improved: Bullpen and overall defense. With a tough schedule ahead, it’s important New York plays sound fundamental baseball. If this is accomplished, New York can most certainly be in the conversation of a pennant race, in a division that this clearly up for grabs.


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Tags: Angel Pagan Billy Wagner Bullpen Chad Bradford Darren Oliver Francisco Rodriguez Frank Francisco Front Office Jon Rauch Jose Reyes Kevin Baez Miami Marlins Ramon Ramirez Rising Apple San Francisco Giants Washington Nationals

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