Sandy Alderson and the Mets have been doing quite a bit of work over the last week in order to clear enough 40-man roster spots for those players who have won jobs with the Big League club. First Brandon Hicks was optioned, then Elvin Ramirez was sent to the Angels for cash, Pedro Feliciano was asked to start the year in the minors, and yesterday we saw both Reese Havens and Darin Gorski get put on waivers (and clear).
When Perpetual Pedro was told he wouldn’t be making the Big League roster for Monday’s opener, most of us thought (including myself) that Robert Carson would be heading to Flushing and join fellow southpaw, Josh Edgin, in the New York bullpen. Why would Carson head north, even though he put together uneven results in camp (4.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5 Ks, 5 HR allowed in 12.2 IP)? Well, he has more potential than career minor leaguer, Scott Rice, and he can pump that fastball in at an average of 95 mph. However, Scott Rice is no longer a career minor leaguer, as he was informed yesterday he won the competition to be the second southpaw for Terry Collins in the Mets bullpen. After 14 seasons in the minors, Rice will finally be able to see what it feels like to make it to The Show.
This is a great story as camp comes to a close with New York taking on the Baltimore Orioles in a few hours, but it’s also a roster spot well deserved for the southpaw. In just about the same amount of game action as Carson (12.1 IP), he outperformed the young lefty in just about every critical statistic, as he compiled a 2.92 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, didn’t give up a homer, and struck out 11 hitters. Every time I had the chance to watch him perform, he was solid. Alderson said he wanted a veteran lefty in the ‘pen with Edgin, and while this is definitely not the kind of veteran he was looking for, he can at least hold his own until either Feliciano or Tim Byrdak are strong enough to return.
It will be nice for Collins to have more than one southpaw reliever at his disposal this season, as we saw what happened last year when he had to heavily rely on Byrdak day-in and day-out. Hopefully, the rest of the bullpen will be more effective as a whole, which would be a big help. From seeing what this current cast of characters has done while in PSL, it looks like this year’s ‘pen will be the complete opposite of the 2012 version. At least, I think that if I keep saying that, it will just happen.
However, a big congratulations for Rice on this monumental career accomplishment. It’s been a rocky road to say the least for the hurler, who has been working hard to get to this point since 1999. His journey is a testament to his work ethic and determination, as there are plenty of ballplayers who would (and have) given up on their dream after not getting that call after a few years. He had his fair share of successes and struggles, which includes a transition from starter to reliever, and short stints in Indy Ball. When it looked bleak for him to ever achieve his ultimate goal, he never stopped. I’m sure he thought about it plenty of times, but the competitor in his wouldn’t allow him to.
Now, in his 15th season of professional baseball, he will finally knows what it feels like to be a Big Leaguer. Congratulations, Scott. You deserve to have this feeling of accomplishment today. Now, let’s hope you can translate your solid spring into regular season success as well. I mean, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Bryce Harper, and Jason Heyward (amongst others) aren’t just going to get themselves out, unfortunately.