Today’s season in review focuses on New York City’s other 40-year-old reliever. LaTroy Hawkins’s path to the Mets is the very definition of both long and winding: he’s now on his 10th franchise over his 19-year career after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1991. After failing as a starter in the late ‘90s, Hawkins turned his career around as a reliever, amassing 101 saves and 308 games finished in 844 appearances since 2000.
Sandy Alderson picked up Hawkins on the cheap end of the free agent market, but LaTroy more than earned the $1 million he was given this year, providing consistency to a flailing bullpen and stepping into the closer’s role when Bobby Parnell went down at the end of July.
How he did on the mound:
Hawkins finished the year with a 3-2 record, 2.93 ERA, 1.146 WHIP, 13 saves, and 55 strikeouts in 70.2 innings over 72 appearances. He served as a stabilizing force of sorts for the Mets, who went 40-32 in games he took the mound.
Hawkins struggled over the first two months of the year, posting a 4.44 ERA on June 2, but was lights out from June 8 on, allowing just 11 earned runs (five of which came in a third of an inning against the Tigers on August 25) over his final 48 appearances, good for a 2.14 ERA (take out the Tiger runs and he’s at 1.17 over that span).
Areas to improve upon:
Any way we can find this guy some sort of reverse-aging pill, Benjamin Button style? Hawkins turns 41 on December 21 – not exactly Mr. Fountain of Youth. However, age hasn’t gotten in the way of all relief pitchers (see Mr. Sandman or the Mets’ own Jerry Koosman). It may be expected for Hawkins’s arm to wear out with age, but it’s not close to happening yet.
Projected Role for 2014:
The Mets are already interested in bringing LaTroy back for the 2014 campaign, as they should be. The bullpen became less of a concern as it had been in years past, and that’s in part thanks to Hawkins. He can serve as a leader in a group that, if the Mets do start to contend next season, needs to perform at its peak as often as possible.
Contract Status and Rumors:
Hawkins has been working on a string of one-year contracts since the end of the 2006 season, and 2014 will likely be no exception. He earned $1 million in 2013, and this is probably the price he’ll fetch next year.
The Mets have already thrown their hat in for Hawkins, and it’s all but certain that he’ll be pitching somewhere in the major leagues in 2014, if not right back in Citi Field. At the very least, teams should be interested in hiring him as protection against roaming bands of vandals. Yes, you read that correctly.