I’m not putting the entire season under indictment just because of Monday’s crushing outcome on Opening Day. I should know better than to lash out. After all, I’ve been through forty of these.
But I’m upset nonetheless. In fact, Monday’s Opening Day loss brought my blood to a mid-season boil. It was just one game – the first game, the first extra inning game, but also the first no-decision, the first blown save, and first loss.
If little girls are made of sugar and spice, and everything nice, then the Mets bullpen must surely be made of hand grenades, mortars, and mines. Six of the Mets seven relievers on the active roster joined in concert to allow 5 hits, 4 walks, 5 earned runs, and 2 blown saves, in 3.1 innings of work.
Yet, I hold none of them responsible. More glaring to me, the first game of 2014 was merely an obvious reminder of the facts. In three previous seasons, Sandy Alderson has continually assembled an inferior bullpen.
Frank Francisco still registers as Alderson’s priciest and most daring free agent bullpen acquisition. Alderson’s best efforts to bolster the bullpen through trade came in the forms of Ramon Ramirez from the Giants, and acquiring Vic Black last year.
All the relievers who’ve ever failed for the Mets over the last three seasons are too numerous, and quite frankly, too inconsequential to list. A shorter list of the more well known late inning tormentors includes Taylor Buchholz, Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista, Pedro Beato, D.J. Carrasco, Jon Rauch, Ryota Igarashi, Scott Atchison, Brandon Lyon, Aaron Laffey, etc., etc.
These were all cast-offs, ranks of the unemployed, or otherwise, who Sandy Alderson hand selected to supplement the pitchers he inherited from within the system, such as Bobby Parnell.
My personal survey of one says – what a miserable job.
That however, is not the root of my present frustration. When the run on relief pitchers took place this past December, Sandy Alderson stood idly by while a wide selection of quality options dwindled down throughout the month to a remaining scattered and questionable few.
The average money being spent on relievers was in the neighborhood of $4 to $6 million per season. Many of the free agent relievers signed short term deals. Despite having already signed a pair of outfielders and a starting pitcher to handsome sums, the market was still ideal, even for the Mets to acquire a reliever, especially considering Bobby Parnell hadn’t really been physically taxed since his surgery yet. Another $5 million dollar investment would not have put the organization in jeopardy of folding. In truth, it would only have been $5 million more than they spent last year.
Sandy Alderson waited till early February to address the bullpen. That may have been a terrible miscalculation on his part, or, more nefariously, a cunning calculation on his part – meaning budgetary restrictions still dictate the decision process. Signing Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde gave the appearance of a good faith effort. But if we believe in smoke screens, I’m more inclined to believe they were available because throughout the winter, no one else wanted them, like so many other pitchers Alderson has claimed off the scrap heap.
Of the six relief pitchers who participated in Monday’s game, it was the late winter off-campus acquisition, Jose Valverde, who pitched best. Now ponder today’s disappointment in terms of a decision made back in December, which was the prime time to address this situation.
This isn’t a knee jerk reaction, or looking back in hindsight. This was a point of contention for me then, and remained so, leading into Monday afternoon’s game.