What seemed like a fairytale to both Jason Isringhausen and nostalgic Mets fans came true earlier this Spring when the Mets inked “Izzy” to a minor league deal and was given an invitation to compete in Spring Training. However, while most folks assumed the former “Generation K” pitcher would fizzle during the pre-season Florida heat, and honorably hang up his cleats, rightfully, as a New York Met, the right-handed pitcher has instead done the unthinkable–he’s actually pitched pretty well.
Five Spring Training innings are hardly enough to make an informed, and important decision on, but Isringhausen has posted a noticeable 1.80 ERA (1 ER), 0.80 WHIP (2 BB, 2 H), and 1 K. In most bullpen situations, Izzy would be a no-brainer to make the 25-man roster after such a performance, but the Mets don’t seem to have room for the veteran reliever. In fact, even if they carry seven relievers, Isringhausen still doesn’t appear to have a chance.
With Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, and Taylor Buchholtz all definite locks for the bullpen, and either Tim Byrdak, Oliver Perez, or Taylor Tankersley to be the situational left-hander, it only leaves the Mets with two more “open” spots. Essentially, the Mets brass will have to pick two of Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Pat Misch, or Jason Isringhausen before taking the field in April–a decision that’s a pretty difficult one.
Each reliever candidate has a legitimate reason to make the team, but to completely misquote Highlander, “There can only be two.” Misch appears to be the first casualty simply because he still has minor league options–though I’m sure the Mets would miss his flexibility as a starter, and as a second lefty in the ‘pen. One could also make a case for putting Acosta on waivers with the hope of then optioning him to Triple-A, but it seems unlikely he’d pass through given the 2.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 IP, and 4.1 BB/9 IP in 39.6 IP he posted last season for the Mets. Lastly, cutting the Rule 5 draftee Beato would mean handing him back to the Baltimore Orioles (or working out a trade with them), and all but likely losing a 23 year-old with a power arm, plus sinker, and arguably, very bright future.
Overall, the Isringhausen experiment has been a warm, fuzzy feeling for many Mets fans, but picking him over Acosta and especially Beato would merely be playing favorites, and more importantly, a big mistake for the New York Mets in 2011 and beyond.