The 2008 season was a lost season for the New York Mets, very much like the 2007 season. Throughout the season the New York fans and media alike placed the blame on the team’s bullpen.
This was certainly justified, I mean after all, the bullpen did blow 29 saves. In fact, had the Mets bullpen been able to notch those crucial saves, the team would have easily won the NL East.
However, in the end they just weren’t able to do so. There is no sense in dwelling on the past, all that is left is to look to reconstruct for the future, which is exactly what Mets GM, Omar Minaya, did.
This season Omar Minaya made a splash and added two of the top closers in baseball to anchor the bullpen in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.
Next, Minaya followed suit by following the process of addition by subtraction when he shipped reliever Scott Schoeneweis to the Diamondbacks.
To sum things up in relation to the bullpen, Minaya shipped out Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis and Joe Smith, while importing K-Rod and J.J. Putz, and Sean Green.
In this article we will look at the potential roles for each relief pitcher, as well as an in depth analysis of just how successful they project to be this coming year.
The most valuable piece of the bullpen figures to be Francisco Rodriguez, otherwise known as K-Rod. Rodriguez made a name for himself with the Los Angeles Angels last year, after shattering the single-season saves record with 62 saves.
Now, while those numbers are certainly impressive, keep in mind that K-Rod also blew seven saves last season, which is tied for his career high. Still, it is on par with the numbers Billy Wagner put up in his past three years as Mets closer.
As I have stated before, I don’t feel that K-Rod is much of an upgrade, performance wise, over a healthy Wagner. Overall, though, Mets fans will be happy with what they get out of K-Rod, and won’t have to close their eyes in the ninth inning of every game.
Next, the newly acquired J.J. Putz figures to pitch the eighth inning and set up for K-Rod. Putz gives the Mets something that even their phenomenal 2006 bullpen didn’t have, and that is a second experienced closer, who if needed could fulfill the closer’s duties.
Another new face, Sean Green, expects to pitch out of the bullpen, most likely in the form of middle relief is described by scouts as being a “ground ball machine.”
Green is an interesting addition to the new bullpen. While he has shown he is capable of being a successful reliever, there have been times to make fans think otherwise.
Prior to the All-Star break Green’s ERA was superb (2.72). Yet following the break, it ballooned to almost 9.
It seems that Green, like teammate Oliver Perez, has the talent, however is plagued by consistency issues.
Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez and Brian Stokes will return to the roles they had last year. Look for Feliciano to post better numbers this season, especially if he is not overworked.
Sanchez, if healthy, could really give the team a strikeout machine who can get both righties and lefties out.
I’m not too sure what to make of Stokes. While Stokes was certainly impressive in his short stint with the Mets last year (3.51 ERA in 33.1 IP), there is reason for concern given his 2007 ERA, which was over 7.
It is possible, depending on the starting pitching situation, that Tim Redding could take over Brian Stokes’s job as the long reliever, especially if Freddy Garcia takes over the last spot in the rotation.
All in all, the Mets do have a much better bullpen than they have had the past two seasons. Is this bullpen better than the best bullpen in baseball from 2006? As of now no due to the fact that there are just too many question marks.
Is this bullpen the best in the division? Absolutely. Putz and K-Rod alone give them an edge over any other NL East team’s late-inning pitchers.