The New York Mets are a tough team to predict this season. They don't have a roster that's full of big names like their crosstown rivals. But they also have a $90 million payroll for 2013 and have shown that some of the lesser-known players on the team can actually contribute. This team may not be a contender in 2013, but they also may not be the pretender that many are anticipating.
The one area of concern heading into the season is the bullpen, specifically the back end. Right-hander Frank Francisco was slated to be the team's closer, at least to start the season. Francisco had a rough 2012, the first season of a two-year deal with the Mets. He recorded 23 saves, but had an ugly 5.53 ERA and a 1.606 WHIP. He allowed 10 H/9 and had a 4.5 BB/9 ratio.
To compound matters, Francisco is recuperating from offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He is hoping to take the mound in Grapefruit League action soon, but his readiness for Opening Day is in serious doubt.
Bobby Parnell, the Mets' hard-throwing righty, will be tabbed to serve as Francisco's substitute if he is not ready to go. Parnell has a total of 14 saves over five seasons, but has frequently been referred to as a possible "closer of the future" for the Mets.
The Mets spent this offseason retooling the bullpen on the support of low-risk major and minor league deals. The following are some possible fill-ins as closer in case Francisco and Parnell are not able to handle the task. Mets fans better hope that the team can find a sure-thing closer prior to the 2014 season.