With all of the talk about the New York Mets' plans in 2010 and beyond, few, if any, have mentioned the bullpen.
As one of the lone bright spots for the team this season, the Mets' bullpen is going to need some attention next year.
Currently, the Mets have two ex-All-Star setup men on their roster in Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz. Although both have options for next season, it's highly unlikely either will be brought back without at least signing a new deal that will pay them less money. Even so, I still don’t see this happening.
In Wagner’s case, he wants the role of closer, which he has held with numerous teams for the better part of the past decade. This is something that the Mets simply cannot offer him due to that position being occupied by the younger Francisco Rodriguez.
As in Wagner’s situation, Putz would also prefer to close; however, he agreed to set up K-Rod upon being traded to New York from Seattle. Putz is also six years younger than Wagner, and in theory has a few more productive years ahead of him.
There is, however, no way even the Mets could justify handing out nearly nine million dollars to a pitcher who posted an ugly 5.22 ERA. I understand Putz was hurt, but at the same time, when it looks as if management may only be able to allot $20 million dollars for salary next year, that amount of money becomes a significant issue.
Taking Wagner and Putz out of the equation, the Mets will have a bullpen consisting of Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green, and Francisco Rodriguez. I neglected to include Bobby Parnell, who could either start or relieve next year.
This all is obviously subject to change, as it's still too early to tell whether or not this tandem will be back in a Mets uniform.
I can imagine a scenario where the Mets choose not to tender a contract to Green, who has been less than stellar this season with a 5.13 ERA and three blown saves.
Assuming the Mets don't retain him for next year, that would leave them with three quality arms for the bullpen. Clearly, that is not enough to warrant a solid bullpen. Whether it be via a trade or a free agent signing, the Mets are going to have to get a reliever that can get lefties out.
For the past two years, the Mets have supposedly been searching for a lefty specialist to take some of the workload off of Pedro Feliciano; however, after some 152 relief appearances over the past two seasons, Feliciano has still yet to receive reliable assistance in the bullpen.
Looking exclusively at the upcoming free agent class, there aren’t too many intriguing names out there. There’s Joe Beimel, but if Omar Minaya didn’t pick him up last offseason (when he had the chance), I don’t see it happening this offseason, especially when he will have even less funds to spend.
As for filling the other impending voids in the pen, the Mets had a young reliever who had the ability to get both righties and lefties out in Darren O’Day, but they put him on waivers to enable Nelson Figueroa to make a spot start back in April. Another great roster move by Mr. Minaya.
Since joining the Rangers, O’Day has been stellar, posting a 1.84 ERA and accumulating 16 holds.
All in all, the Mets will have a lot of voids to fill this coming offseason, however, it's important that they don't neglect the one aspect of the team that led to a very disappointing season in 2008.