The Second Lefty Fallacy

Todd YCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2010

NEW YORK - AUGUST 01:  Pedro Feliciano #25 of the New York Mets pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 1, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Ed Ryan writes "The Mets really need a second lefty out of the bullpen".

Matthew Cerrone added "i couldn’t agree more, ed . . . having a bevy of options like that makes it easier to maneuver late in games against dynamic lineups, such as the Phillies, and even though the Mets bullpen was undoubtedly improved last year from 2008, it still lacked a lot of good, situational relievers."


Sorry, Ed and Matt, but I completely disagree.  The problem with the Mets' pen the last few years is not that they haven't had enough situational relievers, its that they have had too many.

Consider that in 2007 and 2008, the Mets did have a second lefty in the pen to go along with Pedro Feliciano, and he was one of the better situational lefties in the game.  Scott Schoenweis over his career has held lefties to a .606 OPS, which means he turns every lefty batter into Alex Cora.  The problem with Schoenweis is that his success is limited to lefties.  His career OPS against righties is .836 (equivalent to David Wright).

The problem that doomed Schoenweis and made him a candidate for most hated Met player is that he wasn't used effectively.  In both seasons as a Met, Schoenweis had more at bats against righties than against lefties.  Compare that to Feliciano's effective 2009 season in which he faced lefties almost twice as often as righties. 

So we should blame Jerry and Willie, right?

Not so fast.

The Met pen has been stocked in recent years with situational guys like Schoenweiss. Who can forget the stretch run in 2008 when Jerry Manuel was forced to use 5-6 relievers a night because he had no one who could go get out hitters of the opposite side? 

When it comes to the middle innings, when a second lefty would inevitably be pitching, the manager needs guys that can pitch an inning or two by himself.  You cannot begin using two guys an inning beginning in the fifth - no team has THAT many relievers.  So what ends up happening is you have guys like Schoenweiss pitching full innings and getting lit up by righties they have no business facing in the first place.

In my opinion, wasting a bullpen spot on a second situational lefty just to have one in the rare case he is needed is a luxury most pens cannot afford.  I'd much rather use someone like Bobby Parnell, who has proven in his short time in the majors that he is equally effective against batters from both sides of the plate.

I would think that Met fans have learned that lesson already.  Does no one remember Raul Ibanez's blast against the immortal Ken Takahashi? Parnell was lifted for Takahashi.  Do we really want that kind of practice to be more common?