Last season, the Mets were fifth in the NL in reliever's ERA (3.59), mainly thanks to resurgent performances from Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, and Elmer Dessens and the reliable Pedro Feliciano.
The Mets lost two big bullpen pieces to free agency, Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi, but have some big talents in Spring Training.
The Mets' Rule-5 pick, Pedro Beato, is impressing a lot of people with an explosive arm and excellent movement. A self-described "power pitcher," Beato will need to be kept on the 25-man roster for the whole season or be returned to . It's early, but Beato has a great chance to make this team.
Also in camp, Manny Alvarez is trying to apply his great minor league stats to the big league club. In three minor league stops last season, Alvarez went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA. He struck out 84 batters in 78.2 IP, while walking only 12. His 2010 performance was by far the best of his minor league career, so we'll see if he can duplicate it against better competition, but if he can, the Mets will have another great power pitcher.
Replacing a guy like Feliciano, who led the Majors with 92 appearances last season, isn't easy, but it's not overly difficult either. The Mets will have Tim Byrdak, Taylor Tankersley and Oliver Perez competing to fill the role, and all three are most than capable of keeping left-handed batters in check, which is very important in the NL East. The Mets CANNOT let Perez make this team, but even they have to admit he does have his uses.
The situation surrounding closer Francisco Rodriguez could be an issue though. If he finishes (not saves), 55 games, his $17.5 million option will vest. It's been rumored the Mets will try to prevent this from happening, but MLB union chief, Michael Weiner, has met with Mets ownership and was assured that the team will not try any funny business.
The Mets will find themselves in more hot water if they try to hold K-Rod back for the sake of saving some money. The Mets need to give their fans a competitive team, and if they ignore the financial implications and let K-Rod finish however many games he needs to for them to do so, they'll have a great bullpen.