|Mets desperately need bullpen help||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on July 21, 2012
If you asked Mets fans if they'd be content with being around .500 in mid-July, many would have graciously accepted it. The team suffered a $52 million payroll hit this offseason and wasn't expected to compete.
However, the Mets have played surprisingly decent baseball. We can only imagine where they'd be if they had a competent bullpen.
The Mets lead the league with 19 bullpen losses. Though the team doesn't boast a particularly potent lineup, the bullpen has been the Achilles' heel and the main reason the Mets are fighting for a wild card spot rather than leading the division.
The challenge to the Mets' front office will be whether to go all in right now in search of one of the two wild card spots without mortgaging their future by trading talented prospects.
There are several relievers available who can help the Mets, but what will other teams ask for? A relief pitcher who will be a free agent next year likely won't break the bank for any contender or pretender who thinks it's a contender.
The Mets always seem to be in this position of trying to cure a weakness, which they thought they already fixed. It started with trying to replace Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez while they were still there, and it's continued with the ongoing Jason Bay saga.
There was a buzz surrounding the Mets in the offseason when general manager Sandy Alderson signed relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch and traded for Ramon Ramirez. All three had experienced some form of success in their careers and were expected to be veteran leaders late in the game.
All three got off to great starts, which helped the Mets win their first four games of the season. Then Ramirez started to skid, then Francisco and then Rauch, and suddenly the "revamped" Mets bullpen was just as bad, if not worse, than last year.
It's been completely a revolving door with veterans like Tim Byrdak and Miguel Batista trying to get outs to youngsters like Elvin Ramirez, Pedro Beato and Josh Edgin trying to make their mark.
The Mets front office showed early that it would not tolerate mediocrity. After a string of poor performances, Manny Acosta and D.J. Carrasco were quickly designated for assignment. However, the lack of depth has curbed any bullpen flexibility the Mets had.
The main problem is inconsistency, mostly in the form of Bobby Parnell. The hard-throwing righty went through a stretch of being unhittable with his 100-mph fastball. But lately it's been a struggle him to get opposing hitters out.
Despite a tough stretch to open the second half, the Mets have gotten great starting pitching from R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Jon Niese and Chris Young. However, their efforts have been thwarted by the bullpen on numerous occasions.
Time is running out for the Mets front office to make a decision. Will Huston Street, Grant Balfour, Brett Myers or even some combination of the three call Citi Field home? We'll find out soon enough.