Jerry Blevins

Mets Themed Valentine’s Day

With today being Valentine’s Day, it is only right we get into the spirit of things by being as clever as Bobby Valentine was the time he used eye black to make a fake mustache.  Without further ado, here are some “clever” Mets themed Valentine’s Day lines you may see on one of those cards you used to pass out to your classmates in grammar school:

Jerry Blevins – Jerry?  Hello!  Be my Valentine

Josh Edgin – I’m Edgin my way closer to you.

Jeurys Familia – I want to become Familia with your sexy self.

Matt Harvey – If you thought 50 Shades of Grey was seductive, wait until you see the Dark Knight I have in store for you.

Seth Lugo – Lugo you want to get with this.

Rafael Montero – You might as well be my Valentine because we both know there’s not getting rid of me not matter how awful I am.

Addison Reed – You and Me Addison up to a great Valentine’s Day

Hansel Robles – You’re so hot right now

Fernando Salas – If I had to the same again, I would, my Valentine, Fernando

Josh Smoker – You’re so hot, I can see the Smoker from miles away

Noah Syndergaard – Can you handle this god’s thunder?

Yoenis Cespedes – There’s a lot of Potencia between you and I Valentine

Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud it pains me to be apart from you

Lucas Duda – Duda right thing and be my Valentine

Wilmer Flores – I’ll cry if you put me in the Friends zone

Amed Rosario – Don’t Be Surprised Be Ready

Neil Walker – I would Walker 5,000 miles to be your Valentine

David Wright – It’s only Wright we would be Valentines

Jay Bruce – Let me be the Valentine you regret for years to come.

Michael Conforto – It’s a Conforto to know whether in NY or Vegas we’re Valentines

Curtis Granderson – It’s Grandy being your Valentine

Juan Lagares – You’re the only Juan for me

Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo I’m smiling because of you.

Ron Darling – Be my Darling this Valentine’s Day

Keith Hernandez – I mustache you to be my Valentine’s Day OR How about a Valentine’s Day mustache ride?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Tom Gorzelanny Was A Perfect Minor League Signing

If you look at the initial reactions to the Tom Gorzelanny signing, it was met with some anger and derision from Mets fans. It has led to a meme where Mets fans have begun to compare him to sloth from the Goonies:

Obviously, this anger comes from Mets fans wanting the team to do more to sign free agent relievers to fill the obvious holes in the Mets bullpen. Namely, Mets fans wanted the team to go out and sign Jerry Blevins, who for some strange reason remains on the free agent market. Because the Mets signed Gorzelanny and not Blevins, Mets fans have understandably overreacted. They shouldn’t.

Because this is a minor league deal, the Mets are not obligated to carry Gorzelanny on the Opening Day roster like they were Antonio Bastardo last season. Essentially, if Gorzelanny does not show the Mets he is not capable of being a part of their bullpen, they can leave him in the minor leagues as depth.

Now, if Gorzelanny does show he can be a solid contributor out of the bullpen, the Mets only owe him $1 million with incentives that could increase his salary to $2.8 million. Essentially, this is a low risk, potentially high reward signing.

And there is reason to believe Gorzelanny can be a solid contributor in 2017. For his career, he has limited left-handed batters to a .229/.302/.356 batting line. For the sake of comparison, Blevins allowed left-handed batters to hit .255/.313/.324 off of him last year. Now, Blevins has historically been better than that against left-handed batters. However, the Mets are looking to replace Blevins’ 2016 production, and judging from Gorzelanny’s career splits, he is more than capable of that.

Another reason to believe in Gorzelanny is his repertoire. He primarily relies upon a low 90s sinker and a low 80s slider. While he also can throw a change-up and a curveball, while he has gotten older he has more and more relied on his sinker and slider. As we have seen with pitchers like Addison Reed and Fernando Salas, Dan Warthen has been successful working with them to get better results with those pitches as they have had in prior stops. It also doesn’t hurt that Travis d’Arnaud and Rene Rivera are excellent pitch framers that will be able to help Gorzelanny get into pitcher’s counts and get him that borderline called third strike.

Also, consider some of the success he has had against some of the left-handed batters he is sure to see during the 2017 season:

At the end of the day, Gorzelanny may very well be considered a solid minor league free agent signing in the same ilk as Darren Oliver or Tim Byrdak.

On the other hand, it might not work out. But if it doesn’t, so what? It’s a classic example of nothing ventured, nothing gained. The million Gorzelanny is potentially earning should not stand in the way of the Mets re-signing Blevins and/or signing another free agent reliever.

And in fact, it didn’t. Not too long after the Mets signed Gorzelanny, the Mets then re-signed both Fernando Salas and Blevins. 

Still, Gorzelanny wasn’t the guy Mets fans wanted, but he could become the guy the Mets fans want on the mound against a left-handed batter this October.

Mets May Have Enough Internal Bullpen Options

With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are really giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly more likely the Mets will use internal options to build their bullpen.

The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.

While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading options:

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

RHP Seth Lugo – While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In limited bullpen duty last year, Lugo was terrific. In his nine relief appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.

RHP Zack Wheeler – Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it should lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.

RHP Paul Sewald – With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a slider in the low 90s with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.

RHP Erik Goeddel – If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely upon. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances. Over that stretch, he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.

RHP Chase Bradford – Like Sewald, Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. However, unlike Sewald, Bradford has struggled in AAA. Over the past three years, Bradford has pitched to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.

RHP Ben Rowen – The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.

RHP Rafael Montero – Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen. (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the major league level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa – Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen when he’s never done that before and the team shifting him between the bullpen and rotation late in the year. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

LHP Josh Smoker – There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) he strikes out a lot of batters; (2) left-handed batters absolutely crush him; and (3) he is not effective for more than one inning. Now, if Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got closer potential. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.

LHP Josh Edgin – Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.

LHP Sean Gilmartin – In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearance pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the major league level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.

LHP David Roseboom – It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a change that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.

LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is the Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. Like with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider.

PREDICTION

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Familia, Reed, and Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to a pitcher who will make the r0ster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Lugo and Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls to try to get a double play to get out of the inning.

If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.

Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there is at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.

 

Mets May Get Lucky With the Reliever Market

First and foremost, it should be noted the Mets unwillingness or inability to sign one or more players before trading away an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce, is aggravating.  Despite the Mets attendance growing and the team’s revenues increasing, the Mets still do not have a payroll commensurate with either their position as a potential playoff team or their stature as a big market team in the biggest market in the world.  It is unfathomable the Mets still cannot have more than a league average payroll.  As a result, we have seen players who could help the Mets sign with other teams.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options still available on the free agent market.  At least conceptually, this means there are more relievers than there are teams in need of them.  Ideally, this means the price for these players should be suppressed.  This goes doubly so with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than one month (February 13th).  In sum, this means the Mets may be able to add one or more of the following on a team friendly deal:

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

Jerry Blevins

2016 Stats: 4-2, 2.79 ERA, 73 G, 2 SV, 42.0 IP, 1.214 WHIP, 11.1 K/9

Heading into free agency, it was assumed Blevins was as good as gone as he wanted a multi-year deal worth approximately $6 million per season.  With teams looking elsewhere in free agency, Blevins remains on the market.  Worse yet, it does not appear that many teams are interested in Blevins services.  That is odd considering he had a career best year pitching to right-handed batters, and for his career, he has limited left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line.  In the end, this could spell the Mets being able to re-sign him to a one-year deal at a modest raise over his $4 million 2016 salary.

Chris Capuano

2016 Stats: 1-1, 4.13 ERA, 16 G, 24.0 IP, 1.583 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

Back in 2011, Capuano came to the Mets looking for a place to rejuvenate his career, and under the tutelage of Dan Warthen, he largely succeeded.  Now, the 38 year old finds himself with another elbow injury that limited him to 16 games in 2016.  He also finds himself in need of an opportunity.  He could be worth a flyer as a LOOGY with left-handed batters slashing .244/.302/.360 against him in his career and .212/.297/.333 in 2016.

J.P Howell

2016 Stats: 1-1, 4.09 ERA, 64 G, 50.2 IP, 1.401 WHIP, 7.8 K/9

Howell has been effective against left-handed batters in his career limiting them to a .229/.306/.317 batting line.  From 2013 – 2015, he was an extremely effective reliever posting a 1.97 ERA over that time span.  However, last year was a struggle for him due largely to left-handed batters hitting him much better.  In 2016, left-handed batters hit .302/.343/.417 off of him.  The question is whether this is the start of a downward trend or just a one season blip for him.

Boone Logan

2016 Stats: 2-5, 3.69 ERA, 60 G, SV, 46.1 IP, 1.014 WHIP, 11.1 K/9

In some respects, it is astounding there is not more interest in Logan with him coming off an effective season while pitching half of his games in Coors Field.  The main reason could be his .225 BABIP against which is well below his career .326 number.  Still, he dominated left-handed batters limiting them to a .142/.222/.255 batting line.  Overall in his career, he has limited left-handed batters to a less impressive .233/.308/.361 batting line.

Travis Wood

2016 Stats: 4-0, 2.95 ERA, 77 G, 61.0 IP, 1.131 WHIP, 6.9 K/9

In the last two years for the Cubs, Wood has transitioned to the bullpen for the Cubs.  If judging by ERA+, Wood is coming off the best season of his seven year career.  In his career, he has been extremely effective getting left-handed batters out limiting them to a .206/.276/.316 batting line.  He was even better in 2016 limiting them to a .128/.208/.239 batting line.  In addition to his pitching, we have also seen him handle left field.

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

Fernando Salas

2016 Stats: 3-7, 3.91 ERA, 75 G, 6 SV, 73.2 IP, 1.113 WHIP, 7.8 K/9

For the past few years with the Angels, Salas was on a downward trend.  However, when he joined the Mets, Salas was seemingly rejuvenated.  Whether it was being in the Wild Card hunt or pitching to much better pitch framers, the results were dramatically different for Salas.  In his 17 games for the Mets, he had a 2.08 ERA, 0.635 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9.  While it is unrealistic to expect him to put up those numbers, it is reasonable to believe he could perform well for the Mets next season.

Joe Blanton

2016 Stats: 7-2, 2.48 ERA, 75 G, 80.0 IP, 1.013 WHIP, 9.0 K/9

After sitting out the 2014 season, Blanton has come back to the majors as a very good relief pitcher.  According to Brooks Baseball, over the past two seasons, Blanton has predominantly become a fastball/slider pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning.  Generally speaking, Blanton has also shown the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark.  While Blanton is not a closer, he has shown the ability to be an extremely effective late inning set-up man.

Neftali Feliz

2016 Stats: 4-2, 3.52 ERA, 62 G, 2 SV, 53.2 IP, 1.137 WHIP, 10.2 K/9

Feliz began his career as a dominant closer.  However, he began to make multiple trips to the disabled list, and in 2015, it all caught up to him as he struggled throughout the season.  Last year, he began pitching much better in Pittsburgh.  Still, he struggled in the second half, and again he needed to be shut down over the final month of the season due to arm problems.

Luke Hochevar

2016 Stats: 2-3, 3.86 ERA, 40 G, 37.1 IP, 1.071 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

Like Matt Harvey, Hochevar needed seasons ending surgery to alleviate the effect of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  Unlike Harvey, Hochevar will not be ready for Opening Day.  As we saw in 2013, when healthy, Hochevar is capable of being a dominant reliever.  However, between his Tommy John surgery in 2014 and his most recent surgery, it is debatable whether he can be that pitcher again.

Greg Holland

2015 Stats: 3-2, 3.83 ERA, 48 G, 32 SV, 44.2 IP, 1.455 WHIP, 9.9 K/9

Judging from the rather ordinary 2015 stats, you knew something was wrong with Holland.  From 2011 – 2014, he was 15-9 with a 1.86 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and a 12.6 K/9.  During this stretch, he averaged 62 appearances, 64.0 innings, and 28 saves.  Holland would need Tommy John surgery robbing him of the remainder of the 2015 and the entirety of the 2016 season.  At this point, Holland is seeking a two year deal worth $11 million per season with an opt out after the first year.  If he returns to form, he may look like a bargain.  If he doesn’t, the contract will be a burden.

Seth Maness

2016 Stats: 2-2, 3.41 ERA, 29 G, 31.2 IP, 1.326 WHIP, 4.5 K/9

Maness’ 2016 season was abbreviated because it was thought he was going to need Tommy John surgery.  Except Maness did not get the surgery.  Rather, Maness opted for a sugery dubbed “primary repair” which seeks not to reconstruct the ligament, but to repair and stabilize it.  He is the first major league pitcher to ever elect this surgery over Tommy John meaning we do not know how successful this will be.  Maness’ 2017 season is going to be an extremely interesting, if not important, one.  If he is truly able to pitch with this surgery, and pitch as well as he has in his career, the Mets may have not only found a quality reliever, but the whole baseball industry may be in the beginnings of a revolution.

Sergio Romo

2016 Stats: 1-0, 2.64 ERA, 40 G, 4 SV, 30.2 IP, 1.076 WHIP, 9.7 K/9

Behind what were some good numbers for Romo in 2016 was an injured plagued year and a drop in velocity.  Still, Romo had a solid season with numbers in line with his career norms.  Unless his elbow injury is worse than believed, it is hard to imagine why a quality reliever like him, one who has closing experience, remains on the free agent market.

Joe Smith

2016 Stats: 2-5, 3.46 ERA, 54 G, 6 SV, 65.1 IP, 1.250 WHIP, 6.9 K/9

Like his former teammate Salas, Smith had regressed in 2015, and he was performing worse in 2016.  Also like Salas, Smith was traded to a postseason team with a excellent pitch framers, and he thrived.  In 16 appearances for the Cubs, Smith posted a 2.51 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, and a 9.4 K/9.  Despite his success in those 16 appearances, Smith was left off the Cubs postseason roster.

Overall, there are a number of relievers still remaining on the free agent market.  Some of these players may be able to be acquired on a minor league deal.  Others may still command major league deals, and yet some more may still get a multi-year contract.  Each one of these pitchers at least has potential to be a contributor to a major league bullpen in 2017.  With all of these choices remaining, it remains possible the Mets are able to add a quality reliever at a reasonable or even discounted price.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

We are headed for another season of Mets baseball where we hope that once again these Mets can make it all the way back to the World Series.  Since 2015, we have seen a definite pattern emerge with the Mets, and I think as Mets fans, we should all try better this year to not react, some would say overreact, when one of the following things we know will happen, happens:

  • The Mets are not going to sign another big name free agent this offseason.  It’s not going to happen, and it just may happen that Jose Bautista winds up in the division and on a fairly discounted deal;
  • Jerry Blevins will sign an extremely reasonable two year deal . . . with another team;
  • Instead of fortifying the bench, the Mets are going to go with this year’s version of Eric Campbell -> Ty Kelly;
  • Terry Collins is going to use and abuse Addison Reed to the point where his arm may actually fall off.  This will go double if Jeurys Familia gets suspended;
  • Hansel Robles is going to go through a stretch in one week where he pitches five innings, 1/3 of an inning, two innings, and three innings, and everyone is going to wonder why his production has fallen off;
  • The infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be ridden hard despite their injury histories and capable backups like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes on the bench;
  • Just pick a random player on the roster – he’s going to be on the DL for over two months with a back injury;
  • There will be a game with Reyes in center and Juan Lagares in right;
  • Travis d’Arnaud is going to get injured, and Kevin Plawecki is not going to be able to replace his bat in the lineup;
  • Matt Harvey will complain about the six man rotation that will be implemented at some point during the season;
  • Robert Gsellman will make an appearance throwing well over 100 pitches in five innings or less;
  • Rene Rivera will hit under the Mendoza Line;
  • T.J. Rivera will be raking in AAA and not get called up despite the Mets needing some offense;
  • Michael Conforto will not face one left-handed pitcher all season;
  • Yoenis Cespedes will not dive for a ball, run out a pop up, or run hard to first on a dropped strike three;
  • Curtis Granderson will have a better OBP than Reyes, but Collins will continue to lead off Reyes and his sub .330 OBP;
  • Collins will not know if Brandon Nimmo is faster than Flores and it will cost them a game;
  • No matter where he winds up this offseason, and no matter how poor his year is going, Chase Utley will hit two home runs in a game he faces the Mets;
  • Sandy Alderson will mortgage a part of the Mets future because he didn’t make a move in the offseason that he should have made;
  • Paul Sewald will pitch well in AAA, but the Mets won’t call him up because they would rather rip Sean Gilmartin or Gabriel Ynoa from the Vegas rotation to make a relief appearance on 2-3 days of rest;
  • Both Josh Smoker and Robles will be fully warmed up, and Collins will go to Smoker to pitch to the lefty;
  • For reasons the Mets themselves can’t quite explain, Rafael Montero will spend the full season on the 40 man roster;
  • d’Arnaud will come off the disabled list, play well for a stretch, and the Mets will lose him and Steven Matz in the same game;
  • Matz will have appendicitis, but the Mets will talk him out of the surgery because they need him to start against the Reds;
  • Dilson Herrera will tear it up every time he plays the Mets;
  • Wherever he lands, Jay Bruce is going to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI;
  • Collins will show up in the dugout without wearing pants, and the Mets still won’t fire him;
  • Noah Syndergaard will get ejected from a game for throwing inside.  A player who takes a bat to one of the Mets infielders in retaliation won’t;
  • Fans will clamor for Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to get called up all season long;
  • Seth Lugo will bounce between the bullpen and rotation so much, MLB is actually going to test him to see if his arm is actually made out of rubber;
  • Bartolo Colon will pitch so poorly against the Mets, fans will wonder why they wanted a bum like him back;
  • R.A. Dickey will not only beat the Mets, but he will throw the team into a week  long offensive funk causing some fans to decry the trade;
  • One or more pitchers will get hurt, and fans that even question if the Warthen Slider could be an issue will be mocked mercilessly;
  • Some way some how Jon Niese will pitch for this team;
  • Rather than build Tom Seaver a statue, the Mets will issue #41 to Niese upon his return to the team;
  • Daniel Murphy will have another terrific year for the Nationals, and some Mets fans will still defend the decision to let him go;
  • Ricky Knapp will make a solid spot start for the Mets causing fans to think he is the second coming;
  • Mets will trade a good prospect for Kelly Johnson; and
  • Despite all of this the Mets will make it to the postseason

Honestly, I give it until April 9th when Collins declares the last game in a three game set against the Marlins is a must-win game.

Mets Don’t Need To Sign Left-Handed Reliever

In 2015, the Mets not only won the National League East, but they went all the way to the World Series.  During that wonderfully unexpected run, the team left a bevvy of left-handed relievers in their wake.  Time and again, the team tried to solve their presumed issues with not having a left-handed reliever to no avail.  Here is a look at all the left-handed relievers they went through that season:

  • Josh Edgin – needed Tommy John surgery before the season began
  • Jerry Blevins – appeared in seven games before suffering a broken arm
  • Alex Torres – pitched to a 1.515 WHIP and was released on August 4th
  • Sean Gilmartin – used as a long man in the bullpen due in part to his reverse splits
  • Jack Leathersich – shuttled back and forth between New York and Las Vegas before his season ended due to him needing Tommy John surgery
  • Dario Alvarez – appeared in six games before suffering a groin injury that cost him the rest of the season
  • Eric O’Flaherty – 13.50 ERA and left off the postseason roster

The lack of the left-handed pitcher did not prevent this team from making it to the postseason or to going to the World Series.  The main reason is that team’s right-handed relievers could pitch to left-handed batters.  In fact, the batting lines suggests the right-handed relievers performed just as well as a LOOGY would:

The moral of the story is that you do not need a left-handed pitcher to get out left-handed batters.  Rather, you need pitchers who are effective at pitching against left-handed batters to get them out.

There are some caveats.  First, the Mets did go with Jon Niese as the left-hander in the bullpen during the 2015 postseason, and he did get some big outs including a key strike out of Anthony Rizzo in the NLCS.  Second, Blevins was an extremely important part of the 2016 bullpen.  Without Blevins in the bullpen, it is quite possible the Mets do not get one of the two Wild Card spots.  This creates a problem as Blevins is now a free agent – a free agent that is about to cash in on a terrific year.

So far, we have seen arguably less talented left-handed relievers get big contracts.  Brett Cecil received a four year $30.5 million contract from the Cardinals.  Marc Rzepczynski received a two year $11 million contract from the Mariners.  Mike Dunn received a three year $19 million from the Colorado Rockies.   According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Blevins was already seeking a three year deal worth $5-$6 million per season.  Based upon the contracts already handed out, it is easy to assume Blevins will get the deal he is seeking.

However, it should be noted that deal is likely not coming from the Mets.  As already noted, Sandy Alderson does not want to give out multi-year deals to relievers.  Furthermore, it does not not appear the Mets are interested in investing $6 million a year on a left-handed reliever.  With that being the case, the Mets best chance might be to revert to the 2015 model thrust upon them.

From that team, Familia, Reed, and Robles still remain, and they are still effective as ever in getting left-handed batters out.  Here were their stats from the 2016 season:

  • Familia .239/.315/.313
  • Reed .210/.264/.269
  • Robles .179/.287/.299

There is also some promise with Edgin.  Despite him not fully regaining his velocity after his Tommy John surgery, he still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out in a very small sample size.  In 2016, he faced 20 left-handed batters, and he limited them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.

Between, Familia, Reed, Robles, and Edgin, the 2017 Mets may already have sufficient bullpen depth to get left-handed batters out.  Moreover, with the Mets resportedly wanting to cut payroll from where it currently stands, the team may be forced to stick in-house and instead seek a seventh inning reliever.

That is certainly a justifiable route because the bullpen as constructed already has enough depth to get left-handed batters out.  As such, the team does not need to add a left-hander for the sake of adding a left-hander.

A Mets Carol

On a cold and blustery Christmas Eve night at Citi Field, faithful manager Terry Collins enters Fred Wilpon’s office.

Terry: I just wanted to stop on my way out to wish you and your family a happy holiday, and I just wanted to let you know I look forward to working with you and Sandy to help build a Mets team that can go to the World Series again.

Fred: What do you mean build?

Terry:  Well, there are a few areas I was hoping to address.  With Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins free agents, we need a couple of relievers in the bullpen, and –

Fred: Relievers?  I just gave you two guys last week!

Terry: I know, but those were minor league deals.

Fred: I don’t get it.  After Madoff, I’ve done all I could do to get my money back, and now everyone wants me to just give it away.

Terry:  Well, we do owe the fans.

Fred:  Seriously?

Terry:  Well, I guess not.  Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to next season.

Fred: Bah!

Not long after Terry leaves, Fred Wilpon leaves Citi Field, and he begins his drive to Greenwich.  He pulls up to a stately manor that hasn’t been renovated since 2008.  He makes his way into the bedroom, and before he can turn on the lights, he hears a ghostly whisper coming from behind him.  It sounds like his name, but he initially can’t quite make it out.  Suddenly, as if out of nowhere a figure emerges.

Fred: No, it can’t be.  Is that really you?

M. Donald Grant: It is.

Fred: But, you’re dead.  How?  How?

M. Donald Grant: I’ve come here to deliver a message.

Fred: What?

M. Donald Grant: Remember when I was alive, I won a World Series, and then I refused pay raises to everyone.  Remember when I shipped Tom Seaver and everyone of value out of town?

Fred: All while keeping the team profitable!

M. Donald Grant: Yup, I mean no.  No!  I was wrong, and now I have to watch the 1962 Mets over and over again.  But worse, I have to give the players raises after each and every game despite no one coming to the ballpark!

Fred: The horror.

M. Donald Grant: And if you don’t change, your fate will be worse than mine.

Fred: No . . . NO! . . .  You’ve got to save me.

M. Donald Grant: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits.  Listen to them!  Do what they say!  Or you will be cursed for eternity.

And with that the apparition of Grant faded away leaving Fred frightened in his room.  A few times he splashed cold water on his face and pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.  Still shaken, Fred made his way to bed.  After a while, his fatigue got the better of his anxiety, and he faded to sleep.  Then there was a loud noise like the roar of the crowd.  It jostled Fred from his sleep.  Still groggy, he looked out and couldn’t believe the figure before him.

Fred: No, it can’t be.  Is it really you Gary?

Before Fred was Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter.  Back in 1985, when Fred had just a small interest in the team, the Mets traded for Carter in the hopes that he would put the Mets over the top.  Eventually, Carter did with the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. Notably, Carter started the game winning two out rally in the bottom of the 10th to allow the Mets to force a Game 7.

Gary: It’s really me Fred.  I’m now the Ghost of Baseball Past.

Fred: Am I dead?

Gary:  No, you’re not.  I’m here to show you what things used to be like before you changed the way you did business with the Mets.

With that Gary, took a swing of the bat creating a cloud of dust and smoke all over the room.  As the dust settled, the Mets found themselves back in a sold out Shea Stadium.

Fred: What a dump!

Gary: You didn’t always think so.  In fact, you used to love coming here.  Back in the 80s, Shea Stadium was the place to be.  Those Mets teams were stacked with players like me, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and tonight’s starter Dwight Gooden.

Fred:  Those Gooden starts were something special.  No one could beat us then, and we knew it.  We never could quite capture the magic from those teams again, but that was something special.

Gary:  This is how things used to be.  It was always this way.  You did it again when you signed Mike Piazza, except you didn’t just sign him.  You surrounded him with good players like Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo.  That team came close.  You did it again with Carlos Beltran.  You spent the extra dollar to get a truly great player.  You then added players like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana to try to get it done.  It didn’t work, but the fans came.  More importantly, everyone respected you for it.

Fred: But they don’t understand.

Gary: Let’s see what happened next.

With a blink of Fred’s eye, Shea Stadium is just a memory.  As he reopens his eyes, he is back in Citi Field as it was before it was fully renovated.  The fans were angry with the team.  It was one thing that the ballpark didn’t fully honor Mets history; it was another that the Mets let Jose Reyes walk in the offseason without so much as an offer.  It was an uninspiring 88 loss win team that was seemingly going nowhere.

Fred: When did we put the Great Wall of Flushing back in?  Where are all the fans?

Gary: You didn’t.  It’s 2012.

Fred:  That was an ugly time.  Fans constantly complaining and booing.  The team and I were personally cash strapped.  I had no idea what our future was or could be.  Worse yet, no one seemed to understand.  The fans, the players, the press.  No one.  The whole thought of this time is just too much to bear.  I can’t . . .

Before Fred could finish the sentence, he was hit in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy.  Next thing Fred knew, he was awake, with a headache back in his bed in Greenwich.

Fred: Man, I really have to lay off the Shake Shack late at night.  It gives me the strangest dreams.  And man, just remembering those days just gives me a headache.  I never want to get back to that point . . .

As the words left Fred’s lips, there was a strange noise. Fred looked over, and he sees beloved former announcer and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in what appears to be old set of Kiner’s Korner.

Fred: Ralph?

Ralph: Well hi everybody it’s Ralph Kiner, the Ghost of Christmas Present, on Kiner’s Korner.  Well the Mets are in the middle of the offseason after the team failed to win the Wild Card Game.  While the team acted quickly and brought back Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets offseason has been marked by inactivity.  Recently, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson stated the Mets were going to have to move a contract like Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson before they could sign additional players this offseason.  We have Mets owner Fred Wilpon on to talk about it next.

Fred:  Ralph?

Ralph:  Welcome back to Kiner’s Korners.  As you know Kiner’s Koners is sponsored by Rheingold – the Dry Beer!

Ralph: Hi Mr. Wilpon, welcome to Kiner’s Korners.

Fred: I’m not sure what exactly is happening here.

Ralph:  Well, Mr. Wilpon, we’re here to talk about your team and what the 2017 roster will look like.

Fred:  We’ve given Sandy free reign to do whatever he needs to do to put the best team on the field.  We trust in his decision making, and we always demure to him on personnel decisions.

Ralph: Well Mr. Wilpon, there are not many that believe you.  In fact, the fans will say that the team isn’t going to spend the money on the players like the Mets should.  It reminds me back when I had won another home run title for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I went to Branch Rickey to ask for a raise.  During the meeting, Rickey denied me a raise saying, “We finished eighth with you, we can finish eighth without you.”  From there of course, I was then traded to the Chicago Cubs.  This is the same Chicago Cubs franchise that won their first World Series title since 1908.  The Cubs were once defeated –

Fred:  Okay, okay.  No, we’re not spending any money until we move a contract.  That’s just the way things work now.  This isn’t the old days where Omar gets free reign.

Ralph: Well, the fans are angry the team isn’t spending money.  And I remember as a player how much the team wanted to know the owner supported them.  When the team had the support of ownership it had an effect in the clubhouse and the play on the field.

Fred: Let’s be honest.  The fans will let me do whatever I want so long as we’re winning.  With the team we have now, we’re going to fill the seats because we have Cespedes.  We have free t-shirts.  We get to hype up the starts of not just Matt Harvey, but also Noah Syndergaard.  As for the players, the only thing they really care about is their salary.

Ralph:  That’s not true.  Here is a videotape of your captain David Wright.

A large screen appears on the set of Kiner’s Korner with an image of Wright at his home talking to Collins about the upcoming season.

Collins: I know it may be a little late, but I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.  And I wanted to let you know that we’re all pulling for you to get back out on that field.

David:  It’s hard skip.  I wake up in pain everyday.  It was bad enough when it was just the stenosis, but now it is my neck too.  I just spend all of my day rehabbing and working out.  I do all these special exercises for my back and my neck.  It’s almost 24 hours of pure hell.  It’s made all the harder by the fact that every minute I spend working out is time away from my wife and daughter.  Baseball has always been a sacrifice, and I love it.  But it just gets harder and harder.

Collins:  You know the whole team is behind you.  If there is anything you ever need, you just have to ask.  And if you feel as if you can’t go on, you’ll always have a place on my staff.

David:  I can’t hang ’em up.  Not yet.  Not with this team.  We’re so close.  I’ve come so close to the World Series a few times in my career, and I’ve fallen short.  I don’t know if I’ll ever feel right hanging it up without winning one.

Fred: This is costing me $20 million a year.

David:  And it’s not just about me.  I owe a World Series to Mets fans who have supported me my whole career.  They’ve gone out and bought my jerseys.  They’ve cheered for me.  They’ve always been there for me.  And more importantly, I owe it to the Wilpon family.  I saw what happened with Reyes and the other players who left.  They decided to keep me.  They made me the face of the franchise and the team captain.  I’ve loved being a Met, and the Wilpons made that possible.

Fred:  I just never knew how much he cared and how appreciative he was.

Ralph: Time for another commercial break and word from our sponsor the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Everything turns to black like a television screen being turned off.  At first, Fred sits there quietly unsure of what is happening.  He then finds himself in a strange room with Darryl Hamilton wearing his black Mets jersey.  The same jerseys the Wilpons wanted to help drum up fan interest and help increase revenues.  At first, Hamilton says nothing.  He just looks at Fred before gesturing for Fred to follow him.

Fred follows Darryl down a hallway.  Eventually, an image of a badly beaten down Wright emerges.  On the walls are different jerseys he wore in his career.  A shelf displays all of his awards and his 2015 National League Pennant ring.  Wright moves around the room but with great difficulty.  Although still relatively young, he moves like an old man.  He’s there with another person.

Woman: Look, this is not going to happen overnight.  With the beating your body has taken you’re luck you’re even in position to walk.

David: I don’t care.  I need you to get me to the point where I can dance again.  There is nothing that is going to stop me from dancing at my daughter’s wedding.

Woman: Ok, but we need to take it slowly.  You’ve had a number of injuries in your career, especially those last few.  Doing things like dancing is going to come with some difficulty for you.  The trick is to build everything up so you can do it again.

Fred: What, what happened to him?

Darryl only nods his head in the direction of the trophy case.

Fred:  He never won?  But we had Harvey and Syndergaard.  We had Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.  We had Cespedes.  Of course we won at least one.  There is no way we let that core go without winning a World Series.  Surely, we made a move to get that final piece at least one of those years.

David: On cold days like this, it really makes me wonder how wise it was sticking to the end of my contract rather than just medically retiring the way Albert Belle and Prince Fielder did.  I really wonder if Prince has the same problems I have.  Still, I would do it all over again because trying to win that ring was important not just for my career, the fans, and Fred.

Woman: What happened?

David: We were so close, but we shot ourselves in the foot in 2015.  After that, we always just seemed one or two players short.  We gave it the best we could, but it just wasn’t meant to be . . . .

As David drifts off, Darryl gestures for Fred to re-enter the dark hallway.  The two make their way down before standing outside the Rotunda entrance to Citi Field.  Nearby is a group of men putting up a few statues.  In the parking lot adjacent to 126th Street, there are a number of moving vans.

Worker 1: Honestly, it is about time there was a Tom Seaver statue erected at Citi Field.  I think adding the Piazza one as well was a nice touch.

Worker 2:  Things have been a lot better around here with the new guys came in.

Worker 1:  And ain’t no one going to miss the old group.

Worker 2:  How can you?  They let the whole thing fall apart.

Worker 1:  Good riddance!

Fred: What is happening here?  What old group?  Who authorized these statues?

With that Fred began a dead sprint towards the entrance to the executive offices, but he was distracted by a commotion happening at McFadden’s.  Despite wanting to get back to his office, Fred found himself drawn to the bar where he found a group of people in celebration.

Man:  Shhh!  It’s about to be on the television.

Reporter: After years of seeing homegrown players sign elsewhere, and the Mets having been inactive on the free agent market, Citi Field has become eerily reminiscent of Grant’s Tomb in the 1970s.  With fan interest at a nadir and record low revenues for the team, it became time for a change.

Fred: Darryl!  What are they talking about?

Man:  This is a dream come true for me.  As a little boy sitting int he Upper Deck at Shea Stadium, I never imagined I would be in the position I am here today.  And yet, here I am.

Cheers spread through McFaddens making the sound from the televisions inaudible.

Man:  Back in 1980, the late Nelson Doubleday purchased the New York Mets from the Payson family.  From that day, a new era of Mets prosperity began with ownership investing not just in good baseball people, but also its players and its fans.  My pledge to the Mets fans is to operate this club much in the same fashion as Mr. Doubleday, and with that, a new era of Mets prominence will begin.

As cheers fill the room and the bartenders try to keep up with the customers needing drinks, a bewildered Fred turns back to Darryl.

Fred:  Darryl, what is happening with my team?  Was it . . .

As Fred trails off, he can see a sullen Jeff Wilpon standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a driver to take him home.  Before Jeff could get into the car, he is ambushed by a group of reporters.  Instinctively, Jeff runs out to assist his son.

Reporter:  How do you feel today?

Jeff:  How do you expect me to feel?  The thing that mattered most to my father is now gone.

Reporter:  What message do you have for Mets fans?

Jeff:  I’m not sure where you guys have been all these years.  If you came to the park, we might’ve been able to improve the team and prevent this day from happening.

Fred:  Jeff, don’t tell me you did it!  Don’t tell me you sold my team!

Reporter:  How do you think your father would feel about this moment?

Jeff:  Look guys, it’s been a hard day in what has been a hard few years.  I just want to go home to my family.

Fred:  Jeff!  Jeff!  I’m over here!  Jeff!

With Jeff being worn down by the questioning, and his being unable to hear his father scream, he enters the car.  Initially, Fred heads toward Jeff while repeatedly asking him what happened with the Mets.  With Jeff being unresponsive, and with Fred knowing he’s not going to be able to get to the door in time,  he runs in front of the car in an attempt to stop it.  The car pulls from the curb, makes contact with Fred, and everything goes black.

The sun begins to rise, and it begins to light Fred’s room in Greenwich.  The sun shines in Fred’s eyes causing him to initially squint.  When he realizes that a new day has begun, Fred eagerly jumps from his bed, and he checks his iPhone.

Fred:  It’s December 25, 2016!  I still own the team!  The spirits have given me another chance!

Fred grabs his phone, and he calls his secretary to immediately set up a conference call with Collins, Alderson, and Wright.

Fred:  I’m sorry to bother you on Christmas morning, but I felt like this couldn’t wait any longer.  We have a window here, and we have to take advantage of it.  Sandy, the shackles are off.  You have everything you need at your disposal.  We owe Terry the best team possible for him to lead the Mets back to the World Series.  And we owe it to you David because you stuck by us when times were at their lowest.  We can’t let you finish your career without winning a World Series.  It wouldn’t be fair, and it wouldn’t be right.

Terry:  Thank you, and God bless you Mr. Wilpon!

David:  God bless us everyone!

The Jay Bruce Trade Keeps Giving

Typically, speaking when fans are frustrated during the offseason it would indicate their team has been largely inactive.  After a “flurry” of early activity that included Neil Walker accepting the qualifying offer and Yoenis Cespedes signing a four year deal that team has been the Mets.

The frustrating reason why the Mets have been inactive is they have been unable to move Jay Bruce or even Curtis Granderson this offseason.

When the Cubs traded away Jorge Soler before signing Koji Uehara, I was almost led to believe that a team could not sign a free agent reliever until they traded away an outfielder.  Given the relative inactivity on all free agents this offseason, it seemed like this was a bizarre and strange wrinkle added to the newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Alas, when the Marlins signed Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler it proved a team can sign a reliever without trading an outfielder.

That’s what makes this offseason so frustrating.  The Mets are letting Bruce and/or Granderson hold their entire offseason hostage while players who can very well help them are going to other teams.  Once again, the Mets have signaled they are not quite willing to spend.  They are not willing to spend like a team in New York.  They are not willing to spend like a team on the cusp of the World Series.  Instead, this team is actually looking to cut payroll from its current levels before making another move.

Somewhere, someone is saying that spending doesn’t guarantee a World Series.  That person is largely correct.  However, this point also neglects the Chicago Cubs, a team that just went to the NLCS, went out last offseason and signed Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester.  The team also took on Aroldis Chapman‘s salary because they needed a closer heading into the offseason.  No, the money didn’t guarantee the Cubs the World Series, but the money spent helped them win the World Series.  By the way, Zobrist was the World Series MVP.

Somewhere else is a fan urging patience.  Admittedly, Chapman and Kenley Jansen making late decisions held up most of the free agent market.  This in turn led to a late and slow developing market for the next tier of relievers.  However, those relievers are now coming off the board, and the Mets were not really in the discussion for any of them.  In reality, the Mets aren’t going to be contenders for any relievers if they are looking to hand out cheap one year deals.

This means a player like Fernando Salas, who was very good for the Mets last year, may very well find himself playing for another team without receiving a competitive offer from the Mets.  That really is unacceptable.

Lastly, there is someone saying that signing a reliever now would really hurt Bruce’s trade market.  This is of course nonsense because Bruce obliterated much of the trade market by hitting .219/.294/.391 with the Mets.  That market took another hit when the Mets re-signed Cespedes.  It took yet another hit when Sandy said the Mets had to trade him before making another deal.  Essentially, the Mets have forfeited whatever little leverage they had in trade discussions.  How can the team re-signing Salas hurt Bruce’s market any more than it has?

Overall, the fact is the Mets are going to eventually be able to move Bruce.  Once players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and even Mark Trumbo sign, there are going to be teams interested in Bruce.  However, how long is that going to take in what has been a really slow developing free agent market on almost all fronts?  What players that can help the Mets are still going to be available in free agency?

The likelihood is players that would be willing to sign with the Mets are going to be elsewhere which makes this inactivity all the more frustrating.  The team has real needs in the bullpen, and they need to address them now especially with the prospect of losing Jeurys Familia for 30 games.

Ultimately, it is time the Mets act like an even mid-sized market team and get the players it needs to compete for a World Series next season.  This isn’t a matter of going out there and giving Jerry Blevins a five year deal for the sake of making a move.  It is a matter of letting a pitcher like Ziegler go to an in-division rival on a reasonable contract.  That’s an error created by the Mets not having the resources they need to compete.

It’s a shame too because with one or two moves this team could have been drastically better.

Mets Internal Bullpen Options

Lets start with the caveat that the non-elite closer bullpen market has yet to fully materialize.  Once Kenley Jansen picks his team, it appears as if the market for the next tier of relievers, which includes possible Mets targets in Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara, will begin to emerge.  It is also possible the Mets could trade Jay Bruce or some other players for bullpen help.

With those caveats in mind, there are two issues confronting the Mets bullpen.  The first is that many relievers who could help the Mets in 2017 may move out of their price range, especially with Sandy Alderson announcing the team has to reduce its current payroll.  The other obvious issue is the Mets have to somehow contend with the possibility that Jeurys Familia may be gone for a significant portion of the season.  With that in mind, the Mets may very well have to look internally to fill one or more of the holes in their bullpen.

This begs the question about whether they can do it.  Here is a look at some of the options for the 2017 season to determine whether or not the Mets current bullpen issues can be solved internally:

Josh Edgin

2016 MLB Stats: 1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 G, 10.1 IP, 1.548 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 2-2, 3.11 ERA, 43 G, 37.2 IP, 1.540 WHIP, 10.8 K/9

In his first season back from Tommy John surgery, the biggest thing that stuck out for Edgin was his loss of velocity.  Once, Edgin was a reliever who came out of the bullpen throwing 94 MPH.  In 2016, Edgin loss three MPH off his fastball, and as a result, he went from limiting right-handed batters to a .219/.286/.250 batting line in his breakout 2014 season to a .300/.400/.500 batting line in 2016.

It should be noted the numbers from the 2014 and 2016 seasons are both relatively small sample sizes.  Additionally, Edgin continued to pitch well against left-handed batters in 2016 limiting them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.  With that Edgin proved he can still be an effective LOOGY out of the pen even with this reduced velocity.  If Edgin were to regain that velocity, he can fully take over the role left vacated by Jerry Blevins.

Sean Gilmartin

2016 MLB Stats: 0-1, 7.13 ERA, 14 G, GS, 17.2 IP, 1.585 WHIP, 5.6 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 9-7, 4.86 ERA, 19 G, 18 GS, 107.1 IP, 1.425 WHIP, 7.9 K/9

Despite Gilmartin being an important part of the Mets 2015 bullpen, the team decided it was better for him to work on being a starting pitcher in AAA rather than him reprising his role as the long man in the bullpen.  While he started out well for the 51s, he would eventually begin to suffer some shoulder discomfort, which required a stint on the disabled list, and his stats would suffer from there.  It probably didn’t help that the Mets expected him to take cross-country flights and make multiple inning appearances out of the bullpen with three days of rest or less.  Ultimately, we have seen Gilmartin be successful in the major leagues out of the bullpen, and accordingly, we should not discount the possibility he will be successful out of the bulllpen again in 2017.

Seth Lugo

2016 MLB Stats: 5-2, 2.67 ERA,  17 G, 8 GS, 64.0 IP, 1.094 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 3-4, 6.50, 21 G, 14 GS, 73.1 IP, 1.677 WHIP, 7.6 K/9

After Lugo struggled in AAA, he was taken out of the rotation, and he was put in the bullpen.  For a guy that can max out his fastball over 95 MPH and has a terrific curveball, it seemed like the best place for him in a Mets organization with plenty of pitching depth.  When he first came up to the majors and made Anthony Rizzo look foolish with his curveball, it seemed like Lugo had a home in the bullpen.

However, with the starting pitching injuries mounting, Lugo was thrust into the rotation.  With a postseason berth on the line, he combined with fellow rookie Robert Gsellman to pitch extremely well.  It is now debatable as to whether or not the bullpen is the best use of Lugo’s talents.  It is all the more debatable when you consider the Mets rotation has some injury concerns and is likely going to deal with some innings limits.  With that in mind, while Lugo has certainly proven himself to be an effective reliever, he may be best suited to either the fifth spot in the rotation, or starting the year in the AAA rotation and being ready for the first opportunity that arises.

Paul Sewald

2016 MiLB Stats: 5-3, 3.29 ERA, 56 G, 19 SV, 65.2 IP, 1.203 WHIP, 11.0 K/9

With Sewald not being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he is now a possibility to be a part of the Mets bullpen in 2017.  The issue with Sewald is his stuff is not that impressive with him only topping out in the low 90s with his fastball.  However, that overlooks the fact that he has a good slider which he uses as an out pitch, and the fact he rarely walks batters.  In his minor league career, he has only walked 59 batters in 258.0 innings pitched.

Another factor to consider is how well he pitched in the Pacific Coast League, which is a hitter’s haven.  In the second half of the season, Sewald made 20 appearances going 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 10 saves, 0.95 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9.  In looking over his entire minor league career, Sewald has rarely walked batters, has struck out over 10 batters per nine, has had low ERAs, and has consistently been a good closer.  With his experience, talent, and the Mets catchers excellent pitch framing, there is every reason to believe Sewald has a legitimate chance to be a good reliever in the major leagues.

Josh Smoker

2016 MLB Stats: 3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 G, 15.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 3-2, 4.11 ERA, 52 G, 57.0 IP, 1.474 WHIP, 12.8 K/9

The Smoker we saw with the Mets was essentially the Smoker that we have seen in his minor league career.  Smoker is a one inning reliever who strikes out a lot of batters, but he has reverse splits.  Whereas Edgin is a LOOGY, Smoker is somehow a left-handed ROOGY that gets tattooed by left-handed hitting.  Another issue for Smoker is he is only good for one inning.  Every single outing he was asked to go over one inning by the Mets, he allowed a home run.

Still, there is a place for a pitcher like Smoker in the bullpen.  His ability to generate strikeouts at a level as high as he does is rare, and it is very valuable.

Zack Wheeler

2014 Stats: 11-11, 3.54 ERA, 32 G, 32 GS, CG, SHO, 185.1 IP, 1.327 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

With Wheeler missing two seasons, the Mets have already bandied the idea of putting Wheeler and his 96 MPH fastball in the bullpen.  On the one hand, it seems like it is a good opportunity for Wheeler to get back to pitching to major league batters while keeping his inning down after missing the past two seasons while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

There are some issues with Wheeler in the bullpen.  The first is he has a tendency to lose the strike zone which is a huge problem for short inning relievers.  The second is, as we saw with Jim Henderson, Terry Collins has a tendency to overlook his relievers injury issues and overwork them anyway.  The third and final issue is what type of reliever will he be?  Is he going to be a multi-inning reliever who will be shut down for a couple of days afterwards, or is he going to be a one inning reliever expected to air it out for one inning.

The answer to that and many other questions will be resolved once the Mets ultimately decide what Wheeler is.  Is he someone that can rejoin the rotation, or is he someone forever slated to the bulllpen?  At this point, it is hard to know the answer.

Overall, the Mets have plenty of internal options to fill-out their bullpen.  Indeed, if they were to use only internal options, it is possible the Mets could build themselves a very good bullpen.  However, if the Mets were to purely stick with internal options, it remains possible the Mets may expose their starting rotation by not having pitchers like Gilmartin, Lugo, or Wheeler sufficiently stretched out to start.

Ulimately, the Mets would be wise to use some of their internal options to help build their bullpen in 2017.  With that said, the team is still going to need to obtain one or two relievers before the end of the offseason.

Cutting Payroll Is Unacceptable

Every Mets fan was elated the Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes to a four year $110 million contract.  With that contract on the heels of Neil Walker accepting the $17.2 million qualifying offer, it appeared as if the Mets were finally out from under the Madoff disaster, and they were ready to spend like the big market team they were.  Turns out we were wrong . . . very wrong.

As the Winter Meetings come to a close, Sandy Alderson met with reporters, and he informed them that the Mets are not only done spending, they actually need to shed payroll before Opening Day.

That’s right.  Alderson expects the Mets to be below $150 million before Opening Day.  According to Spotrac, a payroll under $150 million would put the Mets in bottom half of payroll in the major leauges.  Worse yet, reducing the payroll would actually mean the Mets 2017 payroll will be lower than the Mets year-end 2016 payroll.  The payroll will be lower despite the Mets coming off back-to-back postseason appearances, the Mets having twice increased ticket prices, and attendance having gone up each year since 2013.  With increased revenues, there is no reason for the Mets to reduce payroll.

Now, payroll isn’t everything.  As we saw in 2015, it is possible to compete without having one of the top payrolls in the majors.  Ultimately, it is not payroll that wins, it’s talent.  Looking over the Mets major league roster, the team still does not have everything it needs to win in 2017.

First and foremost, the bullpen is in disarray.  The Mets are likely to lose Jerry Blevins to free agency, and it is likely the team will lose Fernando Salas.  Right there, the Mets need to obtain another LOOGY unless you believe Josh Edgin will suddenly find his lost velocity or Josh Smoker‘s entire career of reverse splits will suddenly reverse itself.  Morevover, the Mets will need a seventh inning reliever, which is something the team has seemingly always needed in the Sandy Alderson Era.  Further compounding the issue is the prospect of a lengthy Jeurys Familia suspension.  With all those factors in mind, this team is 2-3 arms short in the bullpen.

Speaking of arms, it is questionable the Mets have enough starting pitching.  Yes, the team does seem to have seven starters, but most of them carry question marks and/or innings restrictions.  Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz are all coming off season ending surgeries.  To ask them to make 30 innings and throw over 200 innings may be unrealistic.  Both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo helped pitch the Mets to the postseason last year, but they will likely be on innings restrictions in 2017 meaning if they are in the Opening Day rotation, they will likely need to be shut down by September.  Finally, no one can reasonably expect anything from Zack Wheeler after he hasn’t pitched in over two years.  With that in mind, the Mets could use a veteran starter who could eat up innings as the fifth starter, and also could serve as the long man in the bullpen once the Mets are ready to hand the reigns to a Gsellman, Lugo, or Wheeler.

The bench could probably use some help as well.  Rene Rivera is a nice backup catcher, but he’s better suited on a team that has a catcher who is not as injury prone as Travis d’Arnaud.  Arguably, the team could also use another bat for the bench, especially when you consider the battle for the final spot on the bench will be between Ty Kelly and T.J. Rivera.  Given Kelly’s switch hitting ability, and Terry Collins apparently fondness for him, it is likely Kelly will win that competition.

Overall, these are a lot of holes to fill.  Arguably, being able to trade Bruce will fill one of them, but will it?  If the Mets are indeed looking to slash payroll, how could the team take back salary in the deal?  Even assuming the Mets can bring back salary in the deal, doesn’t that mean the team will be prevented from adding another player or two in free agency?

Ultimately, that’s the problem.  The team’s needs are not likely going to be filled internally unless you believe Wheeler will be a dominant reliever, Sean Gilmartin will return to his 2015 form, Gabriel Ynoa will take a huge stride forward in his development, and Kelly starts improving at 28 years of age.  It is nice to hope this will all work out, but as history tells us, it is rare that everything breaks right for a team in one year.  No, the gaps will have to be filled by acquiring players, which will cost money.

Unfortunately, the Mets once again seem out of money.  It’s getting old, and sooner or later, it is going to cost the Mets a chance at the postseason as it nearly did last year.  When the team is raising ticket prices and the fans are still coming to the ballpark, that isn’t alright.  It’s about time the Mets start spending to at least address their needs in the offseason.