One good thing we can say about the bullpen, Mike, it’s that the same approach Sandy Alderson took with the outfield might actually make sense in the modern bullpen. There’s actually an argument for assembling a bunch of guys, keeping an open mind, and hoping for the best — rather than going out and over-spending on “proven” major leaguers.
We do have an interesting array of arms, but we seem short on excellence. Let’s start by throwing out some names:
- Frank Francisco (lock)
- Bobby Parnell (lock)
- Jeurys Familia (hopeful)
- Greg Burke (hopeful)
- Elvin Ramirez (dark horse)
- Jeremy Hefner (long man)
- Josh Edgin (lefty)
- Robert Carson (lefty, hopeful)
- Pedro Feliciano (lefty)
- Jenrry Meija (AAA)
- Collin McHugh (dark horse, long man)
- Aaron Laffey (lefty)
- Darin Gorski (AAA, I think)
- Scott Atchison (just signed, health?)
That’s it for seven slots. If we were calling it today, I guess we’d have Francisco, Parnell, Burke, Familia, Hefner, Edgin, and Carson. That’s not scaring anybody, is it? (I mean, besides the fans at Citi Field.)
To date, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Carson can succeed at the MLB level, so I’m really hoping that Feliciano will be healthy, since his low arm angle and off-speed repertoire makes him a true weapon against lefty hitters.
And unlike the outfield situation, the cupboard isn’t entirely bare. We just grabbed Scott Atchison. Would you sign Jon Rauch just to add another knowable quantity to a list of question marks?
I would sign one guy. Maybe Rauch, maybe Wilson, who they are looking at again. But I’m strangely optimistic about our bullpen. I have already commented on how I like Parnell as a breakout guy this year. And all those arms, Ramirez, Meija, Familia, that is the move. McHugh could be a middle-man type of guy. Perhaps in relief he gains a mile or two an hour on his fastball. If we are building from within with pitching, we need to start developing our own relief pitchers. Edgin looked interesting already and Carson has never done much but he is big and he does throw hard. So he is not a total write-off either. Feliciano can get out left-handed hitters if he is healthy. As for Francisco, well, who knows? Why can’t he be decent this year? That is how it works with so many average to below average closers.
I see a potential strength, but you know me, Mr. Rose Colored Glasses.
Have you been sipping brandy again? It’s okay, I understand. And I’m totally with you in terms of the approach. This is the way to go, if not (quite yet) the kind of electric arms we need. We might not see the results right away. Familia is the guy who most excites me. I love his whole demeanor. Mejia wants to start — he hasn’t made that transition mentally — so I think that’s what he’s got to do down in AAA. Not sure why, but I’ve always seen him as trade fodder. Edgin is big and aggressive and, because of that, may be prone to the long ball, but I’m comfortable with him back there learning the ropes. He deserves a good look. If he fails, LHP Jack Leathersich might come quickly. Burke is the type of weird delivery guy that Willie Randolph always liked, a guy who can “bring the funk,” but seriously I’ve never seen him pitch to a batter. Most folks aren’t talking about Elvin Ramirez, but he’s one of the guys who might get hot and grab the opportunity. I didn’t hate what I saw. And that’s the whole deal with this approach, it’s got to be fluid and open-ended. Hopefully 1-2 of these guys establishes themselves moving forward. I’ll tell you what: all these RHP down in Port St. Lucie can’t grow up to be starters with the Mets. While I’m bullish on the bullpen for the long haul, I don’t see it as a strength in 2013.
No, I’m seriously bullish. You mention Ramirez, again, nice arm. Familia, hard thrower. That is the idea, young, cheap, hard-throwing guys. Stock them up and let them loose, an inning at a time. You are gun shy because of all the years of garbage like D.J. Carrasco. We are getting away from that, and it’s going to pay off this year. An early 2013 prediction from me, we will have an above-average bullpen this year.
Pass the Kool-Aid, I’m feeling good today.
A toast, to Frank Francisco and the Mets 2013 bullpen!