Closing Time With the Mets: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer


After Jose Valverde’s latest implosion this weekend he was removed from his tenuous hold on the Mets closer’s job. Kyle Farnsworth has been named the current closer. Farnsworth, remember, was originally left off the roster when the Mets broke camp. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he doesn’t finish the season in the role.


Sandy Alderson has done a shaky job as GM for the Mets. On the offensive side, the club doesn’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter or cleanup hitter. We just don’t have them. Defensively, there’s no shortstop (a major oversight that effects our #7 hitter, too), and the bullpen was never addressed. Picking up Valverde and Farnsworth on the cheap seems to be the sum total of “the plan.” Yes, Parnell went down, but coming off serious neck surgery, he was questionable from the outset. Or should have been.


Is there anyone on the current roster who does intrigue you as a potential closer? I wouldn’t mind seeing Carlos Torres get a shot. The most important thing with the closer is to have a guy who can give you a clean inning. Torres is not going to be electric, but I would gladly settle for efficient.


Torres has been our best relief pitcher, I think. I love that he gave the Mets two innings on Easter. At a time when I increasingly prize flexibility in the pen, I’d hate to limit Torres to the closer’s role. Familia is not ready, in my opinion. So I’ll get crazy and say: Dice-K. Thing is, you’d need him to buy into it.

As an aside, this speaks directly to the Ike Davis trade. The minor league pundits might be thrilled that the PTBNL appears to be a 2013 Draft Pick, but it speaks to the failure of turning Ike Davis into any kind of immediate help. The Mets will be getting another guy who might be good down the road in the hazy future, maybe.


A few thoughts on how Davis relates to this. One, you could have non-tendered the guy and signed, say, Latroy Hawkins. Or, if that thought was too painful for Alderson, there are the multiple reports that Sandy would not pull the trigger on a Davis for Zach Britton deal this winter.

So excuse me for not getting excited about a prospect who will maybe, possibly, project to be a Met in 2020.

As to Dice-K, I thought about him for a few seconds myself. But Matsuzaka, even in his prime, had so many problems throwing strikes. When I added that fact to how long every ninth inning would take with the ponderous Daisuke, I quickly forgot about the idea. I don’t know if I can handle that combination, I would need to keep a lot more bourbon in the house.


Another option would be someone currently toiling in Las Vegas. We know Vic Black is there. There are also more starting pitching prospects than we can use. I have already advocated beginning Rafael Montero’s career in the bullpen. He throws strikes.


Look, the Wilpon-Alderson Mets can be shockingly indecisive. Jake deGrom opened eyes this Spring Training, yet he represents the #9 starter on the list (behind Dice-K, Montero, and Syndergaard). Clearly he’s a strong candidate to help the Mets in the pen right now. Why is he working as a starter in Vegas? Shouldn’t he be using this time to adapt to the very real demands of the relief position?  Same craziness with Dice-K. He’s working as a starter in Vegas until the organization tapped him on the shoulder and said, in effect, “You’re our new first baseman.” So far, so good, but it goes against the Boy Scout’s motto.

Montero should be with the Mets, too. I’d love to see him start — instead, Sandy went with Colon — but more than that, I’d love to see him help the Mets in any capacity this year, right now. Because today, we’re not getting anything out of him.

What’s that song by The Grass Roots? “Live for Today.”


One last thought from me is could we think about just scrapping the whole idea? On nights they were pitching well, Familia, Torres, and German have already shown they can go as long as three innings. Why not just forget about it and if someone has a good eighth inning, leave them in the game?


I go back and forth on this one. Intellectually, I can embrace “closer by committee.” Yet practically, it doesn’t seem to work. I am willing to recognize “closer” as a rare breed of cat, even as I suspect that it’s an over-hyped role. Just a touch too much mysticism attached to those last three outs.

Anyway, yes, I’d love to see the Mets go to an 11-man staff. I’d love to see some creative, out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to relievers (more Carlos Torres types, more guys who can give you 2-3 innings on any given day). The trick is, you can’t needlessly burn through 6 relievers in 2.2 IP every close game. It would require bold new thinking. I don’t think we have the right manager for the task.

Black Lab


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  1. How many outs per bases will their closers achieve this year?

    Clearly the method Collins will employ in consult with Alderson is the burn baby burn method. Pay em until they need elbow or shoulder reconstruction.

    Collins doesn’t understand the 90 win challenge if he is going to continue to deploy his bullpen as if everyday is game 7 of the World Series.

  2. Eric says:

    Very off topic: For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about those speidies you both mentioned over the summer. How good are they? Worth the trip?


    • Michael Geus says:

      I love food that is not good for you, and have one every time I am in Binghamton. However, sorry about this Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, I can’t recommend the city overall. But if you are passing through, or going to a B-Mets game (they sell them in the park) I recommend.

    • Oh, yes.

      Well, not really. But if you are THERE, it’s something you have to eat. And you never know, you just might catch a glimpse of the next Allan Dykstra . . .

      Nice thing about being there: Early in the game last year, there was a foul pop-up along the first base line, closer to home than first base. A tough play for the catch, who muffed it. I was like, “Where’s the first baseman? That’s his ball. He needs to take charge there.”

      It was Allan Dykstra and I immediately thought, “No glove.”

  3. I hope IB clicks on that Grass Roots video. The Jimmy Durante intro is classic. The times they were a-changin’.

  4. IB says:

    James – I wish I could, but they block you tube at work. I’ll try to remember when I get home. Rats!

  5. My off-topic comment: Mike is the one who titled this post, and I have to note how much I love that John Lee Hooker tune. In the song, the guy is in the bar and it is closing time. He hasn’t been home in days, because he’s sure that his girl has been cheating on him. He’s afraid to go home. He’s lost his job, can’t pay his rent, it’s all done horribly wrong. There’s only one answer, “I say to my bartender, look man, come down here . . .”


  6. Wow, Jimmy Durante, the Grass Roots, and Rafael Montero, all in the same post! That’s why I keep coming back. :)

  7. Eraff says:

    Suday’s game on the Radio: Howie Rose and “the other guy” claimed that “The Mets wanted Latroy Hawkins back”…..

    I’m just combining the Losing and The Shilling…. we’ve generally been spared the latter.

    Starting Pitching should remain very competitive— not sure why you tap JM when he’s 80 pitches in to a Gem? You need to get LUCKY with any bullpen—- the choices you make can boost your luck or shoot it.

    • Michael Geus says:

      The bullpen in general, other than the first three games, has done fine so far. In particular, though, I see a gaping hole at the back that still needs filling. Farnsworth succeeding at closer would be a nice story, and also a very unlikely one.

    • Come on, he was pulled at 94 pitches after walking two consecutive batters.

      • Eraff says:

        Ok— you’re correct! I was out, following the game on GAME DAY on my phone…. at the time it indicated 78 pitches.

  8. Reese Kaplan says:

    George Thorogood also did a very credible version of this song. I particularly like the story he wraps around the song:

  9. Eraff says:

    Oh Yeah….she was Lovey Dovie!!!

  10. Eraff says:

    Is it true that more pitchers are going down, specifically with UCLS?… it sure looks that way, but wondering if that’s just an impression.

    If true, maybe it’s time to re-think things like “super 2″…after all, pitchers seem to have multiple “expiration dates”: 1st Tommy John; Arbitration Eligible; FA Eligible; “Finished”.

    Maybe the new approach will be “Pitch ‘em if ya Got Em”…screw the Super 2—Get your Healthy innings while they’re available.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I’m a big believer in this. In 2012, thanks to great pitching from Santana and Dickey, the Mets hung around for half a year. Eventually Santana fell apart, as his shoulder gave out, and the team collapsed.

      How could that team have done if Matt Harvey was around all year? It’s very hard to argue he really wasn’t ready. And who knows now if he will ever be the same. We might have wasted a half a year of peak Matt Harvey, at a major league minimum salary.

      Again, take a look at the age of the Braves players. They quickly identify their most talented players and get them up to the major leagues. When I went to Turner Field last year there is a string of Division Championship banners from the last 20 years from one side of the field to the other.

      If I was going to copy a system I would start there. Too bad Michael Lewis has never written a book about them. If he had maybe people would take notice to how they achieve all that success.

    • Yes, we’ve advocated from day one the bullets theory of pitching. No need to waste those bullets in Vegas; they don’t come with an unlimited supply.

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