Monday, January 16, 2012

Will the pen have a 2nd lefty and if so who...

On January 5th Sandy Alderson in a phone conference stated he was still looking for one more bullpen arm (source Metsblog). Since then they have signed Miguel Batista and Fernando Cabrera to minor league deals with invites to spring training.

I thought placing Daniel Herrera on waivers and risking losing him to claim showed that the Mets weren't truly committed to him as anything more then a AAAA player even if the risk was minimum.

Here is what the pen looks like at this time:

Frank Francisco- closer
Jon Rauch- set-up man
Ramon Ramirez- 7th inning
Bobby Parnell- ROOGY
Tim Byrdak- LOOGY
Manny Acosta- middle reliever

That leaves one spot for D.J. Carrasco, Josh Stinson, Daniel Herrera, Pedro Beato, Chuck James, Garrett Olson, Miguel Batista and Fernando Cabrera.

To quickly rule out a few I think Beato and Stinson will start the year in Buffalo along with Olson who will be kept stretched out as a starter.

Cabrera has never matched his AAA production at the major league level, that said; he strikes out righties (MLB- 130 SO in 430 PA, 3.51 SO/BB) as a hard throwing side-armer.  Could he start the year as a ROOGY with either Parnell being used as middle relief or demoted to work on those elusive secondary pitches.

If the team wants a swing man on the roster then Batista would be ideal since he can spot start or work multiple innings in relief, but I think the team would be better off with him in Buffalo and then calling him up in the case of an injury.

Only thing keeping Carrasco around seems to be his 1.2M contract and as they showed last year that only gets you to camp.

Traditional wisdom over the past five years in the NL east has been that you need two lefties, since your pen will more then likely face all-star caliber left handed bats twice in the late innings, once in the sixth when the starter runs out of gas and again around the eighth with the game on the line.

As I said above I thought they had the second lefty slot filled by Herrera but if the designation is any indicator then Herrera is more destine for Buffalo then Queens.  I think the early off-season hype about Robert Carson was more of a diversion then anything else, it just doesn't seem feasible for a guy struggling in AA to make the jump.

That leaves Chuck James as the only alternative currently signed by the Mets, the 30 y/o lefty signed a minor league deal with an invite earlier this off-season. What makes James appealing is that he could spot start, relieve for multiple innings or get a lefty out.  What makes him un-appealing is that he hasn't done it on the major league level successfully since 2007, he did appear in the league in 2008 but that was shortened by injuries.

After losing all of 2009 he pitched in the Nats minors in 2010 posting a 1.59 ERA as a reliever in AA and a 3.92 as a starter in AAA.  Last year he spent most of the year with the Twins AAA affiliate posting a 2.30 ERA in 38 relief appearances (62 innings), 14 game finishes and 1 save.  He then came up for eight relief appearances with the Twins but posted a 6.10 ERA.  In reading several articles from Minnesota they were never committed to James, he was strictly depth who was going down again no matter what he did.  His demise was a four run, one inning outing against Texas, prior to that he gave up three runs in seven games.

If the Mets chose to sign a lefty to a minor league deal here is what's left on the market...

Mike Gonzalez
Damaso Marte
Trever Miller
Arthur Rhodes
Brian Tallet