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Bullpen Bingo



By Howard Megdal ~ March 25th, 2010. Filed under: Howard Megdal.

So we learned yesterday that Jon Niese is all but certain to be the fifth starter. This is a perfectly reasonable outcome- in fact, to hear Sam Page tell it (and when Sam speaks, attention must be paid), Niese is likely to be the second-best starter on the Mets this season. In other words, this is good for the Mets from a 2010 standpoint.

The follow-up question, of course, becomes who will make up the seven pitchers out of the bullpen. So let’s put aside the frustration that I feel over Jenrry Mejia’s development being stunted- and that cannot be overstated- and assume the Mets are making that ridiculous mistake. Figure also that K-Rod, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, Kiko Calero are on the roster. That leaves two spots, and five candidates: Hisanori Takahashi, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green, Fernando Nieve and Nelson Figueroa.

For some reason, Nieve is being talked up by Jerry Manuel for the eighth-inning role, despite a so-so spring, little previous relief experience, and several better candidates already on the team. That says to me, however, that Nieve is likely to also make the team.

So the remaining spot goes to Figueroa, Takahashi, Green or Parnell. Here’s why I think it should go to Figueroa.

Hisanori Takahashi has little relief experience, and as a lefty in the ‘pen, could fool Jerry Manuel into thinking he is a viable alternative against lefties. And he isn’t.  He can also provided needed rotation depth stretched out at Triple-A. That’s where he belongs for now.

Both Sean Green and Bobby Parnell have options. My guess is that Parnell is a solid relief choice, but if Parnell goes to Triple-A, the Mets will keep Figueroa. If Parnell stays at the expense of Figueroa, the Mets likely won’t keep Figueroa. So to have both pitchers in the organization makes far more sense, especially since Parnell demonstrated pretty convincingly last season that he isn’t a viable starting option, and Figueroa demonstrated more convincingly that he is.

That brings us to Sean Green. Everything about how the Mets evaluate Green seems off. Adam Rubin reports that the Mets are less inclined to send Green down due to his salary. This seems odd, since if you’re going to have to pay Sean Green anyway, why not put him in a position to harm the team less?

Then that brings up Green’s new delivery, which involves dropping down considerably more. How this would make Green, who was ineffective against lefties before, a crossover pitcher is an absolute mystery to me. Dropping down more means lefties will be able to better see the ball out of Green’s hand. Ask Joe Smith if his delivery makes life tough for lefties.

And Green’s biggest obstacle to success last year was walks. He walked 4.7 per nine innings. That’s way too high. To give you a sense of how high, Oliver Perez’s career walk rate in 5.0 per nine. And Green doesn’t strike out nearly as many hitters as Perez.

Now, I don’t think spring training stats are worth anything. But clearly, the Mets do. Well, Sean Green has walked 8 in 6 2/3 innings this spring. That’s 10.8 walks per nine innings. Which is pretty high.

So I don’t begin to know what the argument is for keeping Sean Green on the team. It isn’t past performance. It isn’t current performance. And paying him to be terrible, at the expense of a useful pitcher, is an insane misuse of resources.

Here’s hoping the Mets come to their senses. For me, that would mean Figueroa and Parnell, Mejia to Double-A as a starter, Green to Triple-A. But short of actually valuing the long-term development of Mejia over some 2010 middle relief innings, at least keep Figueroa around to help 2010, rather than sacrificing starting depth at the altar of Sean Green’s salary.

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Howard Megdal is the Editor-in-Chief of The Perpetual Post. He covers baseball, basketball and soccer for Capital New York, MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest and has written for ESPN.com as well as numerous other publications. He is the Poet Laureate for SBNation New York. His book about Jewish baseball players, “The Baseball Talmud,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold. His next book, "Taking The Field", is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will publish in May 2011.

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1 Response to Bullpen Bingo

  1. RonOK

    ” …. I don’t begin to know what the argument is for keeping Sean Green on the team. It isn’t past performance. It isn’t current performance. And paying him to be terrible, at the expense of a useful pitcher, is an insane misuse of resources.

    Here’s hoping the Mets come to their senses. For me, that would mean Figueroa and Parnell, Mejia to Double-A as a starter, Green to Triple-A. But short of actually valuing the long-term development of Mejia over some 2010 middle relief innings, at least keep Figueroa around to help 2010, rather than sacrificing starting depth at the altar of Sean Green’s salary ….”

    This is the most sensible thing I have seen written in weeks regarding the Mets bullpen …. a terrific assessment IMO and one I wholeheartedly agree with.

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