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Tim Byrdak is Pedro Feliciano

By Mike Silva ~ March 18th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

One of the more infuriating pieces (or lack thereof) reporting this spring has been the Mets competition for a left handed specialist. It actually shouldn’t be a competition (I don’t believe it really is), as Tim Byrdak should be given the same respect and consideration that Pedro Feliciano did throughout his tenure. All spring you hear reporters and blogs talk about how the Mets don’t have an “experienced lefty” out of the bullpen. This is complete nonsense. Even worse, many gave Taylor Tankersley, who was sent to the minors today, the early lead in the competition.

The four lefties competing for a job in the Mets bullpen are Tim Byrdak, Mike O’Connor, Oliver Perez (just recently), and up until this morning Taylor Tankersley. At one point Tankersley was effective in Florida, but he’s pitched 29 innings in the big leagues since 2007. O’ Connor was impressive in Buffalo (2.67 ERA) last year, but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008 when he was still a starting pitcher. Perez is a whole different animal, and even if he sticks around in the bullpen, I can’t see Collins and Alderson relying on him to fill Feliciano’s LOOGY role.

That leaves me with the forgotten man Tim Byrdak. There have been exactly two stories about Byrdak this spring. In one, Dan Warthen said he didn’t see him as a lefty specialist, which from what I understand Terry Collins disagrees with. Obviously Warthen didn’t check out Byrdak’s splits.

For his career lefties have a .202 batting average against and OPS of .677. In comparison, Feliciano has held lefties to a .214 batting average for his career and OPS of .580. Not that much of a difference, but Feliciano is making $4 million pitching in the Bronx, while Byrdak, if he makes the team, will earn about a quarter of that.

Byrdak did suffer from a sports hernia injury last year, but still held lefties to a .213 BAA and .644 OPS. The amazing part is Houston pitched him more against right handed batters than lefties during his tenure. Again, bullpen management is a concept that most big league skippers seem to fail. Put Cecil Cooper and Brad Mills in that category.

The one thing that Feliciano did bring to the table was that he could pitch every day. He pitched in 266 games the last three years under Jerry Manuel. When I asked Byrdak on 1240 AM WGBB if he could accomplish the same, he didn’t seem worried as long as it’s in a LOOGY role. To be fair, the Mets have lacked a second lefty the last couple of seasons which increased Feliciano’s workload to a dangerous level.

One of the more amusing headlines about Byrdak this spring was an MLB.com one that said “Byrdak’s Long Journey Back Continue with Mets.” He pitched 199 games in Houston the last three seasons. Did I miss when the Astros were optioned to the International League? The fact he wasn’t offered a big league deal was more due to the Mets 40 man roster complications than anything.

The Mets do have a situational lefty, maybe one just as good as the guy they let go. I was a huge fan of Pedro Feliciano during his Mets tenure. I think the Yankees upgraded their bullpen when they signed him. It’s very hard to justify paying $4 million dollars to someone who can only get one batter out per ballgame. The Mets did just fine picking up Tim Byrdak, and I suspect there are a number of other big league clubs that wish they had the common sense to offer him a big league deal. Their loss will be the Mets gain this season.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Tim Byrdak is Pedro Feliciano

  1. Stu B

    The Mets released Castillo!

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