Although many Mets fans were sad to see “Perpetual” Pedro Feliciano leave Flushing, in retrospect, that move couldn’t have turned out better. For one, the five years of abuse the Mets put on Feliciano finally caught up to his arm. Second, as a fourth-place club, an expensive LOOGY really wouldn’t have made a difference. And third, there was Tim Byrdak.
Personally, I was not all that impressed with Byrdak’s 2011 season, but everyone else was so I’ll defer to the masses; perhaps I missed something.
The 37-year-old lefty appeared in 72 games, posting a 3.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and a 2-1 record. His supporters speak excitedly about his 11.4 K/9 rate — which I admit is outstanding. However, he also had a 4.5 BB/9 rate, which is far from outstanding. He was excellent in stranding runners on base — only 16 of 67 inherited runners scored, or 24%.
He was hired to shut down lefthanded hitters, and he did a good job at that, holding them to a .222 batting average and a .604 OPS. However, MLB also allows hitters to bat righthanded if they so desire, and when that opportunity was exercised against Byrdak, the results were a .279 AVG and .857 OPS.
Am I nitpicking by pointing out Byrdak’s propensity to walk hitters and his inadequacy vs. RH hitters? Maybe. But the reason I’m not as high on him as others has more to do with inconsistency through the season. Byrdak had a really, really good run in June and July — ironically, the two months when his strikeout rate was at its lowest. He began the season poorly and finished uneven. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think Byrdak was awful, I just don’t believe he was anything special. But, part of that has to do with my old-school mentality of being opposed to one-out specialists. I believe a team is better served using a precious roster spot with a pitcher who is effective against batters of both sides — particularly on a team that is in rebuilding mode.
In September, Byrdak’s contract was extended through 2012, so there’s at least one of the 25 spots on the roster locked up. I don’t know why a team destined for another non-contending, rebuilding season and in financial straits needs to spend money on a LOOGY, but again, the masses found this to be a “smart” move so I’ll step back and let them enjoy the moment.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.