Pedro Feliciano Out, LaTroy Hawkins In

In case you missed, the Mets informed Pedro Feliciano that he would not be part of the 25-man roster on Opening Day, and they told LaTroy Hawkins that he would go north come April.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Though “Everyday Pedro” (a.k.a., “Perpetual Pedro”) had very good results this spring, the process was not impressive. When he was appearing in every other game a few years back, Feliciano’s fastball hung around 87-88 MPH, but it rarely reached 84 over the past three weeks — and that’s probably too slow. But, who knows? Jamie Moyer‘s “heater” ranged from 78-82 in the last five years of his career, and Barry Zito rarely breaks 84. There’s hope that Pedro can “regain strength” with a minor-league stint and push the gun a few more miles per hour, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Regardless of whether Pedro Feliciano can still retire big-league hitters, the Mets made the right move. If we accept there’s almost no chance of a postseason appearance in 2013, it makes perfect sense to go forward with Robert Carson and Josh Edgin as the lefthanded relievers in the ‘pen. There’s a decent chance one or both can develop into a reliable LOOGY, and no one will know for sure until they’re thrown into the fire. Personally, I’ve been utterly unimpressed with both youngsters this spring — Edgin’s command has been a glaring issue and Carson has looked far too hittable. But, the Mets gain absolutely nothing by sending them to the minors; if they consistently retire AAA hitters, the Mets have learned nothing about them that they don’t already know.

As for Hawkins, the aforementioned logic seems to go out the window. If we agree the Mets are gunning for 2014, 2015, and beyond, then a 42-year-old situational reliever has little value. I’m guessing he will be counted on to be a “mentor” in the bullpen, offering his sage advice to the youngins’. Well, OK, but then why not make him the bullpen coach? The alternative explanation is that there will be important outs to get in the 6th and 7th innings — outs that could be the difference in a victory for youngsters such as Matt Harvey. Since part of 2013 is building the confidence of Harvey (and, presumably Zack Wheeler), it makes sense to have a reliable veteran arm coming into tough situations at crucial points in a ballgame — and that’s where my laughter / crying begins. Since entering the big leagues in 1995, Hawkins has consistently been inconsistent — both in-season and from season to season. With the right kind of handling, maybe he can repeat his acceptable performance of 2012, when he posted a 3.64 ERA in 48 appearances for the Angels. Better yet, maybe he can pitch as well as he did in 2011, when he had a 2.42 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 52 games with the Brewers.

However, I’m not expecting that kind of production from him, for a few reasons. First off, I don’t know that Terry Collins can manage a bullpen as well as Mike Scioscia — and I believe very strongly that Hawkins’ decent numbers last year had much to do with Scioscia putting him in ideal positions to succeed. But don’t trust my gut — rather, consider this fact: in 26 of Hawkins’ 48 games last year, the Angels were either ahead by 3 or more runs, or behind by 3 or more. According to Baseball-Reference, 35 of his 48 appearances were “low-leverage” situations.

In 2011, he appeared in far more “high-leverage” situations — 25 of 52. And, he pitched very well, and usually tossed a full inning, and it usually was either the 7th or 8th. What jumps out, though, is that he was usually well-rested; he pitched on back-to-back days only 8 times that season, and was given 2 days of rest or more 31 times. Further, there was only one outing in which he threw more than 25 pitches. To give you some perspective, Josh Edgin pitched on back-to-back days 12 times in a half-season under Terry Collins’ guidance; Jon Rauch pitched without rest 16 times, and pitched with one day of rest or less 35 times last year. Based on what I’ve seen from Collins over the past two years, my guess is that if Hawkins pitches effectively out of the gate, he will pitch as often as Collins deems necessary, whenever a game seems within reach, with little attention paid to rest. Remember Pedro Beato‘s rookie year? Yeah. It might work for a few months, but by late June / early July, Hawkins could be toast. Though, I guess it’s better that Collins runs Hawkins to the ground, rather than one of the Mets’ young guns.

Hmm … maybe that’s the real reason the Mets are going north with a 42-year-old reliever: because there are going to be plenty of innings covered by the bullpen, and it’s better to wear out an old dog with no future than abuse a twenty-something starlet such as Jeurys Familia. But really, was LaTroy Hawkins the best they could do?

What’s your thought, on Pedro Feliciano and/or LaTroy Hawkins? Do you agree or disagree with the decisions? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dan B March 26, 2013 at 7:28 am
    When spring training started, I actually had mild hope for the bullpen. They brought in a lot of arms, with a good mix of veterans and youngsters. But they did not add a closer type which pushed Parnell, etc…all up one slot. And now it looks like Santana and Marcum won’t start the season which will hurt the bullpen. So adding Hawkins doesn’t bother me because I see a rrevolving door being added to the bullpen.
  2. Steve March 26, 2013 at 8:20 am
    It’s all about the need for innings from the bull pen. As Collins said, the loss of dickey will be most felt in the added burden on the bullpen. Getting past the seventh will be very rare on this team. A key for how the mets do will be whether Harvey can become more efficient with his pitches and avoid 24 pitch innings like he often had last season and this spring
  3. Dan B March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am
    Of course Harvey has to get past 7 innings every start to save the bullpen while giving up no more then two runs because of the offense while carrying the future of the Mets on his back because the team is putting all it’s eggs in Harvey’s basket. But no pressure on him is implied.
    • argonbunnies March 26, 2013 at 11:45 am
      Yeah. Yikes. I’m already looking forward to the spring 2014 interview where Harvey says, “Last year I tried to do too much, which is why [insert catastrophe here].”
  4. Walnutz15 March 26, 2013 at 10:36 am
    I feel that we have enough guys to take a look at, early – where Feliciano can stay at Triple-A, and build up his arm strength.

    You’ll wind up seeing the same guys, regardless….when Feliciano hits the skids in May, throwing 78mph after being used 3 times in 4 nights….or when he’s shelved all-together.

    Just my $0.02, and I could see either situation happening easily.

    Feliciano has no one else to blame, either….when it comes to skepticism about his stamina these days. He was as adamant as anyone else when it came to the Mets letting him “break his own appearance record” years back.

    Cost him the last 2 seasons, and he’s at a point where they feel they need to see a bit more before carrying him to open the season. I have no issue with that.

    …..don’t kid yourself, either. The Mets are going to need A TON OF WORK from the bullpen to start the season:

    – Harvey looking to find his footing as a Major League starter
    – Hefner at the back-end
    – Marcum and Santana already up in the air as to when they’ll be back.

    I’d much rather cross my fingers with younger options like Edgin, Carson, et al (whether or not they’re better, that’s what they’ll need to prove – but they’re not burned-out) – than be hopeful that Feliciano’s arm will hold up to provide the workload they’re going to need from every arm out in that ‘pen.

    Feliciano should realize this is where the road’s leading better than anyone else.

    FYI: He’s accepted his $100k retention, and will report to Vegas. Good move, unless some iron-clad contender was breaking down the door.

    He and Byrdak will become options to replace whoever falls on their face in their early-on auditions.

    Not like they won’t be needed at some point this season.

    Hawkins will be no better than Miguel Batista this season, if you asked me for my opinion…..”meh”.

  5. argonbunnies March 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm
    Our bullpen won’t be great. All I care about is that it won’t be horrible. Hawkins is not horrible more often than not. That said, he’s also been a bit of a choker, so I doubt his mentoring skills, and I’m with Joe on targeting low leverage situations.

    Edgin’s upside is high enough that I’m happy to see him work through his inconsistency. He’s probably Mike Dunn, but who knows, maybe something clicks and then he can put that nasty stuff where he wants it.

    Carson never dominated minor leaguers enough for me to think he belongs in the majors. Probably best reserved for matching up against guys who just can’t hit lefties at all. Imagine he costs us some games before the org gives up on him. Sorry, Robert.

    I doubt Feliciano’s velocity is relevant if he’s playing LOOGY — see Mike Myers. Building up strength so he can go back to pitching every single day does seem like a good plan to get the most out of him. I’m glad he accepted the AAA assignment.

    I’m looking forward to seeing if Parnell can pump his trade value up to the point where he can be part of a package for an elite player, and I’m looking to see whether Lyon will have one of his sharp seasons or one of his pinata ones. I think those are our most important bullpen stories this year.

    Seeing young guys morph into elite relievers would be great, but Mejia’s a bust, guys like Mateo are too far away, and I really think Familia should be pitching somewhere where he can just worry about refining his command.