Archive: October 13th, 2009

2009 Analysis: Pedro Feliciano

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One of the few bright spots on a disappointing pitching staff, “Perpetual Pedro” set a New York Mets record for appearances with 88, and set career bests in WHIP (1.16), Holds (24), K:BB ratio (3.28), and Walks per 9 IP (2.7).

Manager Jerry Manuel used the 33-year-old lefthander whether he needed to or didn’t, nearly always in “matchup” situations against lefthanded hitters. Feliciano returned that trust by holding 156 lefthanded batters to a .215 batting average and .245 OBP; he struck out 41 of them and walked only 6 — though, he did give up 4 HRs to LH hitters.

Though he was pigeonholed as a LOOGY, Feliciano was passably effective against righthanded batters as well — they hit .264 against him, though with a .365 OBP and .486 SLG. If you pretend the 4 intentional walks to RHs didn’t happen, that OBP drops to a more manageable .329.

Considering his every-other-day use over the past two seasons, it’s hard to imagine a Mets bullpen without Pedro Feliciano. He is clearly a master at retiring lefthanded hitters, but one must wonder if he’d make more of a contribution as a “crossover” reliever — one who faces both lefties and righties. When given the chance to do so by Willie Randolph in 2007, Feliciano responded with a standout season — one in which he held 163 RH batters to a .221 batting average. In 2008, though, righties hit him to the tune of .357, prompting Manuel to make him a specialist.

It’s an interesting dilemma, and I personally wonder if Feliciano’s struggles against RH hitters under Manuel were due to a deficiency in his toolset or overuse. He pitched with no days’ rest 34 times in both 2008 and 2009, but only 23 times in 2007. There’s a possibility that if he were used more judiciously — optimizing a fine balance of sharpness and rest — Feliciano might have the ability to be a solid setup man. We may never know, because the current manager seems set in his thinking.

What do you think? If Pedro Feliciano were used for full innings at a time, but limited to, say, 10-12 games per month instead of 15-18, would he be more valuable to a bullpen? Or is his ability to get that one or two outs 85-90 times a year the best use of his talents?

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2009 Analysis: Elmer Dessens

elmer-dessens-pitchElmer was the glue in the Mets bullpen down the stretch — if “stretch” is what you want to call the agonizing final two months of the season.

Though he didn’t join the club until late June, Dessens managed to find his way into 28 meaningless games, and posted an impressive 1.04 WHIP over 32.2 IP. If nothing else, the 38-year-old righthander from Mexico proved that he can still reach home plate from 60 feet, 6 inches away.

But what to take away from Elmer’s performance? Hard to say, since many of the games he entered were blowouts, and he rarely pitched under duress. Further, his surprisingly good numbers could have been due to the advantage of being “unknown”; although he’s been in MLB since 1996, he pitched in only 4 games last year for the Braves (3 vs. the Nationals, 1 vs. the Mets), 17 games in 2007, and 19 games in the NL in 2006. One must wonder how well he’d pitch after the scouting reports caught up with him (interestingly, one of his worst outings this year came against the Diamondbacks — the same team that lit him up for 7 runs in a 1.1 inning start in September of 2007).

What gives Dessens a ray of hope is the same set of circumstances that pushed him to the bigs in 2009: who else is there? Yes, he’ll be a 39-year-old journeyman with a sketchy past when spring training rolls around, but the Mets don’t have a plethora of pitchers banging down the door to the big leagues. The sheer lack of depth of MLB-ready pitchers of any talent level forces the Mets to consider any and all options. That said, it can’t hurt the Mets to offer Dessens a minor-league contract for 2010, and stick him in AAA. Buffalo will need a mopup man, and the spot can go either to him or a minor league free agent that is cut loose from another organization. Depending on who becomes available this winter, it may make sense to simply keep Dessens around — sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Scary, huh?

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