Tag: relievers

Why Back to Back?

Recent news funneling from Flushing and Port St. Lucie is that both Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz are on the mend and could be back in big league uniforms within the next few weeks.

Wagner is ahead of Putz, as he is throwing in actual games. Minor league games in Florida, but games nonetheless. Meanwhile, Putz is tossing bullpen sessions in New York.

One thing noted on MetsBlog was that Wagner would follow a schedule of pitching in a few games a week, and eventually move to a program that includes back-to-back days. It won’t be until he’s proven that he can throw on consecutive days that the Mets will consider adding him to the active 25-man roster.

My question is, why?

First of all, putting relievers into ballgames on back-to-back days is a large part of the reason these former flamethrowers were injured in the first place. The idea that a guy isn’t “ready” until he throw consecutive days is the typical cement-head logic poisoning pitchers throughout pro ball today. Incredibly, the same people who buy into this nonsense also think a starting pitcher can only throw 100 pitches once every five days. Is it me, or is there something screwy here?

Secondly, why would the Mets NEED Billy Wagner to throw on back-to-back days? How about exercising some restraint, and learning a thing or two about PROPER bullpen management? The Mets carry a dozen arms at any given moment, yet Brian Stokes and Tim Redding can go more than a week without getting into a ballgame. And this is termed “management”?

Here’s an idea: bring both Putz and Wags back when they’re capable of throwing 25 pitches in a true “game” situation, experience no pain, and can come back and do the same thing 48 hours later. Then, you use one of them on one day, and the other on another day. Cap each at one full inning. If you’re really lucky, you have yourself a dominant and fresh 8th-inning setup guy every day — what other MLB team can claim that?

This strategy would not put a strain on the bullpen, because a) you’re having one guy instead of two or three get three big outs; and b) you won’t be using 7 relievers every day.

If Jerry Manuel was using those 11th and 12th guys on the pitching staff, maybe I’d look at things differently. But as long as Manuel has to “find innings” for some pitchers to keep them fresh, it shouldn’t be an issue to have two relievers who can’t go back to back.


Mets Trade Schoeneweis

The New York Mets have traded Scott Schoeneweis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for righthander Connor Robertson.

Good dump here. Scho never fulfilled the promise suggested by Omar Minaya when the Mets signed the NJ native to an ill-advised, three-year contract. More and more I’m liking the flexibility of the Mets’ 2009 bullpen — fluidity, and the ability to move people up and down, is a much better plan than the outdated “roles for the season” strategy that hasn’t worked in Flushing the last two years.

With Scho out, will Omar now go after LOOGY Joe Beimel? Seems to me a possibility. Though, I’d be just as happy signing Ricardo Rincon to a cheap, one-year deal. The Mets need to assign a lefty to a pure LOOGY role — meaning, “Lefthanded One Out GuY”. Enough of the nonsense of trying to extend a LOOGY into a setup man — it doesn’t work.

Robertson, by the way, isn’t chop liver. He’s fairly young (27) and matches a good fastball with a decent cutter and slider. His one big positive is 377 strikeouts in 300 career IP in the minors. There are about a thousand righties in the minors with his repertoire, but not enough of them in the Mets’ system. Add him to the fastball-slider stable where Rocky Cherry resides.


Mets Sign K-Rod!

francisco k-rod rodriguez pitching for the angelsEven the Associated Press is reporting it, so it must be true — the Mets have signed Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to a three-year, $37M+ contract.

Supposedly, the contract is two years guaranteed, with the third year vested based on appearances. Or something. Who cares? The Mets have their 2009 closer, and can now move on to more pressing matters. Such as, who the heck is going to pitch the first eight innings?

K-Rod may be in NYC tomorrow for a physical, with the official announcement to be made soon thereafter.

Nice, fair deal for both sides.

See more news and opinion over at ‘Ropolitans, to whom I owe a hat tip. Also hat tip to Mark Healey of BaseballDigest and GothamBaseball, who was twittering this from Vegas about 20 minutes before it was announced.


K-Rod Deal Nearly Done

Word from Las Vegas is that the Mets and Francisco Rodriguez are about to lock up a 3-year / $37M deal.

The Mets’ original offer was for two years / $24M, but Omar Minaya upped the offer in an attempt to get the deal done as soon as possible. The aggressiveness tells me that Minaya is on the brink of making a few more moves while at the meetings — methinks the Hot Stove is about to heat up.

Obviously, K-Rod will ably fill the Mets’ closer role, and a three-year deal is much easier to swallow than the five years Rodriguez originally demanded. It actually works to K-Rod’s advantage — assuming he stays healthy — because he’ll be just shy of 30 when the contract is done, and hopefully the economy will be in a better state by that time.

By the way, if you “Twitter”, you can watch what’s going on by using the hash tag “bwm”. A number of writers in Vegas are tagging their tweets to keep all the buzz organized. Even if you don’t Twitter, all you have to do is go to search.twitter.com and type in #bwm (or click on this link).


Heilman for Street? Ha!

Joel Sherman’s latest claim is that the Mets offered Aaron Heilman to the Rockies in return for Huston Street, and then refused to make the deal when Colorado insisted on the addition of Pedro Feliciano.

This is so laughable on so many levels I don’t know where to start.

First of all, if the Mets thought another team would think so highly of Aaron Heilman, why didn’t they offer him straight up for Matt Holliday? After all, that’s basically what they were telling the Rockies — since Street was the centerpiece of the Holliday deal with the Athletics. If I was Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, and Omar Minaya proposed Heilman for Street right after I obtained Street for my franchise player, I’d not only tell Omar to stick it, I’d never take another call from him. Yes, I understand that other players were sent to the Rockies, but Street is the guy who has the most value at this moment.

Even sillier is the idea that the Mets would balk at adding Feliciano to such an unrealistic deal. Are you kidding me? Last I checked, there were about a dozen LOOGYs available on the free-agent market, for cheap, who can do what Pedro Lite does.

While it’s true that Huston Street’s stock has plummeted somewhat, he’s still a 24-year-old with almost 100 big-league saves. No one gives away that type of asset for two middle relievers entering their 30s and coming off their worst seasons. Remember what the Mets received in return for the Turk Wendell / Dennis Cook package? Exactly.

Now, if the Mets offered Heilman plus Jon Niese plus another youngster, I might believe it. Or if they offered Heilman and Ryan Church, I’d consider it realistic.

Personally, you know I think Heilman is much better than what he showed in 2008. But his current street value is nowhere near what Sherman is suggesting.


Coco Crisp Traded to Royals

The Red Sox have dealt centerfielder Coco Crisp to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez.

Who knew the Royals had such a surplus of quality bullpen arms?

The trade is the second made by Kansas City this offseason. A few weeks ago they traded reliever Leo Nunez for first baseman Mike Jacobs.

A few things to glean from this transaction, the first being, wow, the cost of a decent, young, middle reliever is a starting centerfielder. I realize Coco Crisp isn’t exactly an All-Star, but centerfielders who can play strong defense and provide some offense are in strong demand right now. Crisp would probably start for at least half the teams in MLB. That said, if the Mets want to trade for a good, young reliever — i.e., Huston Street — they might have to part with someone like Ryan Church.

Second, how many more arms do the Royals have out there in the cornfields? Do they have one to spare for the Mets? It seems strange that a team that won only 75 games last year could have so much quality pitching depth.

By the way, this deal was probably done a few days ago, but the Red Sox wanted to wait until after the AL MVP was announced, so that the attention given to Dustin Pedroia would not be diluted. Further, Peter Gammons hinted at the Red Sox trading Crisp for a middle reliever on Monday, suggesting that Boston wants to move Justin Masterson into the starting rotation.


Affeldt Signed by Giants

The San Francisco Giants have signed Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year, $8M contract. The lefthanded reliever is the first free agent to sign on the open market this winter.

From the Giants’ perspective, the signing is eerily similar to one made by the Mets during the 2006-2007 offseason. First, it’s a LOOGY coming off an unusually successful season with the Cincinnati Reds. Secondly, there are these quotes from the AP report:

Affeldt’s role is yet to be determined, though San Francisco’s brass likes that he can pitch multiple innings. … it doesn’t hurt that he lives in Spokane, Wash., so he’ll be much closer to home

Yeah, that sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? Didn’t the Mets sign a lefthanded starter-turned-reliever, who supposedly could “pitch multiple innings” / fill various roles, and grew up nearby? Oh, and then there is that startlingly expensive contract that draws comparison.

Now, I know there are people who disagree with my parallels of Affeldt to Scott Schoeneweis. Many people think Affeldt would have been a wonderful addition to the Mets’ bullpen, based on his last two seasons. These same people probably think Joe Beimel is a good idea as well.

But what must be considered is that Affeldt’s strong 2007 was only the second time he ever posted an ERA below 4.64 in his career. In fact, his ERA the previous two seasons was 6.20 and 5.26. One could argue that his newfound success was due to some change in his approach, or possibly maturation. More likely, it had to do with the fact he became a strict LOOGY — in 75 games, he spun just 59 innings. In 2008, his workload grew to just over one inning per outing — 74 games, 78 innings. This was due to spinning two innings in a game 13 times during the season. And to his credit, he did for the most part pitch to more than “one guy” in the majority of his appearances. But can he keep it up, and be a legitimate setup guy as some Mets followers have suggested? Maybe, but is that maybe worth two years at $8M? Remember back to that fateful winter, when Scho seemed like such a great signing because he had posted a 3.32 ERA as a LOOGY in 2005, and then was nearly perfect as a closer for the Reds over 16 games in 2006.

Of course, Schoeneweis came to New York as damaged goods, and Affeldt is presumably healthy. Good for him to get that deal, but I for one am glad the Mets didn’t pony up such an arresting commitment.