Tag: tom martin

Mets Desperate for a LOOGY

Over the winter, the Mets succeeded in overhauling their bullpen. Whether the change of faces will make a difference remains to be seen, but nearly every reliever on the team this time last year has been replaced.

Every one, that is, except for Pedro Feliciano, the Mets’ lone lefty.

Once piece missing from the overhaul, though, was the acquisition of a second lefty, or Lefthanded One Out Guy (LOOGY), to help out Feliciano. An extra lefty is especially necessary in the NL East, where the Braves and Phillies both send up dangerous lefthanded hitters.

Thus far, the Mets have auditioned Jon Switzer, Ron Villone, Casey Fossum, Valerio De Los Santos, Heriberto Rueles, and Tom Martin. Today they begin the tryout of 40-year-old Japanese hurler Ken Takahashi — presumably as a test for the upcoming weekend series against the lefty-heavy Phils. The Mets are desperate to find a somewhat reliable lefthanded option to team with their incumbent LOOGY.

But there’s a small problem: Pedro Feliciano is a shaky option himself.

Over his career, Feliciano has done a good job of retiring the Phillies’ top LH hitters — Ryan Howard has a .190 AVG against him and Chase Utley has hit .174. Feliciano has also done fairly well against switch-hitters Shane Victorino (.071) and Jimmy Rollins (.278). But, the rest of the current Phillies who have faced him before are hitting .500.

That’s not a huge deal, though, since there are a lot of “1-for-2s” there. A larger sample size may change those numbers drastically for the better.

What IS a huge deal is that the 2008 Phillies team hit .370 (10-for-33) against Feliciano, with a 1.040 OPS. Also alarming is the fact that in 2008, the first batter facing Feliciano hit .311 with a .400 OBP. That’s not good news for someone who often comes into a game with runners on base.

Unfortunately, things don’t get better for Feliciano when he starts an inning. Leadoff hitters were 13-for-33 (.333) with a .395 OBP and a .959 OPS.

Thus far this year, Feliciano is doing pretty well, with 10 Ks in 7 innings, and holding opposing batters to a .222 batting average (lefties: .176, righties: .300). He had a similarly strong start last year, posting a 0.97 ERA and 9 Ks in 9 IP in April. After that, though, his performance was inconsistent.

So while some believe the Mets need a secondary lefty for the bullpen, the reality may be that they need a primary lefty.

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Mets Sign Argenis Reyes, Tom Martin

Just in case Alex Cora breaks his leg, the Mets have signed Argenis Reyes as a backup plan. Reyes is expected to begin the season in AAA Buffalo.

Reyes flashed a decent glove, a lot of hustle, and not much else in his 49 games with the Mets in 2008. His most valuable asset — according to the SNY broadcast team — was his being “always in the middle of something.” High praise for a guy who hit .218 with a .259 OBP and .245 SLG (who knew it was mathematically possible to have a slugging percentage lower than your OBP?).

In addition, the team brought back another former Met, LHP Tom Martin. Martin would have been a great addition six years ago, when he had a career year with the Dodgers and had a 3.53 ERA in 80 appearances. He pitched in Flushing in 2001 and posted an eye-popping 10.06 ERA in 14 games. Hopefully he can improve upon that in his next go-around with the club.

Interestingly, Martin — who turns 38 in May — was released by LA during spring training last year and pitched five innings for the Long Island Ducks, striking out six. From my point of view, it’s a so-so signing — more paint on the wall.

Hopefully the signing of Martin will not block the return of Ricardo Rincon, who did an admirable job in 8 appearances last September.

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