2011 Analysis: Tim Byrdak
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.
I don’t even need to use that — on a decent team he would be fine as well. No sending him to the minors. No injuries. Fairly consistent — relievers are known to have good months and bad months; he never was really terrible or anything. And, he now and then showed an ability to do more than being a LOOGY. So, in a long game or such, he could do more.
The team didn’t burst the bank or anything to get him. Having one extra slot either way really wouldn’t matter much, especially since some teams even have an extra pitcher on their staff. This is not just some moment when some faceless “them” are being stupid.