By Jesse Disbrow
We’re reviving the POS series, which reviews aspects of the New York Mets ball club and decides where they are a Position Of Strength or Pieces of Sh**. We’re breaking down the positions a little more than we did at the start of the year, with Bullpen and rotation this week, and catcher and closer next week. Each week will have two posts focusing on players or front office staff and even Mets fans themselves. This round we’ll be reviewing the position’s worth during the 2013 campaign and going forward into the 2014 season.
I pulled the middle relievers, which, luckily have stabilized over the course of the season. Some of the names at the beginning of the season are still there, but this roster has undergone a bit of turnover. Closer will be saved for completely different article as there’s a little more depth to go into.
Middle relievers- This started out looking a lot like last year’s group. A whole bunch of guys who look like they should be able to shoulder the load but we’re really able to. Brandon Lyon was solid for a month or so but rapidly deteriorated and was released. David Aardsma was signed by the Mets off the scrap heap to replace him and he’s done better than just replace Lyon. Scott Atchison has been injured but has done well when he’s been healthy. Josh Edgin performed in this role as well as LOOGY before going down with an injury, but he looks like a solid piece for future bullpens. All these other pitchers will likely find employment elsewhere next season, making the Mets look to the farm for arms, or once again pick up a bunch of free agents to see which ones stick.
LOOGY- Left handed out guy- I listed Pedro Feliciano in this role at the start of the year, but it took him well past the All Start break to get here. Still as soon as he was put on the roster, “Perpetual Pedro” was back. Scott Rice also has done very well in his first full season of major league ball. The 30 something rookie has done solidly as a LOOGY and just as well when asked to get more than one out. Rice is among the leaders in appearances this year, which show you how much Terry Collins leans on him (which is too much, but that’s for another article).
Set up men- David Aardsma has slotted into this spot nicely. A former closer, he still has the makeup to preserve a close lead in the late innings, even if his stuff isn’t quite what it used to be. LaTroy Hawkins has also been very dependable, even stepping in as closer now that Bobby Parnell is on the DL. The guys I had listed Lyon and former closer Frank Francisco has simply not worked out. Francisco has pretty much been told to take the whole year off.
Long reliever/spot starter- Jeremy Hefner was never used as a long reliever but was very early pressed into service in the rotation. The team went without a true long reliever as Aaron Laffey was let go due to being terrible. When the Mets were pressed into bringing up Carlos Torres rather than let his contract expire, they were pleasantly surprised with his short and long relief. the same went for Gonzalez Germen who was brought up for a few games as insurance, but stayed up after pitching well and shoring up the long relief spot.
2013 review- This has actually turned into a position of strength. The Mets are no more likely to lose a game due to their bullpen than any other team. In fact, when Parnell was healthy, if the starter went seven, you could almost expect no more runs to score. The only issue isn’t with the actual personnel, but with their use. Collins’ love of match-ups means he’ll use four or five pitchers to get through an inning without a hesitation. He’s got to have more faith that his guys can get outs.
2014 outlook- This is tougher. A lot of the strength of the middle reliever corp is veterans on one year deals. Germen will be back, but I’m not sure he’s ready for a bigger role. Jeurys Familia has been injured all season, but should be able to slot into one of the veteran’s spots. It’s possible the Mets could keep one or both lefties, as Feliciano and Rice were both given a chance by the Mets they may not have gotten elsewhere. Edgin will be back to fill either a LOOGY spot or a general bullpen spot. Torres will likely seek some place to start and Aardsma and Hawkins may find greener pastures (read more money) elsewhere. But the Mets have guys like Jack Leathersich who appear ready as relievers, and also a few starters who won’t be able to make the roster in the rotation. Add in a few veteran where one or two sticks and this could be a position of strength next season.