We are running a FanPost Swag Contest, which calls on you to submit your ideas for how best to fix the Mets' bullpen, which I'm told has been inadequate of late though that may just be anecdotal evidence. The contest runs through Friday, and here is one of the better entries so far. --Eric
I'm going to make one further assumption beyond those specified by Eric, which is that I'm free to make changes as I see fit without having to answer to asinine broadcasters and WFAN callers. This assumption is important because one of the central elements of my plan is unconventional.
That plan: use Pedro as a relief ace. I haven't been able to find a great definition for those unfamiliar with the concept, but to sum up, a relief ace is a pitcher who's used out of the bullpen in high leverage situations (close games, great hitters up, runners on base) as early as the seventh inning; it's been advocated by Bill James as the optimal role for the best pitcher out of your bullpen. Realistically, though Wagner is that guy (i.e., the best relief pitcher on the team) once he's healthy, he seems to pitch less effectively in non-save situations, so I'm going to keep him in the traditional closer role.
As for why I'd like to use Pedro in such a role, as much time as he's missed, and at his age, I don't think he's got the longevity to be a starter this season. Maybe he'll be able to do so in the future, but the Mets are in a tight race and don't have the luxury of letting Pedro work himself into shape. Lack of longevity from our starters has led to the bullpen being overworked, and Pedro is part of that problem. Instead, he's going to be part of the solution. Looking at this quantitatively: In innings 1-3, hitters are OPSing .756 against Pedro. That's pretty good. In innings 4-6, they're OPSing .998. That's pretty bad. So to conclude: use Pedro in situations that play to his strengths as they've been this year.
To fill the empty spot in the rotation, call up Jon Niese. He was very good in Binghamton, and his first three starts in AAA were strong. (19 IP, 5 BB, 14 K, 2.37 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) Let's see what he's got. Until Maine is ready, your rotation is Santana - Perez - Pelfrey - Stokes (he was good enough to get another start) - Niese. Once Maine is back, he replaces whichever of Stokes and Niese has been less effective.
Niese takes Carlos Muniz' spot on the roster. He's overmatched at this level. Until Wagner is back, the remainder of the bullpen is Heilman, Sanchez, Feliciano, Schoeneweis, Smith, Kunz. This is obviously the same collection of garbage we've had in the recent past, but hopefully with a younger rotation they get a little less work, and Pedro takes many high-pressure situations off their hands. By lightening the load in this manner (which should hopefully help the performance all around), I'm going to use Feliciano and Smith for lefty-righty matchups in the 9th inning. I'm as disappointed as the rest of you that Feliciano hasn't been effective against righties like he was last year, but he's still pretty good against lefties, and Smith is the flip side of that. Once Wagner is healthy, DFA whoever has been performing the worst.
Santana - Perez - Pelfrey - Stokes - Niese
Pedro (Ace) - Smith (RHCL) - Feliciano (LHCL) - Kunz - Heilman - Schoeneweis - Sanchez
Santana - Perez - Pelfrey - Maine - Stokes/Niese
Pedro (Ace) - Wagner (CL) - five of (Smith, Feliciano, Kunz, Heilman, Schoeneweis, Sanchez)
Postscript: This plan hasn't included any players obtained from other teams, not because I wouldn't pursue such angles, but simply because I'm not really sure what's out there. If I could pick up a reliever from a team that's out of contention without giving up too much, I'd do so. If we wanted another lefty, I'd look at Tim Byrdak from Houston or Brian Tallet from Baltimore; from the right, Cincinnati is dumping and David Weathers is having a good year, and would probably be available as a rental.