FanPost

2012 Closer Compendium

According to the voting in the poll I put together last week, 41% of the 77 Amazin' Avenue regulars and lurkers were in favor of signing a Free Agent this winter to bolster the bullpen and serve as the team closer. Surprisingly, Sandy Alderson said during his interview by Gary and Ron during Tuesday night's Mets-Cardinals game that it was looking more and more like the 2012 closer was not within the organization currently, meaning that the Mets would be obtaining him via trade or free agency. When asked by Gary Cohen, Alderson responded, "I'm not sure that our closer is in the organization at this time. It's possible, but I'm not sure that it is."

While we at AA know how things like "a closer's mentality" is more or less fake, and that the position of closer itself is not important enough to warrant paying him $17 million dollars, Sandy has a good point when he says, "I think [closer] is a spot where a team has to have some confidence that those saves are going to be converted, routinely and at a certain level. There is a difference between blowing a save every once and a while and blowing them quite often. I think that can have a very negative effect in a cumulative sense." On Tuesday, he would go on to clarify, "The closer role is too important, and that's not to say you have to overspend on the closer role, but I think you've got to have somebody that you can reasonably depend on. It just takes too much out of a club to lose games late consistently. A blown save is a blown save, everybody has them, but it's one thing to blow ten percent. It's another thing to blow fifty percent...At some point, the blown saves accumulate and have at least a temporary effect on morale, including mine, by the way."

Trades are unpredictable things, so I'm not going to even bother speculating what teams might be making their closers, or effective relief pitchers in high-leverage situations available, and what players the Mets are making available. With the crunch that soon will be coming fitting all of the chips that the Mets currently have and want to continue to keep on the 40-Man Roster, leaving others exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, it is feasible that Alderson might flip any number of prospects who aren't protected before they're possibly selected by another team. I am not going to muse on that, because, again, there are so many variables in play that it makes it almost impossible to predict anything with any kind of authoritative certainty- what prospects are protected, what prospects are left exposed, what teams are willing to give up their closers/effective high-leverage situational pitchers, what the Mets are willing to give up, and so on.

Free agents are a much more simple science. Looking at the list of established closers, former closers, and set-up men, there are a few intriguing options. Let's take a look.

Heath Bell

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

42/47 + 0

33/8

2.52

3.30

11.6

3.12

0.59

.218

.216

0.5

A

Heath Bell was signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent- look how far he came. He made his Major League debut in 2004, but was shuffled up and down between Queens and AAA-Norfolk for the next few years, until 2007. That previous winter, Bell was traded (along with Royce Ring) for Ben someone and Jon whoever. In San Diego, he replaced Scott Linebrink as Trevor Hoffman's set-up man. In 2009, Hoffman left the Padres, and Bell was promoted from set-up man to closer. He accepted the challenge, and has thrived in the role, posting 40+ saves for the past three years, with fairly good peripherals.

My verdict: I'd love to have Heath Bell as our closer. He's a good pitcher, and seems like a cool guy. Unfortunately, Omar Minaya traded him away for peanuts without really giving him the opportunity to stick in the bullpen. The past is the past, though, and nothing can be done about it. Bell is a Type A free agent, and is coming off of a decent season, looking at the mainstream stats. As a result, he'd cost more than the team should be giving to a closer.

  Jonathan Broxton

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

7/8 + 0

5/3

5.68

5.62

7.11

6.39

1.42

.283

.317

-0.3

None

Jonathan Broxton is a big man, who throws very hard. That sums him up in a nutshell. He made his fulltime MLB debut in 2006, and served as a formidable set-up closer for Takashi Saito. In 2008, Saito went on the DL, and Broxton inherited the closer role, and excelled, posting a 2.2 season that year, and a 2.9 WAR season in 2009. His 2010 began as good, but struggled in the second half of the season, to the point that he was removed from the closer role. When 2011 began, Broxton notched a few saves, but was very ineffective. By May, was placed on the DL, admitting that he had been pitching in pain. After a few rehab attempts, he was shut down for the season, and underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery.

My verdict: Broxton is the most attractive reasonably obtainable closer on the market. I've liked Broxton for a long time. He's coming off a year where he was pretty ineffective, and will be recovering from his surgery, so his bargaining power will be that much more diminished. The biggest question will be whether or not his lower than career norms K/9 rate, and higher than career norms BB/9 rate and HR/9 rate were due to his elbow problems, or if they're indicative of some other problems, as evidenced by his weak finish to 2010. Because Broxton will be turning only 28 in the middle of next season, I wouldn't mind signing him to an extended (three years) deal.

Matt Capps

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

15/24 + 7

24/14

4.34

4.76

4.57

1.68

1.40

.257

.262

-0.4

A

Matt Capps was drafted in 2002 by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a starting pitcher, but he never had success past A-ball. He was converted into a relief pitcher in 2005, and it was like night and day. Capps had a cup of coffee at the end of the year, and became a fulltime Major League reliever in 2006, where he served as set-up man. In 2007, he was transitioned into the closer's role. In 2008, he started the season strong, but was put on the DL for nearly two months because of arm soreness. When he returned, he wasn't as effective as he had been. He had another down year in 2009, and was non-tendered by the Pirates as a result. The Washington Nationals took a gamble on him in 2010, and it paid off, as Capps proved highly effective during his time with them, making the All-Star Game. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline, where he became their closer. When 2011 began, Joe Nathan was the closer, but Capps once more assumed the position after Nathan proved ineffective for a stretch. Late in the year, Nathan took over, and Capps was relegated to setting him up once more.

My verdict: Capps doesn't have the best numbers- his K/9 rate is pretty bad for a late-innings reliever- but his season wasn't as bad as his numbers show, because of the amount of home runs he gave up jacked everything else up. When he's on, Capps is a decent pitcher, worth a win or two above replacement level. When he's not, Capps is a shade under replacement level. He has no real positive track record, and isn't a marquee name, so he should come cheaply, in terms of both years and dollars. At the same time, though, Capps isn't any better or worse than Bobby Parnell, or Manny Acosta- if we don't trust them, why go out and get Capps?

Francisco Cordero

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

36/42

32/6

2.43

3.84

5.40

2.30

0.81

.195

.210

0.3

A

 

Francisco Cordero- who I often confuse with Chad Cordero- debuted in 1999 with the Detroit Tigers, but was shortly traded to the Texas Rangers thereafter. It was in their bullpen that he established himself as one of the premium closers of the decade. From 2004 until the present, he has never saved fewer than 22 games. In 2004, he notched a career high 49 saves, and was worth 3.1 WAR.

My verdict: Cordero is a Type A free agent, so that is strike one right there. He'll be turning 37 at the start of the 2012 season, so that is strike two. His K/9 rate was pretty bad in 2011, and has been trending downward for some time now, so that's strike three. He had a minuscule .210 BABIP for the season- if it had been higher, Cordero would have looked a lot worse. Even if the Mets had the money to spend, I wouldn't go after Cordero.

Octavio Dotel

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

3/3 + 9

15/5

3.58

3.44

10.19

3.04

1.07

.184

.230

0.7

B

Octavio was signed by the Mets after he graduated high school, as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic way back in 1993. He spent the next six years in the Mets' Minor League system, and debuted in 1999, to mixed results. That winter, he was traded, along with Roger Cedeno and Kyle Kessel, for Mike Hampton and Derek Bell. With the Astros, Dotel doubled as a starting pitcher and relief pitcher, before being fully converted into the bullpen in 2002. In June 2004, Dotel was traded to the Oakland A's. Although he notched a career high 36 saves (22 with Oakland and 14 with Houston), he would never be as successful a pitcher as he was in years previous. Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his 2005 season, and Dotel would never fully recover. Before the surgery, he once was a fairly successful late-inning reliever, worth roughly 1.5 to 3.0 wins over replacement. After the surgery, he bounced around from team to team, tying a Major League record for most teams played for by a pitcher, never once worth more than 0.8 WAR.

My verdict: Dotel might be a fit. He made $2.75 million dollars in 2011, and has an option for 2012 for $3.5 million (with a $750,000 buy out) that the Cardinals probably are not going to exercise, so if he is signed by the Mets, he'd be pretty cheap. Surprisingly, despite his relatively advanced age (He is 37, and will turn 38 next season), the fact that he's making so little money (as opposed to some other relief pitchers out there), and the fact that he's been traded around the league, playing on five different teams in the past two years, Dotel hasn't been half bad. He's been healthy and has played full seasons for the past four years now. His fastball averaged 91.4 MPH for the year, and ranked 6.8 runs above average by Fangraphs.

Kyle Farnsworth

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

24/30 + 0

20/9

2.32

3.28

7.45

1.66

0.80

.218

.256

0.8

A

Kyle Farnsworth was drafted by the Cubs all the way back in 1994, debuted with them in 1999, and played with them until 2004. From there, Farnsworth was kicked around the MLB, spending time with the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, Yankees, Kansas City Royals, and most recently, the Tampa Bay Rays. During that time, he's had years where he was effective, and years where he wasn't. His best year was 2005, a year he spent with the Tigers and Braves, where he struck out 11.19 batters per nine innings, and had a 2.19 ERA, in 70 innings. He is currently coming off of his best season, in terms of saves- before 2011, he had never saved more than 16 saves (which came in that 2005 season).

My verdict: Kyle Farnsworth is a crazy guy, that much I can say for certain. I'm not sure how I would feel about him closing for the Mets, though. He had a fairly good season last year, so he will probably get more than he's actually worth, in either dollars or years. All in all, as with other potential candidates, I don't think that Farnsworth brings anything that in-house candidates don't already bring, and I wouldn't feel any more comfortable if they were closing, or he closing.

Frank Francisco

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

16/20 + 2

18/7

3.62

3.85

9.42

3.26

1.27

.245

.299

0.4

B

Frank Francisco was originally drafted by the Red Sox, but never actually played for them. He was traded to the White Sox in 2002, while still a Minor Leaguer. He never actually played for the White Sox either, as he was traded to Texas a year later. He made his MLB debut with the Rangers in 2004, and has been a solid bullpen piece ever since. That year was one Francisco wishes he would do over, I bet. On September 13th, he snapped, and attacked a fan who had been heckling teammate Doug Brocail the entire game, using racial slurs and mocking his recently stillborn child. Francisco threw a folding chair at the fan, and broke the nose of that man's wife. Francisco was suspended for the remainder of the year, and then missed all of 2005 because of Tommy John surgery. He picked up his first saves in 2008, after CJ Wilson was sent to the DL, and became the Rangers' fulltime closer in 2009. That would only last a single season, though, as his own ineffectiveness coupled with the emergence of Neftali Feliz caused his demotion. Francisco was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, and had another lackluster year.

My verdict: I wouldn't mind Frank Francisco. He'll be 32 for most of the 2012 season, and that's not that old. He has never put up flashy numbers, like saves, or ERA, so his price isn't going to be very high to begin with. His peripherals are all good, even if they were down slightly in 2011. His worst problem- historically- has been all the home runs he's allowed. Citi Field would be a lot more accommodating than Ranger's Ballpark at Arlington and the Rogers Center.

Mike Gonzalez

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

1/2 + 8

11/6

4.30

4.17

8.60

3.61

1.20

.241

.288

0.2

None

Mike Gonzalez and his strange rocking debuted in 2004 as a fulltime reliever- a year that was, coincidentally, his best year on the books so far. He was traded to the Braves in 2007, and was a decent piece out of their bullpen, along with Rafael Soriano. In 2010, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent. His starting out the season on the Disabled List was a sign of things to come, as Gonzalez wasn't all that impressive with the O's. In August 2011, he was traded to the Texas Rangers in an attempt to further fortify their bullpen.

My verdict: If the price was low enough, I'd take a gamble on Gonzalez- and, based on his fairly pedestrian numbers the last two years, I don't think there are going to be many teams bidding on his services, jacking up his price.

Jason Isringhausen

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings ERA

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

7/13 + 19

23/7

4.05

4.41

8.49

4.63

1.16

.206

.240

-0.4

None

Drafted way back in 1991, Izzy was part of the ill-fated trio of Mets prospects dubbed ‘Generation K'. He debuted in 1995, but missed most of 1997 and all of 1998 because of various problems, including a broken wrist, three operations on his pitching arm, and, perhaps the scariest of them all, tuberculosis. He returned in 1999 and was used out of the bullpen sparingly, before being traded to Oakland. As Bobby Valentine put it, using Isringhausen out of the bullpen was like using "an Indy car as a taxi". In Oakland, Izzy blossomed into an effective late-innings reliever. He signed with the Cardinals in 2002 and had a few up-and-down years there. He injured his hip in 2006, resulting in rookie Adam Wainwright temporarily assuming closer duties- something that we Mets fans will never forget. He returned the following season, but in May 2008, because of ineffectiveness, Izzy was removed from his role as closer. He was reinstated two months later, only to prematurely end his season because of injury. In 2009, he latched on with the Tampa Bay Rays, but tore a ligament in his itching elbow that June, and underwent Tommy John surgery. In 2010, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds, but only threw 8 innings for the year. That following winter, he signed a Minor League contract with the Mets.

My verdict: He came into Spring Training with nothing to lose, determined to either make the team, or hang up the spikes. Improbably, he made the team, and actually occupied an integral part of it, as K-Rod's set-up man before the All-Star Break, and as the closer after it, allowing him to notch save number 300 along the way. As his -0.4 WAR attests to, it's been walking on eggshells most of the way, though. I, personally, think Jason should call it a career- I'm also a sucker for poetic endings, though. Jason might have pitched his way into the bullpen of a team for 2012, but I don't think that the Mets are a good fit.

Brad Lidge

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

1/1 + 7

7/4

1.56

2.73

11.42

6.23

0.00

.227

.341

0.3

B

Brad Lidge was the 17th overall draft pick in the 1998 draft, selected by the Houston Astros. Over the course of his Minor League career, various injuries derailed his development and threatened to end his career. In the end, he prevailed however, and debuted in the big leagues in 2002 for a cup of coffee, and became a fulltime member of the Astros' bullpen in 2003. His 2004 season was his best to date- he struck out a National League record (for a reliever) 151 batters- swinging and missing at 42% of his pitches- and was worth nearly 4.0 WAR out of the bullpen. Lidge had another good year in 2005, but his success was overshadowed by an Albert Pujols homerun in the NLCS that some say broke him, as evidenced by his relatively poor 2006 and 2007 seasons. At the end of the 2007 season, the Astros traded Lidge to Philadelphia, and in 2008, Lidge found his mojo again, converting 41 of 41 saves, and being worth 2.2 WAR. His next two years in Philadelphia would not be as productive, though. Various injuries would sideline him during large chunks of the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons.

My verdict: I don't like Brad Lidge for a two reasons. First, he's a former Philly, but secondly, he's a big injury risk. His entire career, he's had all kinds of injuries to varying severity. He'll be 35 next season, and will be coming off a season where he sat out most of the year. That aside, though, Lidge still throws hard, and still gets the strikeouts. His BB/9 rate is a little elevated, but his high K/9 rate and low HR/9 makes up for it. He will be a Type B Free Agent, so the Mets won't be giving up a better pick for him. As a result, though I don't like him, Lidge might be an effective closer, if signed.

Mike MacDougal

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

1/2 + 13

21/6

2.11

3.96

6.51

4.55

0.49

.256

.304

0.0

None

Mike MacDougal was signed by the Royals in 1999 as their first draft pick. He seemed to have a very bright future ahead of him, but various injuries and maladies derailed his stardom. In 2001, he debuted in the MLB, but his season was cut short when Carlos Beltran almost killed him- Beltran's bat came loose out of his hands, and went flying through the air, hitting MacDougal in the head. In 2004, a flu ravaged his body, causing him to lose a great deal of weight, and a few miles per hour on his fastball- which had been clocked as high as 103 MPH until that point. In 2006, a variety of issues limited him to just 29 innings for the entire season. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox that season, and pitched effectively for them in his 25 appearances that year. His 2007 season was poor, however, causing the White Sox to outright release him, after signing him to a three-year deal only a few months beforehand. He next latched on to the Nationals, where he acted as closer for the 2009 season, but was non-tendered at the end of the season. In 2010, he signed with the Cardinals, and in 2011, with the Dodgers- both seasons, he pitched in a forgettable manner at replacement level.

My verdict: MacDugal doesn't strike out enough batters, and walks too many for me to feel confident with him as a late-inning reliever entrusted to pitch out of tight spots, and in high leverage situations. He wasn't half bad with the Royals when he was closing games with them, but he doesn't strike out enough batters anymore, nor does he throw as hard. He'd be cheap, yes, but he wouldn't particularly be bringing anything that the team could accomplish using in-house options.

Ryan Madson

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

31/33 + 3

34/4

8.90

2.50

0.31

.235

.310

1.6

A

Drafted in the 9th round of the 1998 Draft by the Phillies, the team knew they were high on him, but weren't sure how to use him. He spent his first couple of years as a reliever, but was converted into a starter in 2006- only to be sent back to the bullpen afterwards. Madson hit his stride in 2008, serving as Brad Lidge's set-up man. Starting in 2009, every time Brad Lidge has been placed on the DL with the Phillies, Madson was one of a handful of pitchers to take over closing duties. In 2011, he served as closer for most of the season, something that no doubt will help his FA status.

My verdict: He's a former Philly, so no thank you. That aside, Madson isn't that great, and will be a Type A draft pick. There's no way I'd be willing to give up an early draft pick for Ryan Madson. It's not that he sucks, but I'd rather have the potential of that early draft pick.

Joe Nathan

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

14/17 + 8

16/7

4.64

4.36

8.65

2.74

1.48

.212

.239

0.0

A

Born in Texas, Joe Nathan moved to New York and went to high school and college here, where he played at SUNY Stony Brook. He was drafted by the Giants, and debuted with them in 1999 as a starting pitcher who wasn't all that impressive. He missed most of 2002 because of arthroscopic surgery, but returned in 2003, as a reliever. That winter, Brian Sabean traded Nathan away in what is his marquee trade- him, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano were sent to Minnesota in exchange for A.J. Pierzynski and cash. In Minnesota, he would go on to become a dominant closer, appearing in four All-Star Games from 2004 to 2009, and notching over 250 saves. In March 2010, he tore his UCL and sat out the year because of Tommy John surgery. He returned in time for the 2011 season, but started out ineffective, and was replaced as closer by Matt Capps- a role Nathan would reclaim later in the year after Capps' own ineffectiveness. In August, he notched his 255th save, passing former Met Rick Aquilera for most all-time saves for a Minnesota Twin. That said, his season was still poor, looking at the numbers.

My verdict: I'm not sure if the Twins will be brining Nathan back. He is owed $12.5 million for 2012 if they activate his option, and if they don't, will have to buy it out for $2 million. A very likely scenario is that they do not activate it, and then try to renegotiate a new contract. Nathan will be at the bargaining table from a point of weakness, as he will be 38 next season, missed all of 2010 because of Tommy John, and didn't have a very good season. He would be worth looking at, if the price/time aren't that bad. He got completely victimized by the long ball, accounting for his bad stats, but his peripherals weren't that bad.

Vicente Padilla

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

3/3 + 5

4/1

4.15

2.68

9.35

5.19

0.00

.226

.318

0.2

Vicente Padilla debuted in the MLB way back in 1999 with the Diamondbacks. In the interim between then and now, he has bounced around the MLB, playing with the Phillies, Rangers, and Dodgers for varying amounts of time. He was most successful in the years he spent with the Phillies. Having been a starter his entire career, the Dodgers converted Vicente Padilla to be a fulltime reliever in 2011 because of injuries he sustained in Spring Training. When Jonathan Broxton went on the DL, Padilla became the team's new closer. It wouldn't last very long, though, since he himself went on the DL in May because of forearm problems, and later, neck problems that required vertebrae fusion surgery.

My verdict: Padilla is coming off of surgery. As a reliever, he didn't see much action, and when he did pitch, he wasn't very effective. While he'll certainly be cheap to sign, only intriguing thing about Padilla is that he can both start and relieve, since he was still a fulltime starter in 2010. All in all, though, I don't think Padilla is a long-term or short-term fix.

Jonathan Papelbon

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

30/32 + 0

30/3

2/69

1.63

12.08

1.49

0.45

.200

.298

2.6

A

Jonathan Papelbon was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 draft, and debuted for the Red Sox in 2005. In 2006, after he experienced shoulder troubles, the starting pitching prospect was converted into a reliever. He would go on to pitch out of the bullpen as the team's closer for the rest of the year, and was highly successful, being worth 3.2 wins over replacement. For the next three years, he would continue to be highly successful, being worth 2.2, 3.0, and 2.0 WAR respectively. In 2010, he had his worst season- which still was still fairly good for a relief pitcher- because of career highs in BB/9, HR/9, and HR/FB. Papelbon would bounce back in 2011, striking out nearly two more batters and walking fewer batters than he had the previous year, all while keeping his HR/9 rate at a career low. With Daniel Bard already being under team control, it is likely that 2011 is the last season Papelbon is with the Red Sox.

My verdict: Papelbon is kind of a douche. That aside, he's a marquee name, is relatively young as compared to some of the other people on this list, and isn't that bad to begin with, and is coming off of a very good season. All of that adds up to expenses that the Mets either don't have, or would be better off putting elsewhere. Plus, Papelbon is kind of a douche.

Chad Qualls

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

0/4 + 21

22/13

3.24

3.68

5.23

2.24

0.75

.253

.279

0.0

None

Chad Qualls debuted with the Astros in 2004, and, starting in 2005, served as the team's primary set-up man. He posted three consecutive seasons in Houston with 20+ holds and 20+ shutdown innings. At the end of the 2007 season, he was traded to Arizona, where he posted another strong season as a set-up man. At the end of the 2008, he took over as closer from the struggling Brandon Lyon, and was promoted to fulltime Diamondback closer in 2009. He was effective in the role, but had his season ended prematurely when he suffered a patellar dislocation that required surgery. He returned in 2010, but was nowhere near as effective as he had been, prompting the Diamondbacks to trade him to Tampa Bay, for a player to be named later. A free agent at the end of the year, Qualls signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres, where he was once again used as a set-up man, particularly after fellow Mike Adams was traded to the Texas Rangers.

My verdict: Outside of two good seasons in 2008 and 2009, Chad Qualls hasn't been a particularly standout pitcher. He's been more valuable than replacement level his entire career, but outside of that, there's not much else that can be said of his career. His K/9 rate has always been low for an effective reliever, at a career mark of 7.07/9, but at least that is mitigated by the fact he walks very few, with a career 2.46 BB/9 rate. Qualls probably will be relatively cheap, and isn't a bad pitcher, but Bobby Parnell, or Manny Acosta have better numbers, would be better options for the position, and are already in-house.

Jon Rauch

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

11/16 + 4

19/11

4.83

5.25

6.23

2.42

1.90

.267

.276

-0.6

B

Jon Rauch is an imposing man. He stands at 6'11", the tallest pitcher in MLB history, and is covered in tattoos up and down his arms and neck. If he pitched half as good as he looks like he might, Rauch would have an impressive resume. But, up until this point, he hasn't. He debuted in 2002, but didn't really become an established Major Leaguer until 2006, with the Nationals. He would spend the next two years setting-up Nationals closer Chad Cordero, before taking over the role himself in 2008. He wouldn't last long as Nationals closer, as he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks that July, and took over as closer there. A year later, he was traded from Arizona to Minnesota, for former Mets prospect Kevin Mulvey. In 2010, Rauch started out the year as Twins closer, replacing the injured Joe Nathan. Later that year, the Twins acquired Matt Capps, and as a result, Rauch was shifted into a set-up role. At the end of the year, the big man became a free agent, and he signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, with a 2012 option. Rauch was part of the revolving door of closers and set-up men that the team used throughout the year. Rauch's season prematurely ended, though, when he was rushed to the hospital to receive an emergency appendectomy in mid-August.

My verdict: I like Jon Rauch in theory. He looks like he could be a really good pitcher. He has the ‘it' factor. Unfortunately for him, there's more to being an effective pitcher than just that. Rauch had his worst MLB season in 2011, so it's very possible the Blue Jays do not pick up his option. He was particularly victimized by the long ball, which inflated his ERA, FIP, and made his WAR worse as a result, but his K/9 rate was down, and might be a red flag. I don't have any more confidence in Rauch than I would in Bobby Parnell, or Manny Acosta, so a result, I see no reason to spend money to bring him into the organization. He isn't owed very much money if the Blue Jays want to activate his option, and I think they probably will.

Fernando Rodney

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

3/7 + 10

12/9

4.50

4.71

7.31

7.88

0.28

.218

.272

-0.1

None

Fernando Rodney debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 2002, but didn't become a mainstay in their bullpen until 2005, when he became closer after Troy Percival was injured and Kyle Farnsworth was traded. He was designated set-up man in 2006, and along with Joel Zumaya, was one of three Detroit pitchers who regularly threw 100+ MPH with ease (Justin Verlander was the other). After starting the 2008 season on the DL, Rodney was once again made Tiger's closer, replacing Todd Jones, who himself replaced him in 2006. At the end of the 2009 season, Rodney became a free agent, and signed with the Angels. As he had with the Tigers, he flip-flopped between set-up man and closer in 2010. By 2011 though, Jordan Walden had arrived, and was appointed full-time closer, leaving Rodney a set-up man once more. He missed time with a back injury, and was ineffective throughout the year, garnering the ire of Angels fans and management.

My verdict: Though his fastball has a lot of life, Rodney never really was that good, even when he was on the Tigers. His strikeout rate is high enough for him to be effective, but his extremely high walk rate negates it. Just this past season, his BB/9 rate was higher than his K/9 rate! His career 1.69 K/BB ratio is not very comforting. He will likely sign cheaply, but if he's not effective, what's the point? Fernando Rodney reminds me a lot of Ryota Igarashi, and who wants to deal with another season of that?

Francisco Rodriguez

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings ERA

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

23/29 + 15

36/8

2.75

2.77

9.83

3.28

0.52

.243

.324

1.3

A

The Mets had an established closer in Frankie until he was traded shortly after the 2011 All-Star Break, in a move to prevent the team from having to be beholden to the crippling vesting option that Omar Minaya allowed to be placed into his contract. Up until that point, K-Rod had a roller coaster of a tenure with the team. Generally speaking, he was a good relief pitcher, but was walking on eggshells with Rolaids-inducing regularity, constantly walking batters and putting men on base only to strike out others to end the ballgame. Off the field, there was plenty of controversy surrounding him, whether it be the fight he almost got into with Brian Bruney in 2009, or the actual fight that he got into with his father-in-law at Citi Field in 2010, causing him to be suspended, and eventually placed on the Disabled List with an injured hand.

My verdict: That bridge is already burned. I doubt Rodriguez wants to come back to the organization, and I doubt the organization wants to bring him back- which is a shame because, again, he's not that bad of a pitcher.

Joel Peralta

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

6/8 + 19

21/10

2.97

3.40

8.10

2.43

0.95

.187

.220

0.8

Joel Peralta signed with the Oakland A's in 1996, but was traded to the Los Angeles Angels before he made it to the MLB. He debuted with the Angels in 2005, and was sent to the Royals in 2006 because they selected him off of waivers. He had decent success with the there, serving as a set-up man. In 2009, he signed with the Colorado Rockies, in 2010 with the Nationals, and 2011 with the Rays. He was a replacement level player with the Rockies, and was slightly better with the Nationals, but was non-tendered to avoid having to pay him an arbitration bonus. His time with Tampa Bay has been productive, as Peralta has accrued a few saves and holds, alongside his decent numbers.

My verdict: Peralta would be cheap, that much is certain. He's a generally solid pitcher- his worst season, 2008, he would have likely been worth more than -0.6 WAR if his HR/9 rate wasn't 2.56, nearly double his career norm- but gets overlooked because he doesn't have an insanely low ERA, hasn't accrued many saves, and has played most of his career on teams that haven't been in the spotlight. He'll be turning 36 in 2012, though, so I wouldn't want to sign him for more than a year.

Takashi Saito

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings ERA

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

0/0 + 10

11/3

2.17

2.66

7.23

2.84

0.59

.227

.274

0.1

A

After a solid-but-unspectacular NPB career, Takashi Saito signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006, and was a 36-year-old rookie. Unlike many older Japanese players, Saito took to the MLB very quickly. Assuming the closer position vacated by Eric Gagne, Saito went on to have a 3.0 WAR season that year, notching 24 saves and 7 holds, with a 4.65 K/BB rate, and 2.07 ERA. In 2007, he would notch 39 saves with a 1.40 ERA, though his peripherals weren't as good. Because of the emergence of Jonathan Broxton, the Dodgers allowed Saito to walk. Saito went to the Red Sox in 2009, the Braves in 2010, and the Brewers in 2011, but was nowhere near as effective as he had been in his days in Los Angeles. Though his ERA remained low, his peripherals suffered. The 41-year-old also spent a great deal of time on the DL because of an oblique injury in 2011, and ended the season battling a sore calf muscle.

My verdict: Saito will be 42 next season, spent more time on the DL than he did on the field, and has peripherals that were among the worst of his MLB career. There's absolutely no reason the Mets should bark up this tree.

George Sherrill

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

0/1 + 7

14/8

3.00

3.07

9.50

3.00

0.75

.243

.316

0.5

None

George Sherill debuted in 2004 with Seattle, but never really garnered much attention until 2006, when he became the team's primary set-up man. In 2007, he enjoyed a breakout season, and Seattle capitalized on that by including him in the trade that brought Erik Bedard to the Pacific Northwest from Baltimore. In 2008, he was the Orioles' primary closer, notching 31 saves for the year, though he posted a less than stellar ERA. In 2009, right before the trade deadline, the Orioles traded Sherilll to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he excelled as both set-up man and LOOGY. He struggled in 2010, however, so badly that, though placed on waivers, not a single team took a bite. He signed with Atlanta in 2011, as a LOOGY, and had decent success in the role.

My verdict: Though he once closed, and as a result, must have the "closer's mentality", Sherrill is a LOOGY, and not a closer. We have Tim Byrdak and Danny Herrera, so there's no point to even consider signing Sherrill.

Kerry Wood

Saves/Opps or Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

1/6 + 21

17/13

3.35

3.59

10.06

3.71

0.88

.227

.294

0.5

B

Kerry Wood debuted in 1998, and in his 5th Major League start, struck out 20 Houston Astros, tying Roger Clemens record for most strikeouts in a regulation, nine-inning game. Wood's star seemed very bright, but he missed the last month of the season because of elbow soreness, and then all of 1999 because of Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2000, and was a little rusty, but got better and better from 2001 to 2003, notching three consecutive 3.0+ WAR seasons, topping out at 4.2 in 2003. He would never again be Kerry Wood of old after 2004, where he missed two months because of strained triceps. From 2005 to 2007, a long string of injuries made him ineffective, and as a result, Wood was transferred to the bullpen. He pitched effectively for the Cubs in that role, but with Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg both in the bullpen, the Cubs decided they didn't need Wood anymore and decided not to re-sign him. Wood signed with the Cleveland Indians in 2009, and was fairly ineffective, despite notching 20 saves with them. On the trade deadline in 2010, he was traded to the Yankees, where he was a semi-effective set-up man. They let him go after the season, and Wood returned to Chicago on a one-year deal.

My verdict: Wood wants to stay in Chicago, so it's very likely that he re-signs with them anyway, but even if he doesn't, I wouldn't be too interested in him. He will forever be an injury risk, and entering into the twilight of his career, he isn't going to be any more durable. Another injury ended his 2011 season prematurely, and though he still can be an effective relief pitcher, he's no good to us if he's on the DL.

Jose Valverde

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

47

37/5

2.34

3.67

8.31

4.28

0.65

.198

.245

0.8

A

Jose Valverde, supposedly, isn't too bright. Former teammate Miguel Montero has gone on the record questioning his intelligence, calling him "dumb". But, stupid jock or not, Valverde has had a pretty good career as a relief pitcher. He came up in 2003, but didn't come into prominence until 2007, his final year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he become their fulltime closer, notching 47 saves and establishing himself as a closer, after losing the role in 2005, and having a bloated ERA in 2006. He was traded to Houston in 2008, and his success continued there. In 2010, he became a free agent and was signed by the Detroit Tigers, and posted two back-to-back All-Star seasons.

My verdict: Valverde is basically having a career year, with the saves. He was better in 2007, because he struck out more, walked fewer, but the number of saves that he notched is the first thing that is going to jump out at most people, not the K/9 rate that is slowly creeping down and the BB/9 rate that is slowly creeping up. As a result, he's going to be too expensive than what the Mets are looking for, if the Tigers let him go- which I don't think they will. We've already had one closer who was knocked for overelaborate celebrations that we overpaid because of a career high in saves the previous season. We don't need another. As a result, I'll have to pass.

Joel Zumaya

Saves/Holds

Shutdown/Meltdown Innings

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BAA

BABIP

WAR

FA Status

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

B

Joel Zumaya burst onto the scene in 2006, playing an important role in the American League champion Detroit Tiger's bullpen. That year, he logged 83.1 innings, striking out 10.48 batters per nine innings with a blazing fastball that regularly hit triple digits, and was the fastest in MLB history until Aroldis Chapman recently was clocked at 106 MPH. Though he walked a few more batters than you'd like a relief pitcher to allow, he was worth 1.9 WAR for the year. Unfortunately, various body parts of his also burst. He missed the 2006 ALCS because of a sore wrist that was sustained from playing too much Guitar Hero. In 2007, he missed 12 weeks after rupturing a tendon in his finger after throwing a pitch. That off-season, he hurt his pitching shoulder while helping his father evacuate their house from wildfires, and missed the first half of the 2008 season. More shoulder issues limited him to 29 appearances in 2009, and a broken elbow bone- sustained after throwing a fastball- limited him to just 38.1 innings in 2010. During all that time, Zumaya accrued 0.8 WAR. He did not pitch at all in 2011, but began rehabbing at the end of 2011, and will be fully rested and ready to go by 2012.

My verdict: I think that having Zumaya in the bullpen would enhance it a great deal- imagine having two fireballers in the pen!- but trusting him with a role as important as the closer isn't the best idea. So, I wouldn't be averse to signing him for a relatively cheap amount of money, and taking a gamble, but I wouldn't count any eggs before they hatched. Because of all of his injuries, Zumaya is very likely to come cheap. Everybody remembers him for his dominating 2006, but between 2007 and 2010, he wasn't anywhere near as effective, because of all of the injuries. Next season will be the first time in a over a year that he will be throwing a baseball professionally, and one wonders which Zumaya will show up- the 2006 version? The 2007-2010 version? Will an unplanned set-back cause him to no-show, period, before the season even begins, as it did Kelvim Escobar two seasons ago. Joel Zumaya and the Mets medical doctors joining might either turn Zumaya into some kind of unstoppable beast, or kill him.

 

*I need to thank my brother for looking up the data for about a third of these guys, saving me time and effort.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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