Let's start with the end: we know Francisco will be back to close (or try). He costs enough that it doesn't make sense to cut him but not so much that it hurts to bring him back. Yes, his season-long numbers are awful (5.36 ERA, 1.59 WHIP), however in his last 28 appearances, since May 17, he has a 3.55 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP and 10.6 K/9, numbers that compare well with his 3-year average coming into the year (3.71 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 10.1 K/9). Strangely enough, he still only has 3 blown saves on the season.
Rauch is not signed for next year, but had a fine season, even after a rough patch mid-year. His 2.88 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. In fact you could argue that he's been TOO good this year - the last time he had an ERA under 3.15 was when he was pitching for the Expos. You read that right. His career ERA is 3.74, and WHIP is 1.222. For a guy who makes $3.5mil and has arthritic knees (at least that's what Darling & Cohen have said), I would suggest Rauch is a high-risk proposition to bring back.
Bobby Parnell has been fine this year with a 2.98 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and 8.47 K/9. Futher, over his last 30.2 IP, he has a 2.35 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 7.92 K/9. Counting 2010-2012 combined, he has a 3.20 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP and 8.96 K/9. The problem with Bobby seems to be his lack of "clutch". Witness these career numbers: according to fangraphs, a career OPS against of .609 in low-leverage situations, .799 in medium-leverage and .819 in high-leverage situations. I would suggest he is fine for 6th and 7th innings. Let's leave him out of the 8th and 9th though.
Josh Edgin has a 3.52 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 10.17 K/9 in 23 major league innings, a 3.49 xFIP. If you discount his first three appearances withe Mets (3 ER in 2.2 IP), he has a 2.66 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 8.85 K/9 in 20.1 IP. In 144 minor league innings, he totaled a 2.38 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 10.43 K/9. I like what I've seen from Edgin and want to see more.
Then there's Ramon Ramirez. On the season, he has a 4.24 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and 46 K in 57.1 IP. If you look at his stats since April 20, he has a 3.88 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP and 7.6 K/9. His career numbers across 420.2 IP are a 3.32 ERA, a 1.278 WHIP and 7.62 K/9. At $2.65mil, he would seem a good bet to have a bounce-back year in 2013 so if we could re-sign him, maybe even at a slightly lower rate , I'd be OK with that.
I gather the Mets are high on Robert Carson, though I'm not entirely sure why. Yes, he had a 1.72 ERA in AAA this year, but in just 15.2 IP and wiht a 1.40 WHIP. In 35.2 innings in AA, he had a 4.79 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. The good news is that all-in he had 52 K in 51.1 IP. In his first 9.1 major league innings he has a 5.79 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP.
Byrdak is unsigned and out for the rest of the year. His 4.40 ERA in 30.2 IP would seem unnecessary to bring back with Carson and Edgin providing lefty relief. Acosta and his 7.62 ERA in 39 IP would seem an easy non-tender. And we also get to say goodbye to DJ Carrasco and his 2-year $2.5Mil contract. For our investment, we got 53 IP (3.2 this year) and a mere 6.11 ERA with a 1.64 WHIP.
So let's say the Mets bring back Francisco, Edgin, Parnell and Ramon Ramirez but let Rauch and the rest go. How many spots do we leave for home-grown guys like Familia, Mejia and possibly Armando Rodriguez? I'd think you'd want at least two more free agents / trade targets, presumably at least one of which a guy we could use in the 8th/9th if necessary. Brandon League, Kyle Farnsworth, Jason Frasor, Jonathan Broxton and Brandon Lyon have closed in the past. Mike Adams has not, but is also a free agent.
League's career ERA is 3.68 and xFIP is 3.63 with 6.79 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 career. This year he has a 3.52 ERA and 11 saves (1-6 record - that is 6 blown saves in 17 chances).
Farnsworth's career ERA is 4.22 with a 3.71 career xFIP and 8.96 K/9 and 3.78 BB/9. Word has it that up until a few years ago, he was a hard-drinking man and has kicked the habit. Over his last 3 seasons, in 147 innings, he has a 2.82 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 8.20 K/9. He was injured and missed the first 3 months of this year, but has 22 IP since June 30 with a 3.18 ERA.
Jason Frasor has a 3.86 career ERA, a 3.96 xFIP and 8.6 K/9 vs 3.91 BB/9. This year he has a 3.86 ERA, a 3.53 xFIP and 11.33 K/9, 4.58 BB/9 in 49.2 IP. Having spent his whole career with the Blue Jays, one might think he'd do well to get out of that hitter's haven, but his career ERA at home is 3.12 vs. 4.46 on the road.
Broxton has a career ERA of 3.12 and xFIP of 3.01, K/9 of 11.00 and 3.65 BB/9. This year, he has a 2.54 ERA, a 3.71 xFIP and just 6.7 K/9. While his ERA with Cincy is 3.21, his K/9 has gone up to 7.7 and his WHIP went from 1.40 to 1.14. If he could be had relatively cheaply, he could be interesting.
Brandon Lyon has a career ERA of 4.13, an xFIP of 4.33 and 6.17 K/9, 2.82 BB/9. This year he has a 3.13 ERA, a 3.54 xFIP and 9.88 K/9, 2.3 BB/9.
And Mike Adams has a career ERA of 2.18, xFIP of 3.35, 9.02 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9. This year in Texas, a 2.63 ERA, a 3.85 xFIP, 7.50 K/9 and 2.44 BB/9. If I could determine that his low K/9 is not injury related (doesn't seem to be wiht the other numbers), he'd be a nice pick-up as well. Nice to see him having success in Texas as well as San Diego.
I'm not saying we should definitely not bring Rauch back or that we definitely should bring Ramon Ramirez back, but should treat them like free agents, not any differently just because they were on the team this year. For instance, let's compare Rauch with guys who do have cartilidge in their knees. If we could get Broxton and/or Farnsworth for similar money, I'd be very happy with that. If we can bring Rauch and Ramirez back, but at better prices, I'd be OK with that too.
Looking at the whole bullpen then, if you have Francisco to close and Parenll for the 6/7th innings and Edgin and Carson (?) and one of Familia, Mejia and Armando, we'd need two other guys. I'd want at least one of them to be from the list above, including Rauch and Ramirez. The main key is to not overpay (right Sandy?) and not offer multi-year deals (right Omar?).For my money, Broxton, Farnsworth and Adams are probably the most interesting guys here.