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2010 Postmortem: Relief Pitchers


2010 Postmortem: The series which lasted longer than the postseason.

Mets relievers were average at best this season. Yes, the ERA was shiny, but they were below average in strikeout and walk rates. Home run suppression was their biggest asset, aided by Citi Field's friendly confines and also a decent 45.3% groundball rate. Perp-Rod was having a nice season as closer, then he assaulted his father-in-law. Hisanori Takahashi took over the role, converting all eight of his save opportunities. A true saver. Tak2's November 5th deadline to re-sign might pass without a new contract.

For this analysis, I will look only at relievers who pitched at least five innings out of the pen. I'll play word association (what comes to mind when I hear the pitcher's name), provide a semi-interesting number/statistic from 2010 and share some thoughts on the pitcher's Mets future.

Pedro Feliciano

  • Word Association: Perpetual
  • Notable Number: 92, the number of games he appeared in, a new Mets record. He also had the previous record, 88 appearances.
  • Future: I love me some Pedro but his contract situation is dicey. If the Mets offer arbitration, and he accepts, he would be due a raise over his 2010 salary of $2.9 million. That's too much too pay a LOOGY. The other option is to decline an arbitration offer and hope he can be re-signed for a reasonable amount. This might be the end of Pedro's Mets tenure.

Francisco Rodriguez

  • Word Association: Pelican Bay. Shoe program. Twenty-three hour lockdown.
  • Notable Number: 3.19, his K/BB rate, best since 2006.
  • Future: My heart says lose the son-of-a-gun but my head says keep him. Given his criminal record and thumb injury, he wouldn't fetch much on the trade market. And significant salary relief would probably be necessary. Hold onto him and find a way to prevent the 2012 $17.5 million option from vesting.

Hisanori Takahashi

  • Word Association: The seven pitch exploding heart technique
  • Notable Number: 1.53, his FIP vs. lefthanded hitters. That includes no home runs allowed in 30.1 innings vs. lefties.
  • Future: Negotiations with Tak2 are apparently at an impasse. The Mets are thinking one year with an option, while Tak2's camp wants a guaranteed multi-year deal. I doubt the Alderson regime will overpay for an aging reliever, and they shouldn't. Hopefully something can be worked out, but if not there are plenty of other available alternatives.

Raul Valdes

  • Word Association: Deep Inside Mexico
  • Notable Number: 7.58, his FIP in high leverage spots. He was the mop-up specialist.
  • Future: His performance wasn't terrible but his stuff is underwhelming. If he comes back, it's a minor league deal.

Elmer Dessens

  • Word Association: Fudd
  • Notable Number: .241, his 2010 BABIP. It's .306 for his career.
  • Future: He is a 40 year-old free agent with terrible peripherals. Similar to Valdes -- If he comes back, it's a minor league deal.

Fernando Nieve

  • Word Association: No nay never. No nay never, no more.
  • Notable Number: 14, the number of games he appeared in during April (out of 23 total April games).
  • Future: He is a free agent and won't be back.

Manny Acosta

  • Word Association: "You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."
  • Notable Number: -0.86, his team-worst clutch score. This doesn't mean he's un-clutch and mentally weak, just that he allowed some big hits in high leverage spots.
  • Future: Despite the memorable clutch failures, the Acostalypse was serviceable this season. If he can keep the home runs in check, his high strikeout rate makes him worth keeping around. He's on my 2011 Opening Day roster.

Bobby Parnell

  • Word Association: Captain Fastball
  • Notable Number: 96.5, the average mph of his fastball per FanGraphs.
  • Future: A young, cheap reliever who throws smoke. Barring complications with his elbow issue, he's in the 2011 Opening Day bullpen.

Ryota Igarashi

  • Word Association: "Irrigation" -- Tim McCarver
  • Notable Number: 55.6%, his LOB%, by far the worst on the team.
  • Future: He has a guaranteed contract for 2011 but shouldn't be on the Opening Day roster. Hopefully he can figure things out after a disastrous 2010.

Jenrry Mejia

  • Word Association: Jenrry The 8th (Inning Guy)
  • Notable Number: 60.9%, his groundball rate and one of the few encouraging aspects of Mejia's season.
  • Future: He starts 2011 in the minor leagues as a starting pitcher. Non-negotiable, regardless of how impressive a spring he has.

Oliver Perez

  • Word Association: Koufax
  • Notable Number: -$8.1 million, how much Ollie has been worth the last two seasons, per FanGraphs' $-per-WAR model.
  • Future: In my GM fantasy, Ollie is traded to the Cubs for Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs also receive $1.5 million, meaning the Mets pay $3 million for quality 4th outfielder Fukudome (considering Fukudome's $13.5 million 2011 salary).

Sean Green

  • Word Association: Endy Chavez
  • Notable Number: 11.57, Green's team-leading K/9 rate.
  • Future: I'm probably one of the last Green defenders in the fanbase. His groundball-inducing ability is prodigious and I hoped he would be useful out of the 'pen when the Mets needed a double play. He spent most of the year injured and displayed a total inability to control his pitches when healthy. It's time to move on -- non-tender.

Some other internal and external bullpen options for the Opening Day roster include Dillon Gee, Mike O'Connor, Dan Wheeler, Chad Gaudin, Jon Rauch, Hideki Okajima, Randy Choate, Will Ohman, Dennys Reyes, Bobby Jenks and Brian Bannister. A lot will happen between now and Spring Training, but for the sake of completeness here are my desired and shot-in-the-dark projected 2011 bullpens:

Desired 2011 bullpen: Francisco Rodriguez, Hisanori Takahashi, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Dillon Gee, Mike O'Connor, Chad Gaudin

Projected 2011 bullpen: Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Dillon Gee, Will Ohman, Mike O'Connor, Dan Wheeler