By: Stache Staff

Can 2011’s weakness be 2012’s strength?

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When I look back on 2011, there were countless times when Mets fans just knew the bullpen was going to blow it.  Even when K-Rod was here, late inning situations were never in the Mets favor.  More times than not, K-Rod was in there in the 9th inning, walking that ever visible tightrope.  Hell, even at times during the early part of the season, his WHIP was higher than his ERA.

With the team clearly looking towards the future, Sandy Alderson needed to find a way to patch this team together the most cost-effective way possible.  The Mets obviously had no intentions of breaking the bank for Jose Reyes (even if they had the money, they shouldn’t have matched the Marlins offer) considering they suffered a $70 million loss in 2011.  When I got to thinking, “What’s the cheapest way to improve the team?”, the first thing that came to mind was the bullpen.

Below are the stats for the Mets bullpen from last year.  They were essentially the 2nd worst bullpen in the NL.

ERA WHIP ER R BAA OPS BLSV SVO
NL AVG 3.59 1.35 192 209 0.241 0.687 20 64
Mets 4.33 1.45 228 254 0.267 0.747 24 67
Rank 15 15 15 15 15 15 11 5
SV% HBP H 2B TTLBASES K/9 BB/9 SB
NL AVG 69 20 434 81 661 8.11 2.26 35
Mets 64 26 488 96 737 7.96 2.11 53
Rank 12 13 13 LAST 13 10 10 LAST

When Alderson finally waved the white flag last year around the All-Star break, he sent K-rod to the Brewers for lefty reliever Danny Herrera, who in 13 innings after the trade had a solid 1.13 ERA, and another reliever Adrian Rosario.

At the Winter Meetings, the Mets made another smart trade by sending arbitration eligible, and apparent bad seed, CF Angel Pagan, to the Giants for reliever Ramon Ramirez and CF Andres Torres.  Since 2008, Ramirez has a solid 2.77 ERA and a very respectable 1.21 WHIP.

Before leaving the Winter Meetings, Sandy and Co. still weren’t done adding to the bullpen.  They signed the back-end of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, set-up man Jon Rauch and closer Frank Francisco.  Although Rauch didn’t have the best 2011, he has been a pretty solid set up man/emergency closer for the better part of the past 6 or 7 years.  He doesn’t walk too many batters and that can be shown with his 2.6/1 strikeout to walk ratio and the career 1.25 WHIP.  Rauch’s partner in crime last year, Frank Francisco, saved 17 games for the Jays in 2011.  Francisco has been one of the better power relievers in the game over the past few years.  He boasts a 9.9 strikeout per 9 innings ratio for his career.

Between Francisco, Rauch, Ramirez and Herrera, I think the Mets have made a significant upgrade in the bullpen.  Herrera seemed to have a little bit of that Pedro Feliciano ability in him.  Rauch or Ramirez are certainly an upgrade over Izzy/Parnell, and Francisco is way better than anyone who closed for the Mets in the 2nd half of last season.

My math may be off, but those four are going to cost the Mets roughly $10 mil to completely revamp the back-end of one of the worst bullpens in the league.  I know most fans wanted that $10 mil to go into signing Reyes, but the truth is that we are in a cost cutting mode.  We just have to accept it, and understand that baseball is also a game of economics.  It really made no sense to go into battle with essentially the same garbage in the pen this year along with Reyes.  It’s a financially responsible move along with a good baseball move.  If Sandy could get something in return for K-Rod, what makes you think he can’t get something of value back for one of those four if a team comes knocking at the door around the trade deadline?

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