By Mike Steffanos
With the internet, we are exposed to the "expert" opinions of many more analysts than back in the stone age days when I was growing up. Sadly, exposure to more baseball stories often doesn't translate into increased value for serious baseball fans. Instead, on respected sports web sites you can find all manner of stories that purport to offer up meaningful insight that offer up nothing of the sort. Nowadays it's perfectly acceptable to offer a sort of "lazy analysis" that deals more with perception and the personal prejudice of the author than with any real discernment.
A couple of days ago I read yet another piece on one of the major sites that offers the opinion that the Mets bullpen will cave in under the weight of all the innings they will pitch. While it is certainly legitimate to criticize the gamble the Mets are taking with their starting pitching, it would be nice if one of these "experts" would take the time to understand what the Mets are trying to do before they offer their opinion on said gamble. We saw a lot of this last year, too, and yet the bullpen held up well for the whole season. The problem we have here is that when you look at the amount of innings the bullpen has to contribute, you also have to keep in mind the composition of the bullpen.
Your major league bullpen typically consists of a closer, one really dependable setup man and not much else. Good bullpens might have an extra guy that you have confidence in and maybe a respectable specialist or two. What the Mets did last year was to put together a bullpen that went 4 deep in quality under Wagner (Heilman, Sanchez, Bradford and Feliciano) and also featured a very solid long man in Darren Oliver. Despite dire predictions all year -- particularly when the Mets went through a streak when every other game seemed to go into extra innings -- the Mets bullpen did not implode. Heilman led all relievers on the team with 87 innings, and Sanchez would have been up there, too, if he hadn't been hurt in the cab accident. No one else pitched an extraordinary number of innings, despite the revolving door of starting pitching the Mets had to resort to last season.
The Mets starting pitching for 2007 certainly doesn't look any worse than last season. The Mets made a priority of lining up a good selection of arms for the bullpen again, and it stands every chance of being as deep as last year's 'pen. Barring really bad luck with their staff -- and it's hard to imagine worse luck than they experienced last season -- the Mets pitching figures to be equivalent to what they had. Now an argument can certainly be made that Atlanta and Philadelphia are much better than they were last year, and will put more pressure on the Mets all season. Perhaps things will really go right for one or both of these teams or the Marlins and they will surpass the Mets. That's how it goes in baseball where the other guys are trying to win, too.
I'm all for intelligent argument based on actual facts and thoughtful opinion, but please spare me the cliché and bullet point form of analysis that's all too pervasive today. As consumers of this information, we need to view it with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Peterson signed for 3 years
Good news that the Mets and Rick Peterson came to terms on a 3-year deal to keep the pitching coach in New York. It's interesting to note the change in perception regarding Peterson among the fans. While many still seemed to at least partially blame him for the Kazmir trade going into last season -- thanks in good part to local talk radio hosts -- the good work he's done with some of the reclamation projects and the bullpen in particular have caused most to look favorably towards Peterson now.
Ed from Mets Fever offers up some more info on the recently acquired Ambiorix Burgos, including a scouting report from a Royals blogger.