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Thoughts on the Bullpen

Mike SteffanosThursday, March 13, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

I DVRed yesterday's game against the Orioles and watched it last night. Of particular interest was Duaner Sanchez' inning that has received a lot of favorable play in the news today. While Duaner did indeed hit 90 on the radar gun, Kevin Burkhardt correctly pointed out that the couple of times he hit 90 he was clearly overthrowing and missed badly. The fastballs he was throwing for strikes were 87-88. Having said that, I thought he looked pretty decent, but I still have a concern over whether his arm strength is where it needs to be at this point.

In Monday's post I linked to Ed Coleman's opinion that Sanchez is rushing things a little and that the Mets should slow him down. I tend to agree. The Mets have a lot of options for the bullpen, and giving Duaner another 2 weeks to a month shouldn't be that big of a hardship.

In looking at the bullpen right now, the following guys (barring a trade or injury) seem a lock for jobs coming out of camp:

Billy Wagner
Duh. By the way, I like the fact that has changing things up a little this spring. It will be interesting to see if any of these new pitches or pitching out of the windup are still around when the games start to count.

Aaron Heilman
Everybody's favorite trade chip is still wearing orange and blue. If Duaner doesn't start the season with the club, he's the eighth inning guy. If Sanchez is around on opening day we'll likely see the sort of split we saw with Sanchez and Heilman in 2006.

Pedro Feliciano
I think he's earned the respect after two terrific seasons to assume he's the top lefty setup guy. Should be used more for whole innings against righties, too -- a fact clearly borne out by the numbers.

Scott Schoeneweis
Nobody's going to take that salary. We can hope for the Schoeneweis we saw the last month of the season, and then perhaps we might find someone desperate enough for relief help in-season. It's not that I don't think he's better than he showed most of last year, but he really doesn't seem to me a New York type guy. Oh, and if you think the Mets would eat the last two years of his contract and cut him, then you probably also believe Geraldine Ferraro that her comments were not racist. He's the second lefty out of the bullpen barring a miracle trade.

Matt Wise
I've been impressed with this guy in camp. He has a good attitude and a great changeup and knows how to pitch. I think he'll be in a rotation with Feliciano and Schoeneweis for the sixth and seventh innings.

Jorge Sosa
Also mentioned in trade rumors, and probably more attractive to some teams then Schoeneweis given his versatility and contract. The Mets have so little starting pitching depth, though, that I think Sosa wins the long relief job and provides rotation insurance.

That covers six of the available seven spots in the bullpen. There is no shortage of candidates for the spot, which would seem to me why going slow with Sanchez would seem so sensible. You have rule 5 pickup Steven Register, who would have to go back from whence he came if he doesn't stay on the 25-man roster all season. Nelson Figueroa has looked good in camp, as has Brian Stokes. Ricardo Rincon has been a revelation, although it seems doubtful that the Mets would keep another lefty if Schoeneweis isn't dealt. Several other candidates, including last year's spring sensation Joe Smith, are also around. I find it hard to believe one of them wouldn't suit for the short-term.

I'm not down on Sanchez -- quite the opposite. I agree with the majority opinion that a healthy Sanchez is a huge addition to this bullpen. He went a year-and-a-half without pitching, though, and got a little bit of a late start in camp. As stated previously, it's more important to me that Duaner pitches in September and October than in April.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (4)

Nice report. I would like to keep Register and Rincon. Figueroa is nice to have around also. We still have some time for everybody yet, befor its chipped in stone and things may change.The bullpen has looked good, our position players on the most part are cold so far.

Sorry, missed your comment here, Al. Like I said, keeping Rincon probably would only happen if they trade Schoeneweis. They're not going to go with 4 lefties in the bullpen.

Hey Mike,This is what I feel on the pen's situation : First lets address Wagner, He has been tinkering with some new pitches to offset the fact that 100 mph is not quite there anymore. So far he looks great but I personally think he needs a little rest once in a while. Because our offense, like it or not, doesn't produce enough blowouts, he's throwing an avreage of four+ times a week. He will burn out at this pace. Remember Davie would use Jessie from the left side and Doug from the right? If Sanchez is healthy, how about using Heilman there? Next Heilman, he will eventually leave us because he wants to start. I agerr with most that he's more effective if teams don't get to see him twice. Giving him a chance to close once in a while could boost his confidence and keep Wagner fresh. Pedro F. Most of the time he's lights out. Always wondered why only is he used for one batter. I feel he could also close once in a while. Just can't run him out ther everyday like last year. Remember how he ran out of gas? Back to offense! Next Scott S. What is going on with him this spring? He's been lights out. Better find a team to take him now before he starts facing the big boys as the roster cuts are made. Matt W. I really need to see more of him but yesterday he seemed to mow through an inning.Sosa, He is what he is. Good sometimes. Terrible others. Rincon, Figueroa, I really haven't seen enough of but on the other hand, Stokes needs to pack his bags because he just isn't ready.

William - I agree with you on Wagner. They need to use him a little more sparingly this season. I think if they limited him to save opportunities that would do it. I agree on Sosa being what he is, but with so little starting pitching depth you have to like a guy who could start and relieve.

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