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Minaya Leaves Vegas with a Bullpen

Mike SteffanosFriday, December 12, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but Omar Minaya left there with a couple of arms that are likely to pay some dividends in Citi Field next summer.

In a move that most of us expected, the Mets moved quickly in signing Francisco Rodriguez to a 3-year, $37 million contract. You could see the stars aligning for that one, and the real question seemed to be what it would cost rather than would it get done.

While there is no guarantee that any pitcher is going to come here and succeed, Rodriguez seems as good of a bet as anyone, despite a fastball that isn't what it once was. Still, even if he comes here and does the job in the ninth, the question of how the Mets would get to the ninth inning still remained.

I had a feeling the next move would come by trade rather than signing, but I didn't expect it to come quite so quickly. In making the trade for Seattle's J.J. Putz, the Mets landed a power arm that their bullpen sorely lacked last season. He was one of the best closers in the game 2 years ago. Although injuries slowed him last season, he still struck out 56 batters in 46.1 innings. If he's fully recovered, he's arguably a more dominant pitcher than K-Rod.

The worry, of course, is that the injuries linger. Putz will turn 32 in February and had some elbow issues last season. Balance that risk against the reward of having a guy who struck out 104 in 78.1 innings in 2006 and held opponents to a ridiculous .153/.202/.252 batting line in his 2007 campaign.

If Duaner Sanchez can regain a little more arm strength the Mets will have the luxury of 3 late inning relievers who can retire both lefties and righties -- hopefully alleviating the need to use 6 pitchers for 9 outs. Other guys like Pedro Feliciano and Brian Stokes can fall into roles more suited for their talents.

More on this and what the Mets gave up in more detail this weekend, but I do like very much what Minaya has accomplished. The 2006 Mets rode a dominant bullpen to within a game of the World Series, and I honestly believe that Minaya has put the major pieces in place for another very good 'pen.

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 (8)

I like the acquisitions Omar made, the rule 5 draft brought in some other arms to compete. O'Day may need a year to recover, but it could be a sleeper choice for the future. Now it's on to getting a couple of starters, solidifying the bench, and maybe that righthanded power hitter. Couple of other notes: Is ESPN secretly the second Yankees station? They will talk about the Yankees throughout the year whether they are relevant or not. So re-reviewing my statement, I guess that makes them relevant in any event answering my own question (LOL). Second: The Phils have become World Champions, yet they still have Mets on the brain. Cole Hammels' latest words, I mean really dude, you have the ring, and your still make comments about the Mets? I would open spring training with his and any other comments that are said throughout the year pasted to the clubhouse bulletin boards, highlighted and in bold print. This should be a motivator for the Mets, and put their mission in perspective, WIN A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! I acknowledge that the Phils are Champions and will go in to next season as the Champions. Ok now what? Lets go Mets! Ooops, I think I'm giving myself a chubby (LOL) thinking about the prospect of next seasons' success, 2009 World Champion New York Mets! Think about it the 40th anniversery of the Miracle Mets 1969=2009, see ya there!

Putz was the guy I wanted, and Omar got him; well done.

The elbow problem was a hyperextended elbow, and to my knowledge Putz is recovered from it. He had other problems last year not having to do with his arm. His ERA's in August and September, quoting from memory, were 2.75 and 2.25.

Sorry to lose Heilman and Endy, but the Mets became much more formidible this week.

manuel has to have these guys motivated and ready to go from day one in spring training.hate to say it but hamels is right.we have CHOKED the last 2 years.they need to get out of the gate fast.last year under willie, we were flat and not ready to play when the season started.this year, we better be ready to go from day one.no excuses, no bs..with the addition of krod and putz, if we don't make the playoffs this year, manuel and some core guys have to be sent packing..

I guess you can say choked if you wish, I just think the past two years things just did not go the way they were expexcted to go. Aging players, injuries, and some sub-par performances led to the demise of the Mets. 7 games up with 17 to go with a collapse of unseen proportions in 2007. Then, 3 up with a charging Phillies team and three weeks to go plus many factors, mainly a spent bullpen in 2008 may in some circumstances lead some to say choke. All in all they did not get it done. Again Phils are champs period! I just think being the reigning champs, you would have other things on your mind. Not sour grapes, just saying the Mets would not be in my thoughts until spring training. From what I understand he (Hammels) was kind of baited into answering the question. I like Straws response, because the 1986 team would have made him eat those words every time they faced him. But, that was then, this is now. A fight? I don't know, but hardnosed play is the best medicine when playing the Phils and Marlins this upcoming season. Lets hope they dole out some payback! Go Mets!

LJ, blowing a 7 game lead with 17 to go was unreal.blowing a lead again last year made all met fans ill.this team has to make the playoffs this year.the pressure on the core guys in september will be very high.this is why if i own this team i tell my gm to get manny.manny is in another world.he will not feel the pressure and wilt in september like our core guys have the last 2 years.from what i hear and read, the wilpons will not spend the money.if tatis's production was an aberration last year and delgado reverts to the delgado of the first half of 2008, we will rue the day we didn't sign the best hitter in baseball.

I don't know what the Mets have to or don't have to do, but I'll tell you this: I saw Hamels pitch against the Mets last September, and not only did he get rocked, he completely lost his composure, stalking around the mound like a little kid who didn't get what he wanted for Christmas.

Yeah, his team won it all last year; I hold out hope that we'll see another girly display from him, hopefully when the Mets smack him around. Next time out, all next year of course, Hamels will have a lot of people watching. I'd like to share my impression of Hamels with the world.

DD, there is one way for the mets to shut up the cole hamels and mike francesa types...win a world series.when they win a series, all the bs comments go away.if we keep pissing away the playoffs and a shot at a world series, because we can't beat a lousy mediocre marlin team the last day of the season than we deserve all the abuse that we get. JUST WIN IN 09 BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still commenting on an article that has been up for a while:

Now that the dust has cleared one thing is evident, if it wasn't before: the Mets built a bullpen that exploded in 2008. I suppose I mean it is now evident to everybody, since even the Mets front office has acknowledged it with their moves.

We can applaud some of the new faces coming to the team, but maybe, possibly, it is appropriate to remember one more time some of the lessons we've been shown; namely, that even a good/near great closer can break down, with the likelihood of that happening going up when said closer is old, of slight stature for a fireballer, has a history of arm problems and you sign him up for a long contract. Another lesson, one that the Mets certainly should not have needed, is that you don't sign mediocre lefthanded specialists to three year deals; teams do not need a designated Rich Rodriguez.

And another lesson here is: those live arms in your system, the Lindstroms, Owen's and Heath Bell's -- those guys have value, and it's up to your team to extract that value out of them, either by putting them in a situation where they succeed, or by trading them for something of actual value.

I mention these lessons not because I am a wit smarter than anyone else, but rather because I get the feeling that nobody on the Mets ever allows themselves a learning moment. Yes, no one is prepared to sign on to the next Scott Kasmir givaway -- but somehow I feel that it's only because Wilpon can still hear the reaction, NOT because the results of that test resulted in some cognitive improvement in the front office. So we guys have to shout it out occasionally.

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