When the plan in constructing a team is to search for bargains and hope for the best, the an awful lot is being left to chance.  That is just what was ordered by Mr. Wilpon this past winter.  “Find some cheap alternatives, and they better pan out…or else!”

Be Gone With Wilpon, Bargain Shopping

The Mets followed orders and looked for bargains this winter. It has worked out thus far.

The Met hierarchy, doing as they were told, searched on the bottom shelf for a group of players that would hopefully pan out for them and be somewhat productive in 2010.  This bargain-basement process led them to the signing of Rod Barajas, Henry Blanco, Hisanori Takahashi,  R.A. Dickey, and Elmer Dessens.  These names owe us Met fans absolutely nothing to date, wouldn’t you say?

Now there were others that gave us absolutely nothing, such as the departed Mike Jacobs, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Kelvim Escobar.  I think anyone would take a 50% or better success rate when searching for quality on the scrap heap.  That is just what the Mets have gotten through June 15th.  Mission accomplished Jeff.

Let us give credit where credit is due.  Jerry Manuel deserves plenty, as he is certainly getting the most out of all the players on his team, stars and unknowns alike.  Let’s give a shout out to the players themselves, as they are buying into Jerry’s mantra and have found some clubhouse balance.  This is something that has not existed in these parts in quite some time.

The problem now, however,  is two-fold.  The idea of any baseball team is to truly compete for a championship.  In order to be in the conversation, these no-name guys will have to continue their success.  Secondly, the Mets will surely need to add a starter, just as they needed to in November 2009.  Yes, this is true even though the Mets currently are among the league leaders in starting ERA.  They need a solid number three starter (Lackey would have looked great here, wouldn’t he?) to stick behind Pelfrey and Santana, therefore allowing Niese to slot in as the fourth starter.  The unfortunate fact is that this will now cost the Mets prospects as well as the dollars Mr. Wilpon seemingly will not relinquish his grasp upon.

In summary, the Mets have succeeded thus far in spite of Mr. Wilpon and his penny-pinching approach.  It better continue, or someone will have to pay.  Unfortunately, we know it won’t be Jeff Wilpon.

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Can’t this guy be optimistic about anything?

As I have mentioned in other various posts, I consider myself a realist.  If the majority of what comprises the Met roster appears to be sub-par in my eye, then the words I pen may be construed as negative.  I understand the perception here.  Regardless of how I come across, I will not apologize for my opinions.  After all, this is my blog, isn’t it?  Well, that is that.

I move on now to another shortcoming of the 2010 New York Mets, the bullpen.  I have already stated my low expectations for this year’s starting rotation as a whole.  With low expectations placed there already, the importance of the bullpen is raised tenfold.  Let us break down the current pitchers that will likely be a part of this intricate facet of the team.

Francisco Rodriquez – K-Rod is widely regarded as the one “sure thing” the Met bullpen has going for it in 2010.  I think that giving him this tag is a little dangerous.  If you glance over his career statistics, you will notice some disturbing trends.  One of those trends is a marked decrease in strikeouts over the past 2 seasons.  He still strikes out just over one batter per inning, but the average has slipped from the 1.4 average he posted from 2004 to 2007.  His batting average against and WHIP have also fallen off in recent years.  Some people want to chalk up last year’s poor second half to K-Rod mailing it in after the entire team went on the disabled list.  Listen, mental lapses happen in baseball, and last year certainly passes as an acceptable situation for one to occur.  However, I point to something a little more meaningful when it comes to K-Rod’s decline in production.   Pitching is a physical activity, is it not?  When a starting pitcher reaches a certain amount of innings, typically his production begins to falter.  This is particularly true for a power pitcher.  Why should it be any different for a reliever, especially one that is used as often as K-Rod.  Rodriquez’ pitching style is also quite violent as he twists and flails his body with his follow through.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that after having pitched 520 career innings, that there is the possibility of his smallish-frame showing signs of wearing down?  That is absolutely my belief and my major concern for K-Rod moving forward.  This is the best reliever the Mets have by the way.

Could K-Rod's violent delivery and excessive innings be the cause of his decline in productivity?

Bobby Parnell – Parnell was one of the few players that actually excited me going into last season.  He started out like a bullet fired from a shotgun in April and May looking rather dominant as the Mets’ seventh inning man.  He even had a brief period of success once J.J. Putz went down as the eighth inning guy before losing his confidence, and ultimately his meaningful innings.  The Mets could not stop the bleeding with this guy, and after his confidence was completely destroyed, he was further confused when the Mets made him their 5th starter.  That was a total disaster, because the Mets barely afforded him the time to stretch out his innings and get comfortable once again as a starting pitcher.   Instead, they fed him to the wolves without any confidence or comfort whatsoever.  I believe that Parnell still has some upside, which is more than I can say for most of the other members of the Met bullpen.  If the Mets are to have any success, it will unfortunately fall on Parnell’s inexperienced shoulders once again.

Pedro Feliciano – There was once a time where I did not like Feliciano.  That time has passed.  After all, a left-handed reliever who can pitch over 80 innings in a season with relative success is no one to feel dislike towards.  The only thing wrong with him is that he has no help yet again from the left side of the mound in 2010.  Seriously, why do the Mets continue to make the same mistakes over and over again?

Ryota Igarashi – We all know by now that you never know what you are going to get with a Japanese import, regardless of their success in Japan.  We know this especially well as Met fans, as we seem to take more chances on guys like this than any team in the bigs.  Therefore, I will not count on Igarashi at all for 2010, even though the Mets did when they signed him to a guaranteed 2 year, $3 million deal this off-season.  Once again the Mets like to guarantee contracts to unproven players rather than giving that same money to someone who is proven.  My head is in my hands right about now as I take a break from typing this.

Sean Green – There was an interesting article posted about Green here, where there are illustrations on how his delivery has evolved in the past 2 years.  There were thoughts that he might be following the development of Chad Bradford, who was a player the Mets should never have let go when they did after the 2006 season.   Whether the changes Green  has made in his delivery lead to more effectiveness or not remains to be seen.  Throughout his career, Green has been an average reliever at best, so any improvement would be welcomed.

Kelvim Escobar – Enough has been written about this guy to date that I do not need to mention anything here.  Until he actually pitches more than 2 consecutive appearances without getting injured, he deserves no additional chatter.

R.A. Dickey –  This is a guy who throws a knuckle ball with little success.  Not much more to say here.  He was signed to a minor league deal, although with the lack of depth in the bullpen, he actually has a shot of making the team.  Gasp!

Pat Misch – Another starter that could serve as a long reliever or spot starter for the Mets.  Unfortunately, his talent is also limited.

Jenrry Mejia – As reported here by The ‘Repolitans, Jerry Manuel went a little crazy over this kid after watching him pitch one day in training camp.  He has good stuff, but come on.  Let the kid go to the minors and hopefully develop into a real major league pitcher before we talk about him any further.

That is all there is to say about our bullpen candidates.  I have only listed the players that hold at least slight meaning going into April.  Like I said, the bullpen is certainly not a strength for the Mets this year.  Then again, after reviewing all aspects of the team, what area of the team really is?