Alderson could look externally for a closer in 2012

Francisco Rodriguez is gone, Jason Isringhausen is 38-years-old, Terry Collins wants Pedro Beato to work as a starter in Winter ball and Bobby Parnell has an ERA over 7 through his past 14 games.  The sum of that equation adds up to one certainty; the Mets closer situation is far from set heading into 2012.

Sandy Alderson apparently acknowledged that fact on Thursday, as David Lennon of Newsday surmised that the GM is  ‘prepared to explore deals for a closer this winter’.  According to Lennon, Sandy addressed the issue by saying:

Photo by Michael G. Baron

We’ll see where we are at the end of the season,” Alderson said. “We do have an internal candidate or two, but I’d say that the options are limited. On the other hand, if you look at the closer market over the last couple of years, it hasn’t been a place where free agents are getting major contracts.

“There could be a lot of guys out there that are capable potentially and we’ll look to see where the market is. Our bullpen is going to be an important focus for us next season. It needs to be improved, and now without K-Rod, it needs to have someone at the back end of it.”

I can’t help but wonder if Izzy, after being given an opportunity to not only come back and pitch but earn his 300th save with the very team that drafted him, would be interested in returning for another year.  That’s not to say he would enter the season as the closer but, given his experience, his tutelage of someone like Parnell or Beato and the insurance he could provide should both fail could prove invaluable.  Any type of commitment from Isringhausen, however, would depend on his health and his price tag, both of which the closer recently addressed according to Mike Puma of the New York Post:

If I feel healthy, I’ll have my agent talk to some people and see what kind of interest is out there,” Isringhausen said before the Mets beat the Padres 7-3. “I’m not coming back for 500 grand again — I know that. But in the same sense I knew coming in, this year wasn’t really about the money.

“It was about proving to people I was healthy. We’ll just see how it goes. My wife and I will have a lot of conversations and we’ll see what happens.”

Like most fans, I want Parnell to just get it together and run away with the opportunity he’s being given here at the end of the season.  I love seeing the gun hit triple digits and batters being overpowered in the box, but Bobby is inconsistent and has appeared flat out jittery at times.  The 26-year-old hasn’t shown the ability to make adjustments as the season progresses or consistently get himself out of trouble when  things get sticky.

Photo by Michael G. Baron

After a brilliant June in which Parnell put up a 1.50 ERA for the month, the hard-throwing righty boasted earned run averages of 4.97 and 5.63 in July and August respectively.  Batters are hitting .267 against him with the bases empty but that number jumps to .299 when runners are on, .300 when in scoring position, and .333 with runners in scoring position and 2 out.  Not exactly numbers that will instill confidence in a manager as he looks for someone to close out a game in a tight situation.

Even with the uncertainty facing the Mets bullpen going forward I don’t think a lot of fans will miss K-Rod.  While he did convert nearly 85% of his save opportunities during his tenure with New York, he was a roller-coaster ride that often left fans nauseous when finally coming to a halt.  I look at youngsters like Jordan Walden of the Angels or Craig Kimbrel of the Braves and yearn for the day that the Mets can provide a homegrown answer to their questionable closer situation.  Here’s to hoping that Bobby Parnell can be that answer.

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