For the Mets, relief may have to come from within

It’s no secret that the Mets bullpen has been problematic all season long.  As a whole the Mets are the only team with a bullpen ERA over 5 and rank dead last in the majors in that category.

So with the trade deadline approaching and the Mets ship heading in a sinking direction, fans have called for the front office to plug the holes.  This is an understandable cry for help from a fan base that has had to deal with it’s share of turmoil over the past couple of seasons and are looking for ownership to join them in showing faith in their teams chances.  So while we wait for Sandy Alderson to measure up the market and hope that he can do a better job of fixing a problem he spent all offseason addressing, speculation as to how things might develop in the next 11 days is running rampant.

Photo by Michael G. Baron

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t want the Mets to trade away any blue chips prospects for a fringe reliever.  It goes without saying that no Mets fans want that to happen.  But I also laugh at the notion that some people out there are saying “if you have an idea of who Sandy should trade and for what, let me hear it.”  Guess what, that’s not my job.  I have enough trouble managing my fantasy baseball team and can’t even imagine what trade talks are like when there are big dollars and big egos involved.

Photo by Michael G. Baron

Still, I stand by the though that there is a trade out there that will help this team today without giving away any key pieces of tomorrow………IF (notice the big ‘IF’) the Mets are able to eat some bad ends of some 2012 contracts.  Maybe I’m wrong in that thinking but like I said yesterday, I bet at some point throughout this deadline a deal will go down and I’ll be left wondering why the Mets couldn’t have been the ones pulling it off.  If I’m wrong, then so be it, it’s happened more times than I care to remember.  Maybe the relief market is just that tight right now.

Based on the fact that no significant trades have yet to be made I can certainly see that being the case, so if the only option is to overpay in terms of players AND cash, then I’m happy to see New York holding off.

The question then becomes, what can the team do to fix things?  Well, from the looks of things, the Mets may turn to some internal options to try and right ship.  According to Mike Puma of the New York Post:

With Miguel Batista scheduled to move into the rotation tomorrow to face the Dodgers, the Mets will likely make a roster move to add another reliever. A team official didn’t rule out the possibility of Jenrry Mejia, but said the righty has been “very inconsistent” for Triple-A Buffalo.”

Inconsistent is a good way to describe Mejia, who has a 4.22 ERA since moving to Buffalo and has given up 3 ER in his last 2 relief outings after making 3 straight appearances without allowing an earned run.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks a reliever at Buffalo may be the answer, but it’s not Mejia.  Sherman instead believes that the team should give Jeurys Familia a chance to join the big clubs bullpen and that such a move could provide not just a short term fix, but a long term solution.

I have been wondering why they do not try to use one of their top prospects, Jeurys Familia, in the pen. He has shown durability as a minor league starter for four straight seasons now. He could break in and get major league experience via the pen. And the Mets privately believe what most of the industry does — Familia’s long-term future might be as a reliever, mainly because pitchers with high-end stuff, but difficulty repeating their delivery generally land in the pen.

The Mets, a team official told me, were considering Familia for big-league relief before Familia lost his delivery in the first half. It has been much better his last three outings and, the official said, “Given the recent resurgence, I think we’d be reluctant to take him out of his element, as he’s never relieved before, but it may be an option for later in the year.”

Photo by Michael G. Baron

I know it seems that these days it seems taboo to even mention transitioning a young starter into a reliever mid-season, but I really think it’s something that needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis.  If the team believes that from a health standpoint Familia would be able to handle the transition this season then giving him a shot in the pen should be a consideration.  I only say this because from a results standpoint I don’t see how it can hurt.  Again, I’m putting health issues aside for the sake of argument but also look at it from the standpoint that if a young prospect fails in a relief role I don’t think it has the same mental effect it would if he were rushed up and bombed in his first MLB start.  Given the way this bullpen has performed of late expectations are certainly not very high and if Jeurys were to get lit up in an inning of relief I would be more inclined to chalk it up as a bad fit then give up on his potential.

That’s just me and I’m just spinning the wheels one what the team might do to shake things up, but for now it’s more of the same and in a perfect world that guys that are currently on the roster would figure it out and give Sandy some cards to play with as he sits at the table.




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