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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Megdal: How to Suck-Proof the 2009 Mets: Massive Expenditure on Relief

This is bigger than the World Relief Malawi restoration plan!

So what are the poor, pathetic, sidelined Mets to do as they approach roster decisions this winter?

At first glance, their options for building a team that can play consistently good baseball for an entire season are grim: A weak free agent class provides little in the way of help, either offensively or with starting pitching.

Fortunately for the Mets, though, these were both strengths in 2008, and figure to be again in 2009.

Instead, the only area where the free agent market has any particular depth is in relief pitchers. And the Mets need to go out and get the very best options from that class: Francisco Rodriguez, Brian Fuentes and Juan Cruz. Simply signing middle relievers to large deals won’t guarantee much of anything. (If you don’t believe me, ask Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota.)

But signing all three—Rodriguez, Fuentes and Cruz—would go a long way to tilting the balance in the N.L. East in the Mets’ favor. Conversely, failure to do so could leave the Mets in the exact same position in 2009—or worse.

Repoz Posted: October 02, 2008 at 02:59 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets

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   1. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2008 at 03:34 PM (#2964522)
But signing all three—Rodriguez, Fuentes and Cruz--would go a long way to tilting the balance in the N.L.
I believe all three of them will be type A free agents. If the Mets did this, unfortunately, the Dbacks would end up with a pretty low draft pick for Cruz. But yes, I agree the Mets should sign all three of them.
   2. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 03:39 PM (#2964526)
I believe all three of them will be type A free agents. If the Mets did this, unfortunately, the Dbacks would end up with a pretty low draft pick for Cruz. But yes, I agree the Mets should sign all three of them.

And this is a major downside. Mets could sure use draft picks.

But you don't save money on medical treatment for a gunshot wound to save money for retirement.
   3. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 03:41 PM (#2964527)
I just wrote a piece that said yes to Cruz, no to the other relievers and yes to Sabathia. The Mets have about $40 million to spend (2009 dollars, I don't worry about payroll beyond then if I'm a team with the Mets resources). You can't expect them to eat Schoeneweis and Castillo, and they're eating Castillo. Back to the Giants. Sigh.
   4. Craig in MN Posted: October 02, 2008 at 03:42 PM (#2964528)
Massive Expenditure on Relief

Funny, that's how Congress is trying to suck-proof the economy, too. If the Mets are smart, they'll take a couple months to see how that works for the nation before following that plan.
   5. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2964553)
I just wrote a piece that said yes to Cruz, no to the other relievers and yes to Sabathia. The Mets have about $40 million to spend (2009 dollars, I don't worry about payroll beyond then if I'm a team with the Mets resources).

I love Sabathia, don't get me wrong. But then what is your bullpen?

Cruz
Heilman?
Schoeneweis?
Feliciano???
Ayala????
Stokes?????????
Parnell?

Seriously. Not enough.
   6. billyshears Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:15 PM (#2964568)
I heartily endorse the Sabathia/Cruz plan. Not so much on the sign every reliever under the sun plan.
   7. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:15 PM (#2964570)
Not so much on the sign every reliever under the sun plan.

Not every reliever under the sun. The three with the best K-rates by far.
   8. billyshears Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:38 PM (#2964599)
Not every reliever under the sun. The three with the best K-rates by far.


If I were to spend $30 mil on relievers this winter, those are the 3 guys I would get for the money. I agree with you that those guys are good pitchers, but I just don't trust relievers enough to spend that kind of money on them. Together, those three pitchers will not pitch as many innings as Sabathia and will likely cost $10 mill more annually than Sabathia. K-Rod and Fuentes themselves will likely cost more annually than Sabathia. Would you really prefer any combination of those three players to Sabathia? Building a bullpen through free agency is notoriously difficult. Throwing a boatload of money at the problem may make it more likely that you fixe the problem, but that doesn't mean that you will have spent your money wisely.
   9. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2964603)
Heilman, Ayala and Feliciano all have great track records except for 2008. The Mets were unlucky with the bullpen this year, that's all there is to say. The D-Rays bullpen this year was largely the same as it was last year and just about everyone pitched better than they had last year. The Indians and Mets experienced the opposite. As for Schoeneweis, sure, trade that guy.
   10. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:51 PM (#2964617)
I also have Rivera in left as an F-Mart stopgap and Murphy at second, where he's going to play again in the AFL. That leaves about $10 million to take on in-season. I guess posting that piece here is sort of redundant now.
   11. The Essex Snead Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:56 PM (#2964624)
Dopey Question Alert -- are there any guys in the farm system that might be able to provide relief help?
   12. The Essex Snead Posted: October 02, 2008 at 04:58 PM (#2964628)
More signings on the level of a Juan Rivera (if that's who Salfino's referring to) are urgent & key -- man in Mets front office cannot live on big-ticket purchases and waiver-wire fodder alone.
   13. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:00 PM (#2964633)
Simply signing middle relievers to large deals won’t guarantee much of anything. (If you don’t believe me, ask the Orioles.)

Also, why didn't the Mets put a claim on Bradford in August? Not sure how waiver claims work but wouldn't they had a chance to pick up him before the Rays?
   14. James SC Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:00 PM (#2964634)
The Show is a reasonable LOOGY that can be traded/dealt/kept, but just not relied upon to get an inning of work in the 8th or 9th from. He is not really "THE" problem with the pen, he was just a symptom of a pen that almost every one of them could only be used situationally to be remotely effective.

My Mets plan for the pen would be:

Stay at Big League Level:
Ayala
Sanchez

Stay at Big/Minor Level:
Smith
Stokes
Niese
Muniz
Knight
Figueroa
Rincon

Maybe:
Shoenweis
Heilman

These two guys both have their uses. Heilman could return next year as our best guy in the pen, but I am not sure that this is the team he can do that with at this point. Shoenweis is a decent LOOGY and if the Mets want to milk as much value out of him as they can I don't see a problem. Sanchez had a rough finish to the season, but pitched pretty well most of the season until he hit the wall, not to surprising since he missed the last two years and had a slow ST.

That gives our pen the following
Ayala
Sanchez
3 slots for Heilman/Shoenweis/Best From Minors

I would then bring in two guys from FA to be my closer and setup guy and that would be Rodriguez to close and Fuentes/Cruz would be great setup options. If we can have the 8th/9th inning as set roles, Ayala/Sanchez/Smith/Shoenweis/Muniz for example could give us a very nice set of depth when they are pitching in roles that are not as demanding as they have to today on a regular basis.
   15. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:04 PM (#2964636)
Simply signing middle relievers to large deals won’t guarantee much of anything. (If you don’t believe me, ask the Orioles.)

In this case, however, the Mets are signing two closers and a middle reliever with closer-type K-rates. The Orioles never did anything like this. They also didn't have the strength in the lineup and rotation the Mets have.
   16. rfloh Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:12 PM (#2964647)
Not sure how waiver claims work but wouldn't they had a chance to pick up him before the Rays?


Nope. Since he was in the AL, AL teams get in ahead of NL teams: Tampa was in front of the Mets in the queue.
   17. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2964651)
Heilman's only going to cost $1.5 million million, tops. That's a risk worth taking. Middle-rung relievers often bounce between extremes in performance.
   18. The Essex Snead Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2964653)
Could someone (Mets or otherwise) please turn Heilman into a starter already? I was under the impression that Heilman got jobbed by being too good a reliever after coming up, and seeing modest success, as a starter (a la what folks are trying to do w/ Joba) -- is there more to the story than that?
   19. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:18 PM (#2964656)
Unfortunately, Show's numbers aren't really eatable. So, he'll be back. (His stuff, alas, isn't tradeable, either.)
   20. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:19 PM (#2964657)
Heilman's only going to cost $1.5 million million, tops. That's a risk worth taking.

That's twice as much as Henry Paulson was demanding so he could save the world economy. I'd be skeptical that he's worth it.
   21. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:20 PM (#2964659)
Heilman would look like Joe Bugner after 12rounds with Ali if the Mets turned him into a starter. It's about 30 percent harder to be a starter. (Just ballparking, guys, don't slaughter me!)
   22. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#2964660)
That's twice as much as Henry Paulson was demanding so he could save the world economy. I'd be skeptical that he's worth it.

That's funny! Okay, toy boat, toy boat. You all know what I meant. I expect Howard to be one of the two people who comment on my Mets Hot-Stove story.
   23. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:23 PM (#2964661)
Heilman would look like Joe Bugner after 12rounds with Ali if the Mets turned him into a starter. It's about 30 percent harder to be a starter. (Just ballparking, guys, don't slaughter me!)

Agree in the abstract, but that's assuming 2008 is true talent. If true talent is 2005-2007, adding 30% makes him a 4-4.5 ERA starter- and he's actually added a pitch since then. That is more than sufficient as fifth starter.
   24. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:28 PM (#2964669)
I sincerely hope that the Mets spend all winter trying to find guys to pitch 70 innings a year and ignore second base, outfield and the rotation.

Relievers are flaky, sign as many as you like.
   25. Conor Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2964690)
I was under the impression that Heilman got jobbed by being too good a reliever after coming up, and seeing modest success, as a starter (a la what folks are trying to do w/ Joba) -- is there more to the story than that?


It's not exactly like that.

Heilman came up as a starter and was awful. In 2003 and 04 he made 18 starts out of 19 appearances, he pitched 93.3 IP, allowed 70 runs with a K:BB ratio of 73:54. He just wasn't any good.

At that point there wasn't a whole lot of hope for him, but he did have a good minor league track record. He came to camp in 05, won a job as a starter, and was ok. He pitched a one hitter against the Marlins which could have been seen as his coming out party. Overall though, he was ok as a starter; 4.71 ERA in 42 IP, but a 34:13 K:BB ratio. In the middle of his run as the 5th starter, there was a spot where they skipped him in the rotation, and he pitched in relief against Philly; 3 and a third scoreless, 5 Ks. After 2 more starts they put him in the pen, and the rest is history.

You can point at this good K:BB ratio in those 42 innings as a starter to start 05, but his overall track record as a major league starter was very poor. At that point he was 26; he wasn't really a kid anymore. So I don't think it was the wrong move to try him in the pen, and then when he excelled there, I didn't see a reason to convert him.
   26. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:44 PM (#2964697)
I'd love to see what Derek Lowe could on this club...
   27. JPWF13 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:46 PM (#2964703)
pitched a one hitter against the Marlins which could have been seen as his coming out party. Overall though, he was ok as a starter; 4.71 ERA in 42 IP, but a 34:13 K:BB ratio.


I saw most of those games, his turnaround was dramatic- stuffwise more so than immediate results, at the time (to me) the decision THEN to move him to the pen was baffling, the best analogy I can think of is if the Mets THIS year had suddenly decided to pull the plug on Pelfrey and move him to the Pen after his July 3rd start.
   28. and Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:50 PM (#2964709)
The Mets should sign Leo Mazzone, assign him a business guy with a checkbook and tell him to go build a bullpen. He doesn't have to worry about starters, just get as many guys as you can to spring training and start working with them.

Oh, and sign Sabathia too.
   29. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:54 PM (#2964713)
Oh, and sign Sabathia too.

He wants to hit. So the AL is out. Who's left? Yes, the Dodgers, but name the last time the Dodgers won a bidding war. They will back down quickly. The Cubs won't do it. The Diamondbacks don't play that game. Really, it's going to be Mets vs. Giants if the Mets want in on it, which they damn well better want.
   30. Conor Posted: October 02, 2008 at 05:57 PM (#2964717)

I saw most of those games, his turnaround was dramatic- stuffwise more so than immediate results, at the time (to me) the decision THEN to move him to the pen was baffling, the best analogy I can think of is if the Mets THIS year had suddenly decided to pull the plug on Pelfrey and move him to the Pen after his July 3rd start.


Pelfrey is a really good comparison, since they both had struggled for a while after being well thought of prospects.

Unfortunately, I was in school at the time and I couldn't watch the Mets games on TV until I got back, so I didn't see many of the Heilman starts.

I still remain unconvinced that the Mets should have left him in the rotation; I feel like he would have ended up in the pen at some point no matter what, but I obviously have no proof of that.
   31. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2964722)
I realize most teams probably won't need a closer, but won't Fuentes want to close somewhere?
   32. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:06 PM (#2964727)
I realize most teams probably won't need a closer, but won't Fuentes want to close somewhere?
Especially somewhere where he can close out a playoff clinching win on the last day of the season?
   33. Swoboda is freedom Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:11 PM (#2964731)
He wants to hit. So the AL is out.

When the Yanks stop by waving their huge checkbook, I think he may rethink the hitting bit.
Look, if the money is equal, he picks an NL team, but money usually wins out.

He also is a California guy and he wants to be on the West Coast. There are a lot of factors.
   34. PreservedFish Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:19 PM (#2964736)
Heilman pitches exclusively from the stretch now. I think I'm the only person on earth to have noticed this. Am still very confused about why fans keep bringing up the idea to make him a starter. It would be a nightmare.
   35. Dan Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2964738)
Heilman pitches exclusively from the stretch now. I think I'm the only person on earth to have noticed this. Am still very confused about why fans keep bringing up the idea to make him a starter. It would be a nightmare.

Converting Dempster back into a starter was supposed to be a disaster too. Same with Wellemeyer, Looper, and a few others. You never really know until you try it.
   36. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:22 PM (#2964739)
I love Sabathia, don't get me wrong. But then what is your bullpen?

You don't need a bullpen with Sabathia. He'll throw 130 complete games. Johan can throw the other 32.
   37. and Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2964742)
Mets rotation: Santana, Sabathia, Pelfrey

The rest of the time just give it to whoever seems to be the hot hand. Forget bullpen by committee - it's pitching staff by committee (which, it always has been, of course.)
   38. HowardMegdal Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:25 PM (#2964744)
Heilman pitches exclusively from the stretch now. I think I'm the only person on earth to have noticed this. Am still very confused about why fans keep bringing up the idea to make him a starter. It would be a nightmare.

Three pitches. Good K-rate. Decent track record in previous attempts. Nothing to lose.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:33 PM (#2964751)
Nothing to lose.

I suppose that's right. If we're talking about him being "in the mix" for the 5th spot
   40. billyshears Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2964757)
If true talent is 2005-2007, adding 30% makes him a 4-4.5 ERA starter- and he's actually added a pitch since then.


Whatever pitch Heilman added in 2008, he should subtract.
   41. MSalfino Posted: October 02, 2008 at 06:49 PM (#2964771)
Whatever pitch Heilman added in 2008, he should subtract.

Meatball.
   42. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: October 02, 2008 at 07:00 PM (#2964781)
Especially somewhere where he can close out a playoff clinching win on the last day of the season?


One of the most respected, even-tempered and tolerant posters on this site publicly announced just a few days ago that your inability to refrain from condescension, mockery and juvenile humor had driven him for the first time ever to resort to the "ignore" feature and yet you still can't stop, can you? Remember when you swore to turn over a new leaf after the Rob Base blow-up led to his being banned and your being warned? Your level of obnoxiousness is right there again, levski. Perhaps it's time for round two of introspection.
   43. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2964785)
Kevin uses the ignore feature?
Damn, touchy Mets fans.

Oh, you must mean Sam. Really? I missed that.
Can't argue with Sam, I do deserve it

Anyhow, Sam will never see this
But I feel bad for Sam [that the Mets lost]. I really do.
Of all posters here, he's one of my top 3 most favoritest
   44. manchestermets Posted: October 02, 2008 at 08:37 PM (#2964981)
What draft picks would the Mets get as compensation for losing Ollie?
   45. JPWF13 Posted: October 02, 2008 at 09:09 PM (#2965037)
Especially somewhere where he can close out a playoff clinching win on the last day of the season?


your inability to refrain from condescension, mockery and juvenile humor had driven him for the first time ever to resort to the "ignore" feature and yet you still can't stop, can you?


See I can't tell if Levski was ragging on the Mets or Fuentes with that post, or both...
by any of those three ways, it doesn't come close to Rob Base making light of Lidle's death - or even anything Base said about Levski...

... and now I hope I never feel the urge to defend Levski again.

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