2012 Mets don’t need a second lefty in the pen, they need Bob Myrick

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could taste it? And the longer you go without the item, its appeal only increases exponentially? Sometimes when you get that item, it becomes a watershed day in your life. Like when you got your first bike or your first car or your first big promotion. And other times when you get what you longed for, it only turns into a bitter disappointment because the item couldn’t possibly match the expectations you built up for it in your mind.

I would like to think that Terry Collins is experiencing that second sensation right now. See, for the entire time that he has been here, Collins has gone on and on and on about wanting a second lefty in the bullpen. Recently he got that second lefty when Jeremy Hefner went on the paternity list (sounds like he got busted on one of those daytime TV shows where they try to determine who the father is) and the Mets promoted Robert Carson to take his place.

Now, the point of this post is not to belittle Carson, who one day might grow up to become the next Arthur Rhodes. It’s just that he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carson is the lefty they called up and Carson is the lefty who got in the game last night and gave up another run – making him basically like every other lefty reliever the team has employed this season. Let’s take a look at the 2012 lefty relievers for the Mets.

  IP ER ERA
Tim Byrdak 30.2 15 4.40
Josh Edgin 15.2 9 5.18
Robert Carson 3.1 3 8.10
Justin Hampson 1.1 0 0.00
Garrett Olson 0.1 4 108.00
Total 51.1 31 5.44

Now, generally I try to look for the positives but looking at this list there’s only one thought that can legitimately come to mind: It’s an entire collection of suck.

Collins had some success last year with Tim Byrdak, as the veteran lefty posted a 3.82 ERA and a 1.407 WHIP. Whatever success Byrdak did enjoy was a direct result of Collins getting him to face a LHB 65% of the time. Most lefty relievers will face an equal number of lefty and righty batters, so Byrdak facing a righty only 35 percent of the time was quite a feat. Byrdak allowed an .857 OPS to RHB last year, so Collins was wise to limit his exposure to righties. But the end result was the Mets carried a pitcher on their roster for the entire season who pitched 37.2 innings.

Fast forward to this year and we saw that Byrdak’s best period of success was when Collins used him to face just one batter and he retired the lefty. He was so good at this that Collins used him 12 times in 17 days in this role. In somewhat related news – the rest of the bullpen fell apart in this time period and Byrdak eventually wound up on the disabled list, perhaps with a career-ending injury.

A lot of people like to romanticize the past in baseball, saying how the game was so much better XX number of years ago. Generally that’s a big pile of, well, the performance of the Mets bullpen lefties in 2012.

But one thing that is unquestionably worse today is bullpen management, where guys like Collins manage to optimize the performance of their situational lefty. Who cares if your LOOGY is great in 40 IP if it causes the rest of your relievers to be placed in sub-optimal roles over longer appearances? It’s like having beautiful cuff links on a flannel shirt that you purchased in 1987, which is full of holes and is two sizes too small now.

It doesn’t make sense.

So, if managing for one situational lefty can ruin a bullpen, imagine what fun it could be to have two of them on your roster at the same time! Especially since the second lefty is quite likely a worse pitcher than the first guy. And this will also be the one that you try to use in low leverage situations who ends up throwing gasoline on the already raging fire because he has to face RHB in that situation.

If I could say one thing to Terry Collins it would be – fire Dan Warthen. But if I could say a second thing, it would be to stop chasing the platoon advantage with your relievers and instead field a bullpen with the seven best guys you possibly can and if none of them are lefties, then so be it.

I have hopes that Edgin will be one of those seven guys in 2013. My dream is that he turns into a closer or a 2010-2011 vintage Jonny Venters. But right now I would settle for him turning into Bob Myrick or Kevin Kobel or Ed Glynn – a lefty reliever who could go 1 or 2 IP per time, regardless of who was coming to the plate in a particular inning and still post an ERA+ over 100.

If 1979 me found out that 2012 me was hoping that my team could turn out someone like Glynn or Myrick I have no doubt that 1979 me would be horrified. And 1979 me had watched a lot of awful baseball that season and wasn’t easily horrified.

The Colorado Rockies are trying to buck convention by going to a four-man pitching rotation. No one has been overwhelmed by the results so far. Still, the Rockies have turned out lousy pitching staffs for 20 years now, despite spending top draft picks on pitchers year after year after year. Their ballpark puts them behind the 8-ball in their attempts to develop a quality staff. But if you try the same thing for 20 years and it never works – by all means try something else!

The way the Mets are running their bullpen in 2012 doesn’t work and adding a second lefty is not going to help things. So take a cue from the Rockies and try something different. In my mind the two biggest usage problems are managing for the platoon advantage and asking pitches to go longer outings on a regular basis.

I would like to see the Mets demand their relievers to go a full inning each outing. And furthermore I would not have them pitch a second inning unless the game was a blowout in either direction. If the Mets are down by eight runs, by all means have Manny Acosta pitch a second inning. If the Mets are up eight runs, there’s no reason Ramon Ramirez can’t pitch both the eighth and ninth.

This also means if Jon Rauch retires the first two batters, you don’t take him out because a lefty is coming to the plate. And for the love of everything good in this world, it doesn’t mean that because Roger Bernadina strides to the plate that you jump through hoops to get a lefty reliever into the game.

Managing to optimize the performance of their LOOGY has led the Mets to have a bullpen ERA of 4.33 last year and 4.98 this year. Compare that to the 3.80 ERA of 1978 and the 3.40 ERA of 1979. And it’s not like those teams were loaded in the bullpen or that the run-scoring environment was tremendously different back then. Shoot, the NL in 1979 averaged 4.22 runs per game compared to the 4.25 here in 2012.

It’s just that the 2012 bullpen usage has been deplorable and it’s time for a change.

23 comments for “2012 Mets don’t need a second lefty in the pen, they need Bob Myrick

  1. August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

    1. That run wasn’t really Carson’s fault. JV1 let that ball become a double and the RBI single was a groundball out if the infield wasn’t pulled in because of the runner on third.
    2. I too would love to see Terry worry more about which reliable pitcher to call on rather than which bullpen arm might match up better because they’re all somewhat flawed. Obviously this won’t happen, but I still support that business model.
    3. However, I can’t completely agree to ignore splits. There are some batters with radically different numbers between righties and lefties, and Terry should capitalize on that.

    • August 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

      It’s fine to play matchups with Ryan Howard, who is a threat to take any RHP out of the ballpark. It’s not okay to do it with Roger Berandina.

      • Joel myrick
        August 24, 2012 at 9:32 pm

        Hey Brian most don’t know but my father Bob myrick passed away yesterday August 23rd. He was the most amazing man in the world and very humble. He didn’t talk much about his baseball and me and my brothers weren’t born while he was playing. So we do not know much about it. We just know stories from what people tell us. This made my day to see this. I would love to hear more about him if possible. We know him as a great business man and father but not much about his baseball. He taught many people about the game but just for the love of helping others. Thank you for this article. It means the world to the myrick family. If you have any more stories I would love to hear them

        • August 25, 2012 at 12:32 am

          Hi Joel – thanks for taking the time to comment on this during a difficult time for you. All of us here were saddened to hear the news of your father’s passing and we pass along our condolences to you and your family.

          He had the misfortune of playing on some really bad teams but he was a really good pitcher while he was with the Mets. If he was pitching today he probably would have made a whole lot of money, as teams are always looking for good lefties now.

          He was someone fans really related to because it seemed he gave it everything he had. Sometimes it seemed like his eyes were going to pop out of his head with the effort he was exerting.

          The Mets ended up trading him to the Texas Rangers for Dock Ellis, a former All-Star pitcher who once threw a no-hitter. I think the Mets were looking for a starter and were hoping that Ellis could recapture his former glory. It didn’t really work out for either team.

          He never made it back to the majors after the Mets traded him. I think if he had stayed with New York that he would have gotten another chance. It sounds like he had a successful career after baseball and a lot of guys struggle with that.

        • August 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm

          Joel, Am so sorry about your dad (as Aunt Marsha knows)…….I was one of the many many in the burg whom he taught the game; of course he was not my only mentor, but the main one, and he was way ahead of his time even as children…(great talent/teaching abilities etc). We all wanted to be like Bobby. The way the schools were set up back then, most of us “hung out with” those in our own grades; and the older kids didn’t pay us much attention…Bobby was 2 years ahead of me in school (but he still took the time with endless tips in sports even at the risk of being left behind by his own age peer group). He was one-of-a-kind. Then the icing on the cake was the kind of person he was….some people have to “work up the energy to ‘be good’”. It was just a natural part of him. Though we’re all sad, am happy you and he were father/son. RIP Bobby.

          • August 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm

            Thanks for chiming in with some wonderful memories of Bob Myrick!

        • Bobby Cleveland
          August 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

          Joel, your dad and my brother Rick were in school together and I was two years behind. But because of their relationship, dating back to Woodley Elementary, I knew him well. We played lots of sports together including going to Floyd’s Basketball Camp at USM. It was when we were playing together in Dixie Boys that I decided to try switch hitting. I got in the lefthand batter’s box against Bobby, who started me out with a fastball that I barely saw, and it sounded like a firecracker when it hit Rick’s mitt. The next pitch, he threw another smoker past me but I swung just for the hell of it. On the third pitch, he threw a curve and started it out at my head. After two fastballs, the sight of that thing coming at my noggin had me diving for dirt. Of course, it ended up in the strike zone and I came up looking at the mound. Bobby was grinning at me. I started laughing and Rick, Bobby and I were all laughing. That was the end of that switch hitting B.S. That day I realized that being his teammate and friend was a lot better than being an opponent, he may or may not like. Your dad was something else. We were so proud of him when he made the majors.

          • August 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm

            Great Stuff! Thanks for sharing.

          • Scott Dossett
            August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

            Bobby…that made me laugh…Unfortunately for me, I was always left handed and the very first pitch he threw me was that curve of which you spoke…I think mine started off about a foot in back of my head…I hit the dirt so fast I thought I had broken my shoulder…Strike one ! Bobby’s catcher at the time was Corky Palmer…Cork just looked at me with all of the red dirt plastered where it didn’t belong and just laughed and said “Git up Dossett”. Two pitches later, I fouled one about 120 feet into foul territory (opposite field of course) and then the next pitch was strike three called. So, to this day, after many base hits throughout my playing days…I still brag most about the day I fouled one off the Great Bobby Myrick…R.I.P. Bobby…you were such a great man.

            • August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

              Thanks Scott! I love hearing these first-hand accounts of facing Myrick.

  2. NormE
    August 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I agree that lefty-righty match-ups should be used selectively. The other night TC pulled Edgin with two out and brought in Rauch. There was really no need for it. And then he asked Rauch to go out for the next inning. My feeling is that once Rauch has completed an inning he should rarely be brought out again.
    Whether it was Jerry Manuel or Terry Collins, the Mets have abused their lefties in the pen. I wonder how much this can be chalked up to the general lack of quality in the relief corps?
    One other thought on bullpens: I know that Tony LaRussa is thought of as a great managerial genius, but I truly abhor what he did to the game in terms of micro-managing his bullpen. The games just seem to drag on and on. My wife walks by as I watch the game and asks “Another commercial. That was a fast inning.” My reply is “No, they’re just changing pitchers.” “Again?”

    • steevy
      August 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      LaRussa is the second moste overrated and lucky manager in history(Joe Torre still takes top prize).I know people will point to the WS wins of both but I watched them manage.

  3. Metsense
    August 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Terry Collins has to be held accountable for the use of the bullpen. The Met bullpen has been misused for many years and the constant is Dan Warthen. Maybe that should be the first change. Alderson spent 11.65M this year on bullpen improvements (Fransisco, Rauch, Ramirez). The Rays, who have the third best bullpen spent the same for the entire bullpen. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-rays-bullpen-makes-big-spenders-look-dum/ . One of the major philosophy differences was when Farnsworth came back from DL he wasn’t handed the closer job back. The Mets erroneously do not employ that philosophy. Is Fransisco really the person you want closing in 2013? A total bullpen upgrade is needed (again)).

  4. steevy
    August 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I like TC as a person(and he may be a good guy to keep around in his old job of watching over the farm system).I think he has to go though as Manager of the team,with his whole staff.

  5. August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    FWIW, Mike Francesa is going INSANE on the Mets on WFAN here in New York. Last time I heard him this worked up about the Mets, “we” ended up with Piazza. So there’s hope…

  6. NormE
    August 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    One of the greatest benefits of having left the NY area is not having the bloviations of Francesa pollute the air.

    • steevy
      August 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      No doubt he’s laughing it up,Yankee fan that he is.Ah well,I enjoyed the decade of the 80′s when the Yankees were a laughing stock.

  7. steevy
    August 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    TC starts Bay because he “owns” this pitcher…..in 12 AB’s.Stop playing him!!

  8. steevy
    August 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Luis Castillo was awesome compared to Jason Bay.He hit .274 with .366 OBP for his Met career.Including his last full year where he hit .302 with a .387 OBP and stole 20 bases in 26 attempts.

  9. steevy
    August 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Will the Mets score more than one run in an inning ever again this season??

  10. August 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm
  11. steevy
    August 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    RIP Bob Myrick.

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