Despite having a terrible bullpen, last year at the All-Star break the Mets were 46-40. Shortly after the break, on July 14th, Dan Stack noted that the Mets “rank last in bullpen ERA (4.94), 28th in WHIP (1.48) and 27th in batting average against (.267).” The bullpen is one of the easiest areas to improve around the All-Star break because teams out of the race are willing to deal bullpen parts.
Among others – Francisco Cordero, Justin Germano, Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers were all traded around this time. But the Mets did not make a move, the offense went into the tank, SP went on the DL, the bullpen continued its awful pitching and the Mets’ season was shot.
Fast forward to the present and we see that the Mets have added Lyon as a reliever for the 2013 team. Hey, better late than never! Last year Lyon had a 3.10 ERA and a 1.246 WHIP. Since 2006, the now 33 year old has averaged a 3.59 ERA and a 1.301 WHIP.
It seems safe to say that the Mets would be happy if Lyon could deliver 62 IP of 3.59 ERA this year out of the pen. That would essentially replace the 57.2 IP of 3.59 ERA that Jon Rauch delivered in 2012. The extra bonus is that Rauch was paid $3.5 million for those numbers while Lyon will pull down $750,000 plus roster/performance bonuses that will not exceed $1.55 million.
In 2007, Lyon pitched 74 innings, had a 2.68 ERA and a 1.243 WHIP. He followed that up in 2008 with 4.70 ERA in 59.1 IP and a 1.483 WHIP. You never know what you’re going to get from a middle reliever year to year, so you are definitely better off signing one to an incentive-laden deal like Lyon, rather than guaranteeing money to one like the Mets did last year with Rauch, which worked out better than they had any right to expect.
Was Lyon the best reliever available in free agency this offseason? Probably not. Yet because he was patient, Sandy Alderson picked up a guy who will likely replace one of the team’s top relievers from 2012 and saved money, too. This is the type of move we expect from Alderson. It’s a 180 degree turn from how he assembled his bullpen in 2012 and if we’re lucky, the results will be just as different at the end of the year.
In addition to Lyons, Alderson has made low-cost pickups in Scott Atchison, Greg Burke and LaTroy Hawkins. Aaron Laffey might get some bullpen consideration, too. Those four, combined with Lyon, give the Mets some options and did not cost eight figures in salary, like the 2012 bullpen additions did. So, here’s a tip of the cap to Alderson for seemingly correcting his giant mistake from last year.
Plus, if he can get 175-200 quality innings out of this group, it will likely make up for indulging Terry Collins’ habit by bringing back injured LOOGYs Tim Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano. Please, oh please – may Collins use Josh Edgin simply as a reliever this year!