Digging into the decision to outright Kyle Farnsworth

Kyle FarnsworthLate Wednesday night the Mets cut ties with Kyle Farnsworth, saving the remainder of his contract and earning the ire of the veteran reliever. The Mets are off the hook for the rest of his $1 million contract. What they did was perfectly within their rights but it seems like nothing more than a financially-motivated, penny-pinching move – one that left Farnsworth understandably upset. Here’s how Mike Puma of the New York Post reported it:

Asked about his plans, Farnsworth said, “Hopefully find a team to play against this team.”
He added: “I’m very bitter right now.”

Farnsworth had been the team’s closer for a while this season, taking over for Jose Valverde, who took over for Bobby Parnell. In his last game with the club, which happened on May 12, Farnsworth worked a scoreless ninth inning and picked up his third save of the year.

The veteran had a 3.18 ERA, compared to a 3.86 ERA for Mets’ relievers as a group. He did have one weakness in his game in that he was not suited to pitch in back-to-back games. Five times this season, Farnsworth pitched in consecutive games and in those outings, he allowed 3 ER in 3.1 IP. In games where he had at least one day between outings, Farnsworth gave up 3 ER in 13.2 IP, good for a 1.98 ERA.

It seems weird to think that the Mets could not manipulate their roster to ensure that Farnsworth was given a day of rest between outings. The same team that has no trouble making sure their LOOGY faces one of the highest percentages of LHB in the majors should have been able to make this adjustment with ease. Even without extra preferential treatment, Farnsworth was still better than the average reliever on the team and certainly better than the LOOGY.

Overall, my reaction to this move is one of ambivalence. It’s troubling that the Mets are continuing their pattern of not addressing the real trouble with their bullpen – managing it to maximize the effectiveness of the guy who pitches the fewest amount of innings and who faces the fewest batters, all other pitchers be damned.

But Farnsworth is not the future of this team and his presence will not make or break the 2014 club. It’s past time that the Mets start giving chances to their young pitchers and this will open up a spot for Josh Edgin, who will hopefully establish himself as a pitcher who can pitch on back-to-back days while facing both lefties and righties.

In an ideal world, Edgin settles in and pitches well as a normal reliever in the next two weeks. Then, when Dillon Gee gets activated from the DL, Jacob deGrom moves from the rotation into the pen and the Mets cut ties with the LOOGY who has to be manipulated more than Farnsworth and who has pitched worse, too.

As for Farnsworth, I fully expect him to wind up on the Phillies. There he would join a team comprised of many other players his age and give him a chance to extract revenge on the Mets. It seems like an ideal fit for player and team.

As for the Mets, perhaps that roughly $750K that they saved by saying goodbye to Farnsworth will go towards paying a shortstop. Wouldn’t that be nice?

9 comments for “Digging into the decision to outright Kyle Farnsworth

  1. Jerry Grote
    May 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Not concerned that Farnsworth is pissed off. The Mets breathed life into his dead career.

    I don’t share Brian’s assumption that Farnsworth couldn’t have stuck with this team for some time. He was inexpensive (although I also pointed out that he wasn’t capable of going back-to-back), he had a pretty established track record of a WHIP around 1.35-1.4 which isn’t the worst ever, and a FIP around 4.

    Is Josh Edgin that much better a choice? Not really. His FIP is around 4.2, his WHIP last year was 1.32. Younger doesn’t mean better, it just means younger. I mean, yeah, Farnsworth has established he isn’t going to be lights out but really nothing about Josh Edgin indicates to me that he will be any better.

    His ERA+ sits well below 100. Vic Black can’t control the strike zone. German, Familia, and even my boy Mejia all have control issues as well.

    Bottom line? The organization gets no room from me on this issue. They should have kept Hawkins and I see Farnsworth as Hawkins-lite. But hey, lets go forward with a bunch of youngsters. Why not. Track record apparently never has been nor ever will be relevant to this team.

    • May 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Just to be clear – see no reason that Farnsworth couldn’t have been a solid member of the 2014 team. I would have wagered every penny I owned – from the moment he signed to the moment he was outrighted – that he would not be on the 2015 team.

      • Jerry Grote
        May 15, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Nothing about your post indicated he wasn’t a player that could have stayed with the Mets … true enough.

        Here’s the WHIP for most of our staff –

        Wheeler: 1.6
        Mejia: 1.58
        Torres: 1.52
        Familia: 1.36
        Rice: 1.65

        The team will cut or release two of the five guys with an established ability to stay around that 1.3 WHIP in the next month. That leaves Niese, Gee and German (who has never shown this ability before his 18 innings this year).

        Over the last five years, Farnsworth is a 117 ERA+, a 3.46 FIP and a 1.19 WHIP.
        Over the last three years, Farnsworth is a 91 ERA+, a 3.97 FIP and a 1.37 WHIP.

        We don’t value veterans. We placed no value on Hawkins, preferred our “magic beans” players we have in-house constantly over players that have an established track record of performance. None of the veterans are expensive and on a relative basis are in fact cheap.

        What is expensive is keeping young players around. But nobody wants that story told.

        • Eric
          May 15, 2014 at 11:50 am

          Farnsworth didn’t save that game at Yankee Stadium. Duda did. And while his ERA may have been respectable, he should never have been the closer. No problem with cutting him to save money and give a younger guy a shot, although I would have preferred someone like Socolovich or Eveland who both have outperformed Edgin at AAA. But if Edgin can pitch like he did the 2nd half of last season, it’s a no brainer. We’ll see. The biggest issue will always be TC’s ineptitude at managing the pen – regardless of who is back there.

          • Jerry Grote
            May 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm

            couple of quick things:

            He didn’t walk the batter and that is part of his job. He pitched it in order for the batter to put the ball into play; then Lucas Duda did what he is paid to do. Catch the ball and throw it to someone else.

            And he didn’t ask to be the closer. That goes to your idiotic manager, that has absolutely no clue as to how to manage a bullpen.

  2. Metsense
    May 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Kyle Farnsworth signed a contract that allowed the Mets to cut ties with him within 45 days of being on the roster. In those 42 days, he led the team in saves, was second in holds, second in reliever ERA, fifth in WHIP and ties for first in relief WAR. When he signed his contract, he expected to be paid if he performed. He performed and got cut. The fact he was cut had nothing to do with his performance. It appears it had everything to do with money, or in the Mets case, lack of it.
    In my opinion, this is the most embarrassing move the Mets have made since the Randolph firing in the middle of the night. It makes them look cheap and not honorable.
    It proves to me that this team is not financially sound. I know he had a contract but if I was the player’s union I would demand a full investigation of the financial stability of this franchise. The Wilpon’s owning the Mets, a flagship franchise in the largest market, is not in the best interests of baseball. This was a disgrace, from closer to close out in three days! Farnsworth is a human being and didn’t deserve this.
    It explains to me why Drew wasn’t signed, Hawkins wasn’t signed and Davis wasn’t traded for Joyce (Joyce made more money). They don’t have the capital to support this franchise and I recently read that they needed to borrow another 25M which has since been paid back. I also read that Saul Katz wants to sell his share (then quickly denied) so I can believe that there is a financial strain.
    As a fan, I don’t really care about if we can afford or not afford players. I care if the players are worth what we are paying them. The Farnsworth move did not strengthen this team,it weakened it, and if $750,000 is too risky in a world of 100M contracts then I don’t think this team is suitably funded.

    • Patrick Albanesius
      May 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      I agree with you Metsense in how this move is perceived, rather than it’s actual impact. It’s a clean up situation to save a few bucks. That said, Farnsworth wasn’t making or breaking this pen. Since Selig just mentioned the other day that he has full faith in the Wilpons, he is either complicit, doesn’t care because he’s leaving, or honestly believes the Wilpons are doing what’s right for this organization. None of those options make me thing well of this commissioner. How you conduct yourself, especially during messy situations, is very telling. The Mets franchise just revealed a lot about where their priorities are.

  3. Name
    May 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The decision to cut Farnsworth even surprised me. At first, i had the same reaction as Farnsworth and I felt for him as a human being. Even though I doubted and disliked him from day 1, he has outperformed guys like Valverde and Rice this season, although his secondary stats and the stats from the past few seasons indicate he was pitching way over head and due for a regression.

    However, i thought the move gave a lot of insight on the relationship between TC and Alderson. There may be much less communication that most fans think. If Sandy’s intentions were to release Farnsworth all along, then TC shouldn’t have thrust him into high leverage situations. It’s easier to justify releasing a middle reliever than a guy that TC named as one of the names for the closer committee just a few days ago.

    Secondly, if I were Abreu or Dice-K and I signed that 45 day waiver, i’d quickly call up my agent and tell them to start lining up new opportunities because I’d wager there’s a good shot the same thing would happen to me. I’m pretty confident Abreu signed that waiver, but not quite sure if Alderson was able to convince Dice-K to do it, because he was already unhappy to sent to AAA to start the season.

    Oh, and congrats to Josh Edgin for making it back. I wasn’t sure if he would ever get another opportunity. And the best part is that it *may* finally pave the path for Rice to finally to be booted off the team!

  4. TOM
    May 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I felt that Kyle Farnsworth did well enough in his 45 day audition to at least stayted till the end of the season. I would not have cut him just to only pay $250,000 of his $1,000,000 salary for 2014. OK. I get it. He is 38 and not going to be in the team’s long term plan after this season but only cut him based on performance not money. This cut looked much more of a financial move than performance move. Mets could have kept him till the trading deadline and see then if they could involve him in a trade for prospects. I am sure for the rest of his reasonable 2014 salary that some team in need of bullpen help would have traded for him. Mets surely will be out of the playoff race by late July anyway. Once Matt Harvey went down last August the team should have not bothered at all with free agents like the Grandyman etc.

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