Thankfully the 2010 season is just about over and New York Mets fans can begin another off-season of wistfully dreaming of personnel and front office moves to send the Mets back to that foreign land we’ve only heard described as the playoffs.
The buzz around the team lately has been that a fair amount of turnover is expected, including the players. If they can find a way, and we all hope they can, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez will be nightmares from the past.
Feliciano’s numbers – as of Sept. 29 – have been solid at first glance. The crafty lefty is sporting a 2.79 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. He’s even broke his own franchise record of 88 appearances, getting called into his 89th game on Sept. 23.
Feliciano was originally traded onto the Mets in 2002 from the Cincinnati Reds. He threw less than 55 innings between 2002 and 2003, but had obviously developed a reputation as a LOOGY [Lefty One Out GuY] in 2004. That season he recorded a 0.92 WHIP in 12 innings against left-handed batters compared to a 2.37 WHIP in 6.1 innings to right-handed batters.
Throughout his career as a Met, Feliciano has been markedly better against lefty batters than righties. He’s thrown 188 innings to southpaw hitters with a 210:51 strikeout to walk ratio and a 1.04 WHIP. When batters stand on the other side of the plate, he allows substantially more baserunners. His WHIP jumps to 1.7, while his K:BB ratio falls to 131:105 through 183 innings to right-handed batters.
Manager Jerry Manuel tried to placate the lefty’s desire to be more than just a one-hitter pitcher, giving him chances to set up or pitch entire innings. The experiment failed, forcing team officials to move Feliciano back to lefty assignments. His splits look correct: 33 innings, 35:8 K:BB and 0.97 WHIP to lefties compared to 28.1 innings, 21:19 K:BB and 2.08 WHIP to righties. He is also less likely to put men on base or let them score during his first 15 pitches in 2010 – 2.22 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 52.2 innings, compared to 3.38 and 3.25 WHIP during the 8 innings he’s thrown his 16th-30th pitches.
But some of those situational stats are a little more concerning.
He has a 0.30 ERA in 30 innings when he enters with the bases empty. Those numbers spike, however, as more baserunners appear and the further they get. His ERA spikes to 5.17 if any runners are on base, while it grows further to 8.83 in the 17.1 innings Feliciano has thrown with runners in scoring position. If it’s possible to be even worse, his ERA in 3.2 innings with the bases loaded is 9.82 and 17.61 through 7.1 innings with runners in scoring position and two out.
Then again, numbers can be flexed, forced and fudged to “validate” any argument, and considering the overall numbers don’t look abnormal, lets assume Feliciano had a good year. That’s great. In the world of uncertainty that is the bullpen, especially in Queens, having a solid pitcher who knows his role is priceless, or is it?
Feliciano’s tenure with the Mets started affordable, inking a $602 thousand deal for one year in 2007. He signed three more one-year deals in the ensuring seasons, rising to $1 million, $1.6 million and $2.9 million. The lefty is also slowly climbing in age, turning 34 this past August. Sure south paws tend to stay effective longer, but this is a disturbing trend, especially with 2011 in mind. If money was no issue, the Mets brass would probably hang onto the pitcher who’s performed well for their club, but Feliciano is likely going to be seeking another raise. He’s also a borderline Type A free agent, which means the club can offer him arbitration and acquire two draft picks if he doesn’t sign. However, some speculate Feliciano may seek several million in arbitration, still a substantial raise.
There are plenty of other LOOGYs to be had for a more reasonable rate compared to what Feliciano may seek this winter, let alone what he’s making now, but isn’t there something to be said for loyalty?