It’s often said that having too many good players is a nice problem to have. Judging strictly by Spring Training results, that is exactly the dilemma the Mets have in figuring out who makes their bullpen. Through games of Sunday, the Mets have three relievers who have not allowed an earned run, one with an ERA under 1.00 and two with marks under 2.00 ERA. Only the three with a scoreless ERA are guaranteed spots on the team.

Let’s examine two pitchers seemingly on the bubble, although one seems more likely to make the squad. Which one would you prefer?

Pitcher A – 8 games, 10.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 9 Ks
Pitcher B – 10 games, 11.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 10 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 5 Ks

Pitcher A turns 30 this May and has 153.2 IP in the majors under his belt. Last year he was 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA and had 42 Ks in 39.2 IP in the National League.

Pitcher B turned 24 in the offseason. He has yet to pitch a game in the majors. Last year he was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA and had 50 Ks in 59.2 IP in Double-A.

Both pitchers are likely to be lost to other teams if the Mets try to send them to the minors. So, which one would you pick?

Pitcher A is Manny Acosta while Pitcher B is Pedro Beato. Acosta is clearly having the better Spring and he has a major league track record while Beato does not. But speculation is that Beato has a better shot of making the club than Acosta.

We know Francisco Rodriguez is the closer. Tim Byrdak is the LOOGY while D.J. Carrasco is the long man. That leaves four spots up for grabs. Taylor Buchholz has yet to give up a run this Spring. Blaine Boyer has a 0.90 ERA. Bobby Parnell is thought to be the closer of the future. Jason Isringhausen has a 1.29 ERA and is thought to be on the team if his elbow is sound.

Parnell has had the worst Spring of any of the candidates and with an option remaining it makes sense to send him to the minors. But some in the organization want him in the majors learning from Rodriguez and Isringhausen.

Boyer has a 4.63 lifetime ERA in 227.1 IP in the majors but because of his strong Spring, many think he should make the club. Last year he had 29 BB and 29 Ks in 57 IP with the Braves. General manager Sandy Alderson has talked about taking a player’s entire career into account when making roster decisions and if that is the case than Boyer will not make the club. He has very limited upside.

With the information available as we head into the last week of Spring Training, I would set the bullpen as Rodriguez, Isringhausen, Acosta, Beato, Buchholz, Byrdak and Carrasco.

Parnell gets to work on his consistency in the minors while Boyer and Pat Misch move on to other organizations. Both of those guys are welcome to join Triple-A Buffalo if they are not overwhelmed with other offers.

3 comments on “The A-B-C guide to the Mets bullpen

  • Mike Koehler

    You’re not seriously basing ST decisions off 10 innings are you?

    Acosta is known for having straight heat that gets rocked. Parnell is young and is flashing an improved slider. I know which I want.

    • Brian Joura

      No, I’m not backing Acosta based only on ST. But that’s the question that everyone who supports Blaine Boyer making the club should be asked.

      In addition to being better than Parnell in ST this year, Acosta was essentially equal to Parnell in 2010 and has both a better track record and longer history.

      And by keeping Acosta and sending Parnell to the minors – they get to keep both pitchers. This way if Izzy’s elbow goes or Byrdak gets lit up or any other bad scenario happens in the pen – they have Parnell a phone call away. With Acosta they are likely to lose him as he is out of options.

      Bottom line — keeping Acosta and sending Parnell down is the best way to keep both of them.

      Finally – anyone backing Parnell should not be talking about someone else’s straight fastball.

  • Mike Koehler

    I didn’t say I was supporing Boyer either. In fact, if he’s putting up abnormally good numbers now, I imagine he won’t be picked up so quickly through the waiver process as some think. Then again, relievers are a fickle bunch…

    Manny Acosta is a guy who loves throwing straight heat. And as I alluded to in our first live chat, he melts under pressure. This blog seems to also think he walks too many.
    http://longlivesheastadium.blogspot.com/2011/02/2011-scouting-report-40-man-roster.html

    Bobby Parnell is a kid with plus fastball that sometimes sinks and sometimes sits on a tee. But he’s also given up his other off-speed stuff in order to improve his slider this off-season. While he didn’t fair so well against lefties last year (.327 average), the coaching staff apparently has faith he can get enough out in the late innings.

    Right-handed relievers are a dime a dozen and can be picked up pretty much at any time. For that matter, mediocre lefties can be had off the waiver wire or for minor cash considerations too. See Pat Misch and Acosta. If someone goes down/struggles, sign someone else or call up a marginal prospect – NOT MEIJA.

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