It stinks, and it’s not getting better any time soon. (Yeah, I know, I’m not telling you anything new)
The Mets are still trying to gut out the rest of their season, but thanks to countless bullpen meltdowns, their spirit and resolve are being tested each day.
Take the last two games for instance. Each time the Mets would take a lead late in the game, only to let the bullpen just give the game away.
On Tuesday, while scratching and clawing behind another so-so effort from Mike Pelfrey, the Mets would eventually take a 6-5 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals going to the bottom of the seventh inning. In the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals would register six runs on five hits and two walks-all with two outs-against Josh Stinson, Tim Byrdak and D.J. Carrasco. The Mets went from up one to down five in the blink of an eye.
In Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals, the script started out the same. The Mets, behind a gutsy five innings from Chris Schwinden, would crumble late once again. Schwinden left the game with a 4-3 lead and the bullpen did its job in the sixth inning holding down the fort for one inning. But once again, the Mets broke down in the seventh inning. Miguel Batista would get the first two outs and then would give up a single to Albert Pujols. Then Daniel Herrera came in and would give up a single to Lance Berkman. Finally, to top it all off, Pedro Beato would come in and promptly serve up a three-run home run to David Freese. From up 4-3 to down 6-4. Game over.
This bullpen has been brutal, and they now have the NL’s worst ERA (4.32) and trail just the Minnesota Twins (4.46) as the worst in baseball.
It is getting increasingly frustrating to fight and scrap in games only to be let down by the bullpen. The look on Terry Collins’ face after Wednesday’s defeat was one of utter disgust and exasperation.
While in the whole scope of things, as far as this season goes, these meltdowns are easier to digest considering where the Mets stand. This is in stark contrast to the 2007 and 2008 seasons when bullpen implosions ultimately cost the Mets a chance at the playoffs.
Regardless of how you digest it, changes have to be made.
While the re-signing of Byrdak this week can be considered perplexing, he has done a solid if unspectacular job this year. Here’s keeping our finger’s crossed he can keep it up next year.
But outside of Byrdak, many members of this bullpen should be considered persona non grata.
On the top of the list of difficult decisions to make is what to do with Bobby Parnell.
We have all marveled at the stuff Parnell possesses, but unfortunately the mental makeup of Parnell is what holds him back. Will that change in a year? Doubtful. It may be time to pull the cord on the Parnell experiment.
Another interesting name to consider is Pedro Beato. Ever since July he has been dreadful. As a Rule 5 draft pick, the Mets had to keep Beato on the roster all year, or risk losing him back to the Orioles. Beato needs more seasoning, and with him having a full year’s of service with the Mets, he would now have options. If he doesn’t come back to camp reinvigorated, the Mets can at least send him to the minors if need be.
With the way Manny Acosta has pitched of late, I think you owe it to him to bring him back. After all, he has been the Mets’ most reliable and dependable arm in the bullpen for months. While making him the closer is questionable, he should be brought back nevertheless.
Considering how stabilizing Jason Isringhausen was to this club throughout the season and how the team has struggled without him of late, no one should be opposed to the idea of taking another flier on him next year with the hope he still has some juice left in his arm.
Other bullpen arms the Mets should say goodbye to without a second thought include: Carrasco, Ryota Igarashi plus Stinson and Herrera, despite what upside they may possess.
At first, the mere idea of bringing in a top-notch closer, like a Heath Bell, may not sound smart-at least economically. It, however, may have to be done to bring stability to a corps in desperate need of it. For better or worse, the Mets’ bullpen has not been the same since they traded away Francisco Rodriguez. Yes, the move was made out of necessity, but the Mets are paying the price for it now.
So, from top to bottom, wholesale changes need to be made. This unit simply can’t get out of their own way.
And while the Mets still may not be playoff material next year, Sandy Alderson owes it to Collins, the club and the fans to assemble a better bullpen. One that is competent and one that can hold down leads with more frequency.