January 30, 2013
Wednesday, January 30
The Mets have been busy over the past week, meeting with Scott Boras about Michael Bourn and reeling in Scott Atchison on a minor-league deal. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, whether Bourn ultimately lands in Queens or elsewhere, general manager Sandy Alderson has at least one other move up his sleeve.
After inking Atchison, Mets have room for more bullpen upgrades
As of right now, only three pitchers are virtually guaranteed spots in manager Terry Collins’ bullpen. Right-hander Frank Francisco is likely to be the Opening Day closer, with fellow northpaw Bobby Parnell handling the primary set-up duties and spelling him when necessary. Left-hander Josh Edgin, who recorded 30 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings and held like-handed hitters to a .233 TAv, should be in line for specialist duties, with a chance to earn set-up looks as well.
Beyond that trio, there is a plethora of candidates and little certainty about which of them will break camp with the major-league squad. Assuming that Shaun Marcum passes his physical, the rotation will feature Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Marcum, Dillon Gee, and Matt Harvey, leaving three relatively inexperienced pitchers to battle for swingman and spot-start work. Jeremy Hefner, whose 3.70 FIP last year was markedly better than his 5.09 ERA, may have the inside track on that job, though Collin McHugh and Jenrry Mejia could make a play for it, too. More likely—as MLB.com beat writer Anthony DiComo suggested in his Inbox column eight days ago—Mejia, who was bumped from the rotation by the Marcum signing, will lead the rotation at Triple-A Las Vegas and be the first pitcher promoted if a member of the fragile starting five gets hurt. Since Hefner and McHugh are older and have much lower ceilings, one of them would be better served in the long-man role than Mejia, who needs a consistent workload to improve.
That’s four spots filled, and either three or four more to go; fortunately, the fifth member of the bullpen seems easy to deduce. If Atchison, who reportedly chose his destination based on the likelihood that he would begin the season in the majors, did not err in his judgment, then he should be in line to capture a middle-inning assignment. A sixth reliever, if Heyman’s report proves prescient, is expected to come from outside of the organization. Suddenly, only one or two openings are up for grabs.
Our own Jason Martinez, who does an outstanding job of projecting all 30 teams’ rosters at MLB Depth Charts, currently has Greg Burke and/or Pedro Feliciano rounding out the staff, with several younger pitchers lurking on the periphery. Burke and Feliciano were both added (or, in Feliciano’s case, brought back) on minor-league pacts earlier this winter: The former worked the 2012 season in the minors for the Orioles (Double-A Bowie) and Marlins organizations (Triple-A New Orleans), and has not appeared in the majors since 2009, while the latter opted to return after spending two years with the Yankees without making a major-league appearance.