For New York Mets fans, going to the bullpen meant conceding the game in 2012. The team has a few vets in camp who the Mets hope can correct the problem.
The club signed veterans Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins to minor league deals this year. The Mets also got Brandon Lyon for a one-year contract worth $750,000.
“We want to be as effective as we possibly can in the bullpen,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said. “That hasn’t been the case over the last few years. Relief pitching is notoriously unpredictable, but we think with the mix we have and the quality of the veterans we brought in, we should see some definite improvement.”
The Mets closer situation is a mess. Frank Francisco is paid a nice sum to close, but he was shut down in September with elbow inflammation. The pitcher had surgery in December to remove bone spurs and was lax in off-season rehab. He is still shut down.
Lyon especially could make an impact now that Francisco has been shut down with the same right elbow inflammation that ended his season Sept. 16 and ultimately led to December surgery.
Manager Terry Collins says Bobby Parnell is the first guy in line to replace Francisco, should he not be ready to start the season. Parnell is coming off his best season yet, going 5-4 with a 2.49 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 68 2-3 innings.
That said, the organization expects to see rookies catcher Travis d’Arnaud and hurler Zack Wheeler in the Big Apple after a little AAA seasoning. Many fantasy baseball publications have placed the rookie well ahead of veteran John Buck, the anticipated opening day catcher.
On paper the starting rotation looks sound, but the devil is in the details.
Johan Santana is set the make more than $23 million this year, the last of his contract. The lefty’s ERA was 8.27 in his final 10 games in 2012. Will he look like the guy who throw the Mets first no-hitter on June 1 or a broken down old man who finished last season on the disabled list?
Jonathon Niese was fantastic in 2012 going 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA. The oft-injured Shawn Marcum joins the staff at No. 3. Matt Harvey was 3-5 last year with a 2.73 ERA. All of these guys throw strikes.
How soon will Wheeler get the call?
Buck will be backed up by Anthony Recker, a career .152 hitter. D’Arnaud’s only chance of making the major league roster is to win the starting job in camp, organization bosses say that is unlikely.