Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 Preview: Bullpen

Pedro Feliciano
WHIP: 1.335
Chinese Zodiac: Dragon
Pedro Feliciano is, in my opinion, one of the more overlooked Mets. His value as a lock-down, late innings left-handed specialist is immense. One of the major criticisms of Willie Randolph’s management is his use of a bullpen, and a lot of what people mean by that is his habit of using Feliciano in random situations, for varying numbers of innings. According to occasional comments made in the media by other Mets, Feliciano is kind of a character in the clubhouse, but he gets fairly little attention of his own.

Aaron Hielman
WHIP: 1.274
Chinese Zodiac: Horse
For all the changes to the Mets rotation, both contemplated and made, using Heilman as a starter was never one of them. The theory is that Heilman has more value as a good reliever than a bottom of the rotation starter. However, even though everyone has been saying that for years, Heilman still admits that he would be happier starting. I wonder if a similar change, from the rotation to the bullpen, might be in the future of Mike Pelfrey (who has “won” the 5th starter’s job while El Duque continued to work in extended spring training), who might also benefit from it.

Scott Schoeneweis
Chinese Zodiac: Ox
Schoeneweis was a horrendous last year, although he was pitching with a severed tendon in his foot. He also claims, credibly, that the steroids he took were part of legitimate medical treatment. As I promised, if he has a good year, I will write him a letter apologizing for saying bad things about him on the internet. It still irks me that he got the deal they wouldn’t give Chad Bradford.

Joe Smith
WHIP: 1.556
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Last season, his rookie year, Smith made the camp out of spring training, did ok for a while, regressed, got sent to the minors, and then came back to the big league team near the end of the year and was fairly unimpressive. Smith’s spring also had a disappointing start, but he heated up at the end of the Grapefruit league and made the team for a second year in a row. Apparently, he bet a stake dinner with Duaner Sanchez that he (Smith) would start the year in the minors, and Duaner would make the big league club. Aside from owing Sanchez steaks, things are looking up for Smith.

Jorge Sosa
WHIP: 1.455
Chinese Zodiac: Snake
Although Heilman remains stuck in the bullpen, Sosa is still part of the conversation about the 5th starting job. Last season, with El Duque injured and Pelfery pitching badly, Sosa came roaring out of the minors and won a nice string of games as a starter, before running into problems and being moved into the bullpen. In retrospect, Sosa’s weird little dominant streak went a long way towards masking the problems of the ’07 Mets.

Billy Wagner
WHIP: 1.016
Chinese Zodiac: Pig
Oh, Billy Wagner. On paper, Wags seems like one of the best closers in the National League, and nervous as he sometimes makes me, I am guess I am still happy to have him, over most other options. This season, the major concern with Wagner is a weekly radio spot that he has agreed to do with ESPN. Everyone’s thinly disguised fear is that it is only a matter of time before he does something like call out Reyes for a lack of hustle on the air, or otherwise lands the club in controversy.

Matt Wise
WHIP: 1.261
Chinese Zodiac: Rabbit
Came from Milwaukee in the off-season, seems pretty good. I don’t have much else to say about him.

Duaner Sanchez
WHIP: 1.374
Chinese Zodiac: Rooster
After Sanchez injured his arm in a taxi cab in ’06 they put it back together with screws. If Sanchez can get back, at any point, at anything like how he was pitching before he went down, it will be an immense asset for the Mets. So far, he seems ok given the circumstances: he is beginning the year in extended spring training, might be with the club shortly.

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