Sandy Alderson did not hold back in putting a brunt of the blame for last seasons lousy second half on the bullpen. While Alderson had no choice but to move Francisco Rodriguez with the first chance he got, he left the team with subpar options to finish the last two innings of a game. Jason Isringhausen was ok, but struggled at times and was unavailable for the last three + weeks of the season. Parnell was very hitable, though he may have something now with the use of the changeup he has used effectively so far this season. You know there were no options when Manny Acosta got his share of save opportunities.
The Mets have some depth in the bullpen this season that they did not have last year. Ramon Ramirez has pitched ok, despite struggling at times. Rauch has pitched very well, a stark contrast from his tough season in Toronto. Parnell and Tim Byrdak have done a very good job, to this point. In my opinion, the last two spots of the bullpen are interchangable and guys like Acosta and DJ Carrasco will either pitch well or be replaced by somebody else in the organization.
That synopsis suggests that Francisco is the only Mets reliever pitching noticeably poor. Ramirez has not pitched like he did last year for the Giants and Acosta is probably one more shaky appearance away from being DFA'd. Francisco was the choice Alderson made to be the 9th inning guy. You had to go back no further than last year to realize how important of a role that is. It also had to be noted that you can't just put anybody there, and after all the research was put together, the best option was Francisco. He could have made a better case for himself, pitching terribly in spring training. Maybe all those who said "Its spring training, don't be a mong" or "he'll do better when it counts" have realized that this will not work out for much longer. Yes, his velocity is up from spring training, but he is all over the strikezone and based on the results, his strikes are very hittable.
So, many have suggested the Mets go to Parnell or Rauch to replace Francisco temporarily. I don't have a problem with that being Francisco will keep costing the team games as long as he is in the closers role. And in order for Parnell or Rauch to step into that role, it will have to be Francisco who will pitch some important 7th and 8th innings. If he is struggling to get hitters out as a closer, he will do the same in the 7th and 8th innings. He cannot and will not be released, since he is owed another $6.5 million next year after he finishes collecting his $5.5 million from this season. I suggest that he takes on the Acosta role now, usually pitching with nothing on the line but occasionally getting into a big spot out of necessity. Acosta should be DFA'd and the Mets should consider adding another reliever.
Mike MacDougal was just released by the Dodgers, it couldn't hurt to give him a shot. Perhaps it may be time to try of LHP Josh Edgin, who is closing games for AAA Buffalo. And yes, I am going there: here are some trade possibilities that they should at least kick the tires on.
Kevin Gregg really has no spot in the Orioles bullpen. He is 0-1 4.50 ERA, 8 Ks in 10 IP. The Orioles are trying very hard to trade him, as they have pitched extremely well. The price may not be too high. Something would have to be worked out with his 2012 salary and it has to be understood that his 2013 team option will be declined.
Jordan Walden has lost his closer's job in LA to Scott Downs. Walden saved 32 games as a 23 year old rookie last season, but it has to be understood that he is young and has a lot of promise. The Mets would have to get creative if they wanted to make a trade here. Perhaps dip into the lower levels of the minor leagues for a couple of younger prospects, such as Robbie Shields and Juan Lagares, and package that with Matt denDekker or Jordany Valdespin to get this done. It may seem like a lot, but you would have to give up three players to get somebody with Walden's upside. It still may not be enough to pry him away from LA.
Sean Marshall is a pitcher I would want in my bullpen. He will not be available, being the Reds just traded for him and extended him through 2015. Though he is currently not the Reds closer, this is a pitcher the Reds want to have around for a while.
Brett Myers could fill a temporary relief role and help as a starter. He has pitched well as the Astros closer this season, but I would not expect the Mets to pick up the balance of the $11 million he is owed this season. He also has a $10 million team option with a $3 million buyout for next season, something the Mets want no part of. If the Astros get desperate, this is something worth considering towards the trading deadline. Perhaps the Mets try MacDougal and Edgin, getting themselves until June or July. Then, the Astros may just want to unload Myers and the contract is closer to what the Mets would be willing to pay.
26 year old Javy Guerra has struggled for the Dodgers this season. He was sharp last year, saving 21 games mostly in the second half of the season for LA. He lost the job to Kenley Jensen and there is no hiding the fact that LA is looking for relief help.
The middle of the Mets bullpen has, for the most part, gotten the job done this season. Francisco, at least for the time being, needs to pitch some mop up relief and get his confidence back. The Mets will be comprimising the middle relief which has worked by moving Parnell or Rauch into the closers role. They should consider adding another reliever to give them depth for the 7th and 8th innings.