I Coulda Been a Contenda...I Coulda Been Somebody
Two key components of the Mets 2005 bullpen that could take them from a group of guys that are "serviceable" or that can "get the job done" to being a very good bullpen are Scott Strickland and Grant Roberts. There is obvious uncertainly surrounding them due to the fact that they are coming back from surgeries, but if they show up to spring healthy, it will be a big boon for the Mets bullpen. Not only do they add more depth, but they add some experienced players that have had major league success in the past and depth that is still relatively young.
Strickland will be 29 in April and Roberts will be 27 until September '05. Both guys have always been regarded as players with big upside and they could breakout if given the chance and their health is on their side. For Grant, health has never been on his side. Is there any reason to believe this year will be different? He's always had trouble going on back to back days with some resilience issues with his arm, but who knows, maybe his last surgery rectified his past problems. Strickland has been healthy for his career until he needed Tommy John surgery, but nowadays, there is a pretty good track record of people returning after a year or year and a half after TJ. It seems like it is easier to count who has not had TJ than the people who have had TJ. Scott has a career .224 BAA and has enough stuff that he can dominate at times. As is well documented around the blogsphere, he absolutely dominates righties holding them to a .194 BAA since 2002, but lefites hit him for a .293 BAA clip in the same period. His career K/9 is 9.19 and could be a valuable strikeout guy coming out of the bullpen. Scott has a bit of a control problem and walks entirely too many people, but he is the type of guy that Rick Peterson loves to work with. He's got stuff to overpower people and he has all the tools to be very good set up man. Strickland has put together some good years and if he's healthy, Professor Rick may be able help him realize his potential.
Scott Strickland's Mets stats:
Grant Roberts 2001-2003 seasons:
Grant does not overpower anyone. His K/9 rates are unspectacular and his BAA is not great, but they are not something that concerns me too much. He exhibits solid control and gives up a minimal amount of homeruns for anyone, much less a contact pitcher. In 2001 through 2003 he had only given up five homers in 90 innings, which is good for a .5 HR/9 ratio. He is more of a groundball pitcher and has a 1.42 G/F ratio on his career and could really benefit from the Mets shiny new infield that can flash the leather. Grant can be an effective part of the bullpen and if he's healthy, he can be one reliable reliever. He's had only one healthy half a season in his career and he posted some pretty sharp numbers.
Again, decent K/9 and not a dominating BAA, but he was very effective. He's still young enough that he can rebound to be a good reliever at this stage in his career. Many people, including myself, have kind of put him to the back of their minds because he has never actually been healthy and such a notion is foreign to anyone who has watched the Mets over the past few years. However, Roberts was the #4 rated prospect in 1997, the #1 rated prospect in 1998, the #3 rated prospect in 1999 & 2000, the #5 rated prospect in 2001, and the #8 rated prospect in 2002 according to Baseball America. He obviously has some skill, though he has never achieved the success predicted for him. Things are not looking as bleak around Shea these days so maybe Grant will benefit from some of the good will being thrown around by the baseball gods in Flushing.
For me, these two represent some possible answers to some questions in 2005 bullpen. Chances are that both of them may start the season at AAA in 2005 to get them back on track, but later in the year the biggest impact on the bullpen may come from the three guys coming back from surgeries. Orber, Scott, and Grant can form a solid core of right handed middle relievers that can get people out with three different styles. Throw in DeJean and you have yourself a foundation for pen that can strike some people out and bridge the game from the starters to Looper.
The Mets problem was not their bullpen in 2004. John Franco and Mike Stanton specifically were problems, but they are gone. Between all the guys who came in from the bullpen for the Mets in 2005, they posted a 3.90 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP, 7.45 K/9, 2.10 K/BB, .86 HR/9, and were 24-30 with 31 saves. If you remove Mike Stanton, Jose Parra, R. Bottalico, D. Weathers, Dan Wheeler, John Franco, P. Feliciano, V. Darensbourg, Todd Zeile, and Tyler Yates (simply because he will be out all year), their numbers sure look impressive. In 194.2 innings, they posted a 7.58 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 1.27 WHIP, 2.88 K/BB, .65 HR/9, and a 3.24 ERA. The body of work is not huge when you consider that fact that it is only 37% of the total relief innings last year, but they are still numbers that they churned out. The argument can be made that those situations were not high leverage situations, but no one got the chance and they all preformed in the roles and duties they were asked to do. If you want to take away positives, there are plenty to take. With the above two guys thrown into the mix and healthy, a perceived weakness could turn this bullpen into a source of reliability.
Please. Just say Mets Try and Hit Triple Digits in Minor League Contracts in '05 or something like that. Look, it cannot hurt, but when you have so many relievers, it is hard to find out what you have by ten or fifteen spring training innings.
James Baldwin pitched 12.0 innings and posted a 0.75 ERA in Spring Training 2004. Nuff said.
"I think the Mets are about to get knee-deep in this thing now," a source familiar with the situation said Monday.
An Emmy-winning makeup artist hit Snoop Dogg with a $25 million lawsuit yesterday, accusing the gangsta rapper and his posse of gang-raping her on the set of Jimmy Kimmel's late night show.