David Lennon does a great job breaking down the bullpen situation this morning and the seemingly uphill battle for Heath Bell.
Manny Aybar, signed as a minor-league free agent, has held opposing hitters to a .135 average, with a 1.69 ERA and 11 strikeouts, allowing only five hits over 102/3 innings. The 40-year-old Roberto Hernandez has a 1.80 ERA, Bartolome Fortunato a 1.00 ERA, and Matt Ginter, who started yesterday, has not allowed an earned run in 14 innings.
For the record, I do agree that putting him at AAA does no harm to the team. Should they need him, he's a short hop away from Shea and can be brought up and ready for action the next day. However, it still does not make sense since he seems to embody what you want from reliever. A hard throwing guy who throws strikes.
"We'll keep watching the competition and see how it plays out," Randolph said. "It's really hard. Sometimes your hands are tied. But you still want to get the best guys coming out of the gate and you want to keep as many assets as you can."
Willie is being a bit contradictory here. We all know that if they want to bring the best relievers out of the gate, Bell would be there. However, if they are interested in stockpiling assets, they will be put Bell at AAA and use guys they would have had to otherwise release on the MLB squad and see how they work out. As Vinnie from No Joy in Metsville lined out the other day, the Mets' love affair with Roberto Hernandez is certainly a curious one. He turned 40 in November and has had he ERA rise every season since he was 34. He certainly has not been making people miss either.
Year K/9 K/BB BAA OBPA SLGA
1999 8.47 2.65 .245 .332 .295
2000 7.49 2.65 .272 .331 .423
2001 6.12 1.77 .266 .336 .390
2002 6.75 3.25 .300 .345 .449
2003 6.75 1.05 .263 .385 .466
2004 6.99 1.52 .297 .379 .473
He also notched 18.0 and 17.8 pitches per inning pitched in 2003 and 2004. Throw on top of that a 1.73 WHIP in '03 and 1.67 WHIP in '04 and you have Michael scratching his head. It is tough for us common fans to know how good a guy has looked in Spring Training. The lack of TV coverage and not really knowing what hitters a pitcher faces make it really tough to gauge the difficulty of their opposition. Players can put up gaudy numbers due to the lower competition they face, and if James Baldwin can put up a sub 1.00 ERA, anyone can.
Rick Peterson's mantra is that if the player has the tools, he can work with him. The idea as I understand it, is that Roberto is keeping the ball down, which is something he was not doing in recent years contributing to his precipitous decline. However, given his age and what he's done in the past few years, he seems like the anti-ideal reliever. He comes out and walks people, gives up hits, and throws a lot of balls. Also, why has only professor Rick found this issue out and no one else? He is the only guy that can help Hernandez keep the ball down? They are basically banking on a 40 year old to significantly turn around a decline.
Fans, columnists, and everyone's grandmother second guess moves. Whether they are roster moves, trades, in game decisions, substitutions, whether a player is pulling his head out, who to sign, who not to sign, etc. Do fans know more than the GM, manager, etc. at some times? I'd have to say an emphatic no way. This is their job and their life.
However, when you see a guy like Art Howe make confounding move after confounding move, like using Orber Moreno instead of Franco and Stanton while it was clear they were not getting the job done just to try something new, pulling Piazza in the 8th inning of tie games for a defensive replacement, horrible use of the bench and pen, and many more things you just wonder. Sometimes things look so blatantly obvious to us, and yet the opposite happens time after time. I'm not naive enough to think I can do their job, but some things are certainly confusing, no? Do we know nothing sometimes, or do they know nothing sometimes? As fans, I guess we have to have faith based on the assumption that know what's best and they what's right.
This concludes my complaining about the roster and other moves for the remainder of the off-season. Thank you.
But what about Matsui? Is it possible that he could be dropped to the bottom of the order if he does not start hitting? Matsui has proved adept at situational hitting in recent games, collecting all five of his spring-training R.B.I. since his return. But he still walks less and strikes out more than a leadoff or No. 2 hitter should; he has only two walks in spring training and 13 strikeouts, the second most on the team and one more than Andres Galarraga had before he retired.
Does anyone else hate this quote much as I do? Don't you have to earn yours as a manager too? What's more important anyway, "earning chops", or winning ballgames?
There's the real Cammy.