A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How Do you Spell Relief? H-U-M-B-E-R.

The road to the bigs for pitchers in the past had gone through the bullpen. Then things changed a bit and now more players are groomed in the closers role and even a set-up role before they reach pro baseball. Once they reach pro-baseball, they continue down that path. The best pitchers in the Minor Leagues all used to start to get them more work and more experience. When they made it to the Major Leagues, then started in the bullpen if they were not studs and either migrated into the rotation or stayed in the bullpen. Of course there were exceptions, but that was pretty much how a lot of pitchers were introduced to the big leagues.

Starting pitching prospects' road to the bigs then shifted to being through the rotation in most cases and they generally were not used in the bullpen. Lately however, there seems to be a renaissance of sorts of having prospects, top prospects included, getting time in the bullpen with the big club prior to starting. Francisco Liriano, Jon Papelbon, and Adam Wainwright are a few this year who are tabbed as starters for the rest of their career. Even Aaron Heilman could be lumped into that crew since he should get a shot to start at some point. Middle relievers are no longer failed starting pitchers or guys who were never good enough to start and just not good enough to close. They are also comprised of some of the best arms in the league these days with Joel Zumaya going from one of the best starting pitching prospects to bullpen and maybe for good.

Enter Phil Humber. Why he comes to mind more than say someone like Mike Pelfrey is partly because of Adam Wainwright. Do you remember that nasty hook he was leveling batters in the playoff with? Humber's curveball is close to it. While Mike Pelfrey would benefit from as much work as possible to work on this secondary stuff, Humber's is up to snuff and should be able to get guys out with his stuff for one inning without many problems. With Mota out for fifty games and possibly not brought back coupled with the seemingly high probability of Aaron Heilman being used to bolster this team via trade, Phil Humber might just play a large part in the Mets 2007 bullpen. Humber is a bulldog who is not afraid to challenge hitters and has downright nasty stuff.

That's not to say he is the the answer to the possibility of not having Mota or Heilman at all in 2007, but with the existing cast of characters in Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, and Roberto Hernandez and two key moves by Omar this off-season, he could certainly play a huge role in being part of a dominant set up crew that could continue to end games in the sixth inning as the bullpen did so many times in 2006. First, Chad Bradford needs to be brought back. He was absolutely huge. Second, Omar needs to reel in Speier or Riske.

Justin Speier posted his second sparkling year of relief in a row and has really seemed to find his groove. His batting average against in the last five seasons was .216, .257, .239, .198, and .235. The dude is good and he has solid command to boot which we all love out of our relievers. David Riske, while not as good as an option as Speier, is certainly a solid reliever. He has posted ERAs of 2.29, 3.72, 3.10, and 3.89 in the last four years. Either would represent a solid arm in the pen should the Mets move Heilman and with the Mets needs this year and how the market is looking for Heilman, I do not see how Omar does not dish him off. Ultimately, relievers are replaceable and Aaron is certainly expendable given Omar's options.

* * *

  • Sugar Pants was laying it on thick in the Orient.

    "He fit into the jersey pretty good, so we told him we had some spots we needed to fill, and maybe he could fill in for us," Wright said. He continued that conversation by pushing for Matsuzaka, who declared his wish to play in the majors in Wednesday's news conference.

    "I asked if he could make a couple phone calls for us and maybe persuade him," Wright said. "We could use another quality starting pitcher next year. He said he'd look into it for me."

    Wright called the visit with Abe "one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities."

    That was a lot of sugary goodness.

  • Omar is aiming to bring back Bradford and The Duque.

  • Mota still might be in the mix.

  • Wally is at it again.

    Sometimes the solution to a seemingly complex problem is so simple, so obvious, you can't believe someone hasn't thought of it already. And you figure there must be some logical reason why it can't be done.

    In this case, the problem is the Mets' lineup holes in leftfield and at second base. The solution is Alfonso Soriano. It's so simple, so obvious, it can't be real

    What? Huh? I wouldn't go that far man.

  • Daisuke watch:

    While it is impossible to predict how many teams will make bids, it's assumed five or six teams will enter the market. Expected to be in the hunt, in addition to the Yankees, are the Mets, Cubs and possibly Red Sox.

    Not everyone in the Yankees universe is completely sold on Matsuzaka. There are members of the organizations who believe free agent Jason Schmidt is a better investment.

    Interesting tidbit.

    With the Mariners out of it, the Red Sox not going balls deep into the bidding, and the Yankees not 100% sold on Daisuke, you have to wonder if someone just might end up bidding against themselves.

    In the not so swell portion of things, there could be some shady dealings here.

    But there may be loopholes. It can be in the Japanese team's best interest for the winning bid to come from a team with which the player wants to sign, since that is the only way the Japanese team gets money. So a Japanese team could make an under-the-table deal with a U.S. team in which only a portion of the winning bid would have to be paid.

    When the Seattle Mariners won the rights to sign Ichiro Suzuki in 2000, there were rumors they paid just $4 million of the $13 million winning bid to the Orix Blue Wave.


    Anonymous Coop said...

    Sugary goodness...LOL

    So wait...you mean to say, that it's viable the Mets are the only team that might have a remote interest in Dice-K? Hmmmm...vetty interesting

    Don't touch Sori with a 9-foot pole

    I'm starting to get pissed off again. Don't mind me, I just do during hot stove. I apologize if I seem angry the next couple of weeks, LOL

    12:47 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent pick up w/ Humber, Mike. Ressgn Bradford, sign Spier, trade Heilman to stengthen SP or OF help and add Humber to the bullpen for a year, get his feet wet, then into the 08 rotation.

    - Nokes

    1:29 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Not saying that so much as maybe the bids won't be as astonomical. Although it could all be posturing, but it's not like what is being said doesn't make some sense.

    1) Boston's payroll is very, very high. They might not have the resources to drop on Dice-K
    2) The Yankees need pitching like a Brazilian transvestite hooker needs white blood cells. Dice-K is costly and is not sure bet. If they skip more of a known quantity in Jason Schmidt, it could be a looooong season. They might have to reduce their risk and fill their rotation with solid performers.

    The Mets are in more of a position to take a risk with Pedro and Glavine set to lead this team in the second half. John Maine has a pretty decent track record and I can see him being a solid #3 already and The Duque should be back. If Dice-K doesn't live up to expectations (I cannot see him completely failing with his nastiness), he can serve as an expensive back-end guy with either Perez/Humber/Williams/Pelfrey to pick up the slack for Pedro in the first half and/or if someone gets injured.

    The Mets can afford the risk more than other teams in my opinion. The Dodgers might be a darkhorse here though.

    Wally seems to bring the best out of all of us!

    1:33 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    money aside, why on earth would the mets not go after soriano? batting in the two hole between reyes and beltran dramatically improves this lineup. i love loduca, but we can't possibly expect him to produce the same way next year. we just can't expect to get the same from guys like valentin, loduca, chavez and even delgado (at his age) next season, so this offense does need some pop added to it. i see two options with soriano -- sign him to 2B, or use him in LF if a milledge trade happens. his defense can't be worse than floyd.

    say the mets trade milledge and change for a guy like dontrelle -- we've just netted dontrelle and soriano. or say we keep milledge, sign zito and sign soriano to 2B. either way, we've dramatically improved the offense and pitching of this team. plus we stay young and set up a nice team for the next few years at least.

    but of course the money changes things and a lot of that will depend on what happens with glavine.

    1:35 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Thanks Nokes...you've been quiet these days.

    Speier is officially a big part of my vision of this '07 team. I hope Omar keys in on him. I wouldn't mind a three year deal to help get it done either.

    Seriously though, if you pick up Justin, bring back Bradford, and have someone inhouse step up, the Mets bullpen could be better in '07 even after Heilman is traded. His stock is sky fucking high right now. Sell! Sell! Sell!

    1:35 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    money aside, why on earth would the mets not go after soriano?

    Well, money is a big factor if not the biggest. If money was not obstacle, I'd take him in a heartbeat.

    If the Mets trade for a young, arb eligble starter, Soriano could be looked at. However, people need to understand that the Mets budget is truly about $25 million. They need to fill in some holes in the bullpen, LF, 2b, and get an ACE. That simply cannot be done with $25 million and the Mets #1 priorty is pitching. If they do one thing this off-season, they need an ace.

    1:37 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    if money is the biggest factor then any talk of daisuke needs to get thrown out the window now, and we trade for dontrelle and sign a serviceable 2B and that's that. why would we pay $30 million+ for the privilege to negotiate with scott boras for a pitcher who may or may not have great success in MLB. i'd much sooner trade for dontrelle, with a proven track record, great personality, nice clubhouse attitude and more importantly - much lower price tag.

    2:04 PM

    Anonymous seattle steve said...

    I would be gun shy dealing w/ a high priced free agent from japan after our last experience.

    4:09 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    I'm not gun shy on him. I think he could be the real deal. Yes, I thought that about Kaz too, but I have to be right one of these days!

    5:04 PM

    Anonymous Scott said...

    spending $20m just to negotiate on Dice is crazy added to which we would have to ask for about $10m per year to sign him. That is $70m for 5 years of unknown pitching. Or the same amount for 6 or 7 years of Zito. $70m would get us a LF by the name of Soriano for 7 years too. Or 4 years of Mulder, 3 of Speier (trade Heilman) and 5 years of Freddy Garcia. $70m is alot for 5 years of Dice. ME thinks not.

    5:43 PM

    Anonymous Scott said...

    "Mussina has told friends the Mets would be a welcome option if the Yankees don't want him back. And the Mets will be interested in the veteran right-hander"-This may be the first time I actually want the Spanks to sign someone! Oh, please, no Glavine AND MUSSINA!!! Come on Steinbrenner! Sign him for shit sake!

    5:59 PM

    Anonymous Farva said...

    " If Matsuzaka is among the top 15 pitchers in the major leagues next year, he'll be worth about $15 million...he will likely make more than that..."

    Woooooo! More than $15m per + the negotiating rights? DAMN!!!!! NO!!!!!

    7:29 PM

    Anonymous Farva said...

    Beltran = Mr. Gold Glove!!!!

    Pedro may retire? Uh-oh! We need pitching in a hurry.

    7:30 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree!!

    i think Pelfrey and or Humber should audition for the pen. actually i like Pelfrey more..so he can work on his off speed pitches.

    I think humber has leaped ahead of Pel and might be your #5 guy. bannister would be the main competitor. I have been a staunch advocate of Ollie Perez since day1. But as many are on the bandwagon i caution that tho he was the ace in Pitt, I just want/project him to mimic Traxx's #s..that is 13-9/4.30ERA

    3. NO MUSSINA: The Mets tend to woo a guy ONCE. Mussina rejected the Mets in 2000. Now 6 yrs older I dont see him as a go to guy. Eric Beddard (trade)or like could factor but we need an ace.

    4. As good as we were in the season. The Playoffs highlighted the need to change and adapt. Small ball teams win in post season. That said I think Carlos Lee in left is an interesting proposition. No soriano.


    7:32 PM

    Anonymous benny said...

    What I love about Zumaya is how he's been saying since Spring Training that he WANTS to be in the bullpen.
    He's said he wants to close. That's cool.
    Hopefully the front office thinks like you are with having Humber in the bullpen to expose him to the big leagues. Even though I think its smart to do I doubt Omar or Willie think like this or do it. I don't think that's how they roll.

    Robo Hernandez is a FA, I doubt he'll be back.
    I like David Riske alot. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems like he fell out of favor and he'll be a cheap signing. I'd love to get him.
    Spier is a no name that will produce, gotta love him. Hopefully he stays udner the radar and can come cheap.

    I feel that Wallace Mathews is mocking me and everyone else.

    I've heard that about Seattle and Ichiro too. Whatever...

    The Yankees need pitching like a Brazilian transvestite hooker needs white blood cells
    Quote of the day, thanks Mike.

    Wow, nobody likes Mike Mussina. I wound't mind him. I think he's solid. I don't see whats wrong with him. I'd go after him, not aggrasively but I would go after him.

    8:21 PM

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