Today is April 1. The Mets are now only four days away from opening the curtains on the 2012 season. But they still have one role to give out before the first act can begin, and that role is the lefty specialist job in the bullpen.
With the uncertainty surrounding the lefty specialist role in the bullpen, the Mets have been considering a number of options. Tim Byrdak was originally supposed to fill that position for the team. Oops. The Hulkamaniac needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus and doubt for the season opener crept in faster than Randy Savage could snap into a Slim Jim. Garrett Olson was then supposed to be the favorite to replace Thunder Lips. Instead, he became a human baseball magnet, attracting line drives whenever he stepped onto a mound. He has since been reassigned to the minors. Robert Carson? He was injured as well, plus no one really knew who he was when he wasn’t wearing his “Hi, my name is Robert Carson” nametag.
Remember Daniel Herrera? He pitched well in his late-season tryout last year after the Mets acquired him for Francisco “Frankie Knuckles” Rodriguez. But alas, the lilliputian lefty will only be considered for the specialist role as a last resort.
On Monday, Joe Beimel was released by the Texas Rangers. The soon-to-be 35-year-old had been on the Mets’ radar for many years now, but he did not pitch well for the Pirates last year, finishing the year with a 5.33 ERA. So who’s left to consider as the first lefty to come out of the bullpen when the situation presents itself? No divine intervention needed here. The answer to the Mets’ prayers might be across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
Tim Tebow was traded to the New York Jets to be their backup quarterback. Why should this news be of interest to the Mets? Because…
- 1) He won’t be doing anything in April, as the Jets are in the middle of their offseason.
- b) He’s a quarterback, meaning he’s experienced using his arm.
- iii) He’s a lefty.
Considering that the Mets are in dire need of a lefty specialist in the bullpen while Byrdak recovers from his injury, why wouldn’t they consider the left-handed Tebow? After all, he’s going to need to keep his arm in shape so it can be ready for clipboard-holding duties once Jets training camp opens.
As a quarterback, Tebow has been much maligned. He throws too many incomplete passes. He tends not to be able to throw passes of more than 30 yards. He spends too much time running with the ball. He drinks too much milk on the sidelines. Yada yada yada. But as a left-handed reliever? Now that’s where his future might be.
As a pitcher, Tebow wouldn’t have to hit a moving receiver standing 30 yards away. All he’d have to do is hit a stationary target (the catcher’s mitt) from a distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. That’s only 20 yards.
Also, anyone who’s seen Tebow throw a pass knows that his balls tend to move quite a bit once his hand releases them. (You do know I’m talking about footballs here. Don’t blaspheme Tebow.) Although the wobbliness of his balls would tend to be disadvantageous in football, as it’s harder for a receiver to catch a ball that’s not thrown in a perfect spiral, Tebow could work that to his advantage as a relief pitcher. Pitches with movement would probably cause more swings and misses and could also induce the pitcher’s best friend, the double play grounder.
On the football field, a quarterback could get seriously hurt if he runs around too much. The next time Tebow cuts left on the gridiron, he might experience a close encounter of the 300-pound lineman kind. On the pitcher’s mound, however, being mobile can be beneficial. Johan Santana has always possessed cat-like quickness on the mound. So did former Met and public school enthusiast Mike Hampton. To be able to move around quickly on and around the mound is tantamount to having a fifth infielder. Ground balls up the middle aren’t always destined to go into center field. A mobile pitcher is also the perfect foil for a batter who has a tendency to drop down bunts. At the very least, a fast-moving pitcher can also get out of the way of line drives easier than one who doesn’t possess keen reflexes.
At Shea Stadium, fans would always get pumped whenever Billy Wagner came into the game to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” from 2006 to 2008. Some fans even paused on the Shake Shack line when J.J. Putz entered a game to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” in 2009. Hard rock songs and relief pitchers go together like Bobby Bonilla and earplugs. So it would seem like a match made in heaven if Tim Tebow would charge in from the bullpen to Stryper’s “To Hell With The Devil”. Would the Shea Bridge be able to handle all the fans Tebowing in unison as he made his way to the mound?
The Mets improved their bullpen during the offseason, adding Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and Frank Francisco. But all three pitchers are right-handers. The only southpaw in the bullpen mix was Tim Byrdak. Now there is a possibility he won’t be ready for Opening Day and the Mets are left scrambling for his replacement.
Garrett Olson is back in the minors. Robert Carson forgot his ID and is not being allowed into the ballpark. Joe Beimel has cooties. Daniel Herrera might become Tim Byrdak’s replacement by default. But it’s possible that the best option for the interim lefty specialist job might be the guy who knows a thing or two about option plays.
Tim Tebow, left-handed reliever? Hey, it could be worse. At least the Mets aren’t thinking of signing Sidd Finch … yet.
To paraphrase the great Ralph Kiner, “And on this day when we celebrate Daniel Murphy’s 27th birthday, we’d like to wish you all a happy April Fools’ Day.”