Updated by Joe D.
According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, after telling reporters that Frank Francisco has been shut down due to inflammation in his right elbow, Mets manager Terry Collins told Puma that “he wants Bobby Parnell to take over as the team’s closer.”
“We keep talking about 2014 … why not get a head start?” Collins said. “I’m not panicking, but you’ve got to get somebody ready, and Bobby to me is that guy.”
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York quotes pitching coach Dan Warthen, who says:
“His last 11 outings, he didn’t give up anything. I thought his maturity changed. I thought he and [Jon] Niese both had breakout years last year. And I think he’s there. I think he’s ready to close.”
Not surprising news, but big news nonetheless.
The Mets developing their own homegrown closer? This is unheard of, somebody pinch me!
I would love to see Parnell grab this opportunity and run with it.
I want to see him succeed and earn a big, huge paycheck next season as a top shelf closer – hopefully, still with the Mets of course.
Take the bull by the horns, Bobby… This your time to shine…
Original Post 2/8
Frank Francisco told the New York Post yesterday that he is the Mets’ closer.
Sure, he might have been signed last offseason to be the Mets’ closer, but it’s not like he went out last year and was stellar on the mound.
In fact, his numbers (5.53 ERA and 23 saves) were pretty poor for a closer.
So while he “thinks” he is this team’s closer, nothing is set in stone.
The Mets today agreed to a contract with another veteran reliever, Brandon Lyon. He’s been mostly a setup man in his career, but he does have experience closing. He may push Francisco for save opportunities.
In a perfect world, Francisco, who will earn closer’s money at $6.5 million in 2013, will have a great season and cement his role as the closer early on. Meanwhile, the veteran bullpen options like Lyon, Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins will push youngsters Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Josh Edgin in spring training to pitch at a high level.
But nothing in this world is perfect.
With the expectations low for the Mets this season, the organization needs to have a short leash with overpriced veterans. If Francisco tanks, get him out of there. He’s not part of this team’s future, so the Mets should just bite the bullet on his salary if necessary.
I’d rather see Parnell, Familia and Edgin, as well as a few others, get the chance late in games rather than run a struggling Francisco out there. Leads will be precious for the 2013 Mets, so the most qualified relievers – not the highest paid – should get the first crack at saving games.
Again, maybe the most qualified relievers this season will in fact be Francisco and Lyon. They’ve shown in their careers that they can be effective late in games, so it’s certainly possible that they can be productive.
But as far as Francisco claiming that he is the Mets’ closer before spring training has even started, that’s a little much.
I’m glad that he’s confident in his abilities, but he should have said that he’s willing to work super hard to rebound from a poor year last year in order to re-earn his spot.
He could have said, “I am this team’s closer, and I am going to prove that right from the start of spring training.”
The key word here is “prove.” It’s not like Francisco is Mariano Rivera. Even with Rivera coming off an injury, his track record suggests he’ll be just fine.
Francisco’s career has been middling at best, and with Parnell waiting in the wings, Francisco’s job should be far from safe.