With a 2.09 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 56.0 innings of work, it was hard to ignore the excellent season that Jeff Walters delivered for Double-A Binghamton in 2013.
His 38 saves in the regular season shattered the all-time career and single-season records for Binghamton and in doing so Walters tossed his name in the mix as a future bullpen arm with the Mets.
All things considered, I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that the names Jack Leathersich, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Walters be drilled into your head as the Mets will likely put together a young, new-look bullpen for 2014.
Their mistake this season, however, was not allowing Walters to join the big league team after Triple-A Las Vegas finished their postseason.
Walters, 25, spent some time with the 51s after the B-Mets were eliminated from the playoffs, and I expected the next logical step would be to add him to the Mets active roster as a September call-up. Instead, Frank Francisco was re-activated from the 60-day DL .I thought this was a boneheaded move considering Walters needed to be added to the 40-man anyway to be protected from the Rule V draft. Plus it would have been a nice reward for the kid after having such a stellar season.
Outside of that, what argument can be made against calling up Walters? Even if you contest that he’s pitched a lot of innings and needs the rest, don’t you think he would benefit by being around an MLB clubhouse for two weeks with the opportunity to talk to veteran pitchers? Jason Isringhausen was an excellent mentor to some of our young pitchers — Bobby Parnell immediately comes to immediately — and there are certainly other veterans like LaTroy Hawkins or Scott Atchison around to offer some wisdom.
I am also completely comfortable with the skip from Binghamton to the MLB team when it comes to Walters, especially since he’d be pitching in what are no doubt meaningless games at this point. The only possible thing I can think of is that the Mets didn’t want to pay Walters an MLB-level salary for two weeks when they could just try to get their money’s worth from Frank Francisco…which doesn’t send the right message and apparently backfired anyway.