Bobby Parnell, who is recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, has regained all the weight he lost and is feeling great after he was in New York for a routine checkup late last month.
While talking to some of us at Citi Field during the Mets Holiday Party, Sandy Alderson said that Parnell would be ready for Spring Training and that he doesn’t anticipate any problems.
All in all, some great news for the Mets as it puts less of a demand on pursuing a late inning reliever in what is an over-priced free agent market.
That should preserve some money for other pressing needs, but more importantly the Mets won’t have to scramble to find a temporary closer or rush a younger pitcher into a role he may not be ready for.
The 2014 bullpen is starting to take shape and unlike past offseasons where Sandy Alderson felt the need to do a full revamping, this current group seems to be full of potential. I like what I see.
Here are my pre-season thoughts on the Mets bullpen…
Bobby Parnell, RHP - The hard-throwing righty seized the closer’s role after Frank Francisco couldn’t start the 2013 season. Parnell had a fine campaign before his injury, posting a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while notching 22 saves for the Mets in 49 appearances. The good news is that he’ll be ready for spring training and we look for him to have a big year and his first 30 save season.
Vic Black, RHP - The 25-year old righthander fared very well in his short stint with the Mets last season. Black posted a 3.46 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while going 3-0 and earning his first career save in just 13 appearances. The Mets are very high on Black and he’ll be the primary setup man for Parnell in 2014, with even a few save opportunities thrown in for good measure. He’s gonna be a good one.
Scott Rice, LHP - After spending his first 14 pro seasons in the minors, Rice made his MLB debut in 2013 and was nothing short of spectacular holding lefthanded hitters to a .174 batting average and a .468 OPS. Rice was on pace to shatter the Mets record for appearances before undergoing season-ending surgery for a sports hernia. The 31-year old made 73 appearances for the Mets and tossed 51.0 innings. An amazing 60.3% of the pitches hit against him were grounders. You can bet he’ll be back and hopefully he won’t be abused by Collins the second time around.
Carlos Torres, RHP - Nobody even expected Torres to make the team and yet he became one of the more indispensable role players on the team, whether he was making a spot start, pitching 2-3 innings of relief, or coming in to get a big out. He finished the season with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP and his spot in the bullpen as the Mets’ swingman is all but guaranteed.
Gonzalez Germen, RHP - He made his major league debut at age 25 last season and delivered a very uneven performance. At times he shined on the mound and looked dominating, and at other times he left too many fat pitches over the plate. In 29 appearances he posted a 3.93 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP, with a 8.7 K/9 and a 4.2 BB/9. He showed enough promise to make him a lock for the bullpen, but clearly he’ll have to show marked improvement if he wants to keep his spot with other young arms knocking at the door.
Josh Edgin, LHP - After a brutal start to his 2013 season, which included a demotion to Double-A Binghamton in April, Edgin came roaring back his second time around and displayed the stuff and the swagger we saw from him in his rookie season. He posted a 0.93 ERA over his final 23 appearances before suffering a broken rib to end his season. He finished the season with a respectable 3.77 ERA in 34 appearances. He’s a lefty who throws mid-nineties and should be back.
Jeurys Familia, RHP - The one time top prospect for the Mets had his season washed out due to surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. He’s still young and has loads of potential, but it’s time for him to start strutting his stuff. He made the club out of spring training last year, but unless he dazzles in camp that may not be the case this season.
Long Shots - The Mets have a nice little arsenal of young pitchers on the rise who could debut at some point this season and maybe even make the team out of Spring Training. My favorites to make the team are 25-year old righthander Jeff Walters who posted a 2.09 ERA and led the Eastern League with 38 saves, and Jacob deGrom, also a righthander, who could transition from starter to reliever in 2014. On the bubble are Cory Mazzoni, Darin Gorski and Jack Leathersich, but not until they earn their stripes in Las Vegas.
Outlook - I consider the Mets’ bullpen to be one of their greatest strengths in 2014 and certainly one of the best pens we’ve seen since the 2006 season. We have some solid young arms that all seem to be suited for the various roles that comprise a major league bullpen. Parnell is a solid closer who can be counted on, Black looks like he’ll be a dominant setup guy, Rice is the best LOOGY in the NL East, Torres was also among the best swing men in the league. Edgin and Germen lengthen the pen and we’ll see how the final one or two spots shake out in Spring Training. All in all, this should be a bullpen we can all be proud of. LGM