Anchored By Parnell, Mets Bullpen Is Likely A Team Strength In 2014

bobby parnell

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 MazzoniDarin 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

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About Joe D 7834 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
  • Agee’s Catch

    Won’t two lefty’s confuse TC?

  • BehindTheBag

    I’d like to see them sign a veteran. I think an underrated part of the 2013 bullpen was Scott Atchison, who was able to pass along the wisdom he gained through the years pitching alongside greats like Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Christy Matthewson, and Walter Johnson. That kind of experience, you can’t put a price tag on.

  • Charley’s Twin

    I sure hope that’s the case….still skeptical just because neck injuries are not to be trifled with.

  • Waz0787

    Black should be the closer.

  • BehindTheBag

    If Peyton Manning can come back…

  • Charley’s Twin

    Yes but no Ray Ramirez in Denver!

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    Idk, that’s a lot of IFs in there, and parnell is not like some elite closer or anything like that. he’s alright and someone i can’t trust. he still folds under pressure and the rest of the guys are unknown. however, live arms every where. guys who throw GAS always makes the bullpen better.

  • DrDooby

    Ryan Reed and Joel Carreno also have a shot at the pen.
    I also expect a veteran addition or too? Maybe someone like Octavio Dotel or Mitch Boggs with past closing experience on a minor league deal after a down year.

  • gasparsarm

    nice tag name.

  • Not really, remember Collins has two left thumbs. (Ducks)

  • Agee’s Catch

    Like wise. We’re a couple of throwbacks.

  • Pike Miazza

    Agreed, how has he been able to keep his job this long ???

  • Hotstreak

    The strength of the BP last year was Letroy Hawkins foolishly gone because of CY. Parnell is a big question mark. VIc Black was a great pickup but not enough innings to consider him a given strength. With the closer’s role up in the air and Bobby Parnell never rock solid until last year (I am being generous) we have major question marks. Joe D. I respectfully disagree .

  • Run Support Group

    Closers are really year to year, unless you’re name is Kimbrel. I’m happy with Parnell

  • Run Support Group

    Why?

  • CJM

    Latroy’s not a big loss. Relievers like Hawkins are easy to find. Yes, he was a nice piece. But letting him go for what he went for was fine. No problem with that.

  • Run Support Group

    Atchison is so old in history class they just wrote down what they were doing

  • Run Support Group

    Reid’s motion and stuff remind me of a righty Scott Rice. Carreno also has really good stuff, and has performed well as a reliever

  • Michael Black

    Parnell was solid in Sept 2012. Last 15 innings of that year he gave up one earned run. Mets have a bunch of young arms that throw hard. Better than adding journeyman

  • Run Support Group

    The reason Hawkins left was because he wanted to close.

  • Brian D.

    While we have a lot of young and exciting arms, a lot of them are unknowns . Guys like Black, Familia, and German,are very inexperienced, so I really can’t trust them yet.

    I’m also skeptical of Torres and Rice. I think their 2013 seasons were fluky. They came completely out of nowhere, so I won’t be surprised if they regress in 2014.

    Edgin is another one who I don’t think can be trusted.

    I think it makes sense to add a veteran to give the pen more stability. I think there’s too much uncertainty and unknowns with the pen right now to be considered a strength.

    vinny b

  • Brian D.

    The Mets should make him earn it.

  • DKNOKOZ

    I’m not so sure that is accurate. Hawkins is not going to displace Rex Brothers and had a much better chance at closing in NY as he had already established what he can do and Parnell is on the bubble injury-wise.

  • Hotstreak

    Your opinion is counter to mine.

    Bobby Parnell has health issues so they let Hawkins (a bargin) go.
    Tejeda is a question mark so they let Justin Turner (real cheap) go.

    We need owners and a GM who are hedge fund managers. Ok Steve Cohen is not the answer but a least a hedging a GM..

    On the plus side trying to leverage Ike is good as we are in no rush to dump him for a bag of balls yet. His potential to revert to the 32 hr guy is worth keeping at least until we get a good deal.

  • Biggle Boy

    Doc, as you do, I also expect them to sign at least one vet back end reliever. The early word on Parnell’s health is that he’ll be OK. Hope so. But that surgery is not a small matter. Need some veteran insurance, beyond the kids. Just in case.

  • Run Support Group

    Even if Parnell gets hurt, I think Vic Black slots in. Brothers and Hawkins are probably do a closer by committee kind of thing.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Joe D.,

    I find myself in the middle between you and Hotstreak. I think we made a big mistake not trying to keep Hawkins who was willing to re-sign with the Mets for that million dollars they refused to budge on and that he deserved. If one wants to point out his age, then the same has to be said about Colon. Black has been plagued with control problems and consistency throughout his minor league career so we just don’t know.

    But then, Black could be a good set-up man and we do have Germen, Torres, Rice, Edgin and Familia in front of Parnell and that does have the potential to be formidable if not overused again.

    But because of this potential, along with our starting rotation, that is why I think we have been shortchanged not going after another big bat. When one thinks of it, if we are willing to give a 40 year old PED user who has been caught multiple times $20 million, then why not have paid $775K more than we gave CYJ and tried to re-sign Byrd as a free-agent? Yes, it would have been a two year commitment but a better “gamble” than a lifetime .235 hitter who sunk to .200 last season. With Granderson, that would have given us a potent 2-5 spot in the lineup (Murphy/Wright/Byrd/Granderson) with perhaps d’Arnaud hitting sixth and if nothing less, a Josh Satin hitting7th if Davis didn’t work things out.

    Task is right, there are a lot of ifs but if some do come through because of not getting that one more bat we are potentially oh so close but yet at the same time potentially oh so far away as well.

  • Agee’s Catch

    And 2.5M guarnateed, with another 2M for 2015 if he pitches well.

  • MLBGM Fire TC

    Lololol u have a point there

  • Hotstreak

    Penny pinching and pound foolish. One of GKR said he eas a reluctant closer. It was all money. SA signs CY why?

    http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/alderson-hawkins-wanted-too-much-for-his-age-black-will-close-if-parnell-isnt-ready.html

  • Dave Rosenbluth

    My only concern is that the set up guy has very little experience. In today’s game, the set up guy tends to have the tougher inning to pitch. Often they come in during the inning with runners on, as compared to a closer who almost always comes in to start an inning. I like Edgin to move forward in responsibility this year-he gets people out from both sides and shows no fear. Black has to prove it to me b4 I relax about him and Familla has to stay healthy.

  • Justin Anthony

    I think right now you have to consider the bullpen to be a question mark, not a strength. Too many inexperienced arms, albeit with a lot of upside. I would like to see us add a veteran reliever before spring training starts. We need someone to fill the Latroy Hawkins role

  • mitchpetanick

    Another sleeper in the long shot arena – Erik Goeddel

  • RS

    I’d love Parenll more if he was a better strike out pitcher. He tends to try to get ground ball outs – something that faired poor at times last season with men on base and our lackluster defense…
    Given that he can breach 100 on the gun, it would be nice if he missed more bats, but that’s been the story of his career really (thought the knuckle curve offered him some improvement in that area).
    Maybe Vic Black can be the guy to come in and clear a base-loaded jam…
    Hawkins is the same problem – not a strike out guy – good reliever, but not a shut down guy.
    Isn’t Atchinson under team control? I thought he doesn’t have enough service time to be a FA yet. Or was he non-tendered? (sorry too lazy to look it up)

  • CJM

    Parnell gave up being Bobby 100 to get more outs–it was a trade off he needed to make to be successful.

  • CJM

    Latroy isn’t nearly as much of a bargain at $2.5 million. According to Fangraphs, his last 5 seasons have been worth $1.2, $0.1, $3.3, -$0.9, and $4.1 million respectively. That averages to just $1.56 million over the last 5 years in worth, with last year being his best year in a while, meaning he’s unlikely to reproduce those numbers. Not only that, but several times last season Hawkins was unable to pitch back to back days because he was dealing with tendinitis. He’s old and is a risk no matter what. It’s not like they let him walk for a million. It was a good call. Letting Turner go was fine too, because Turner is a replacement player. You can find Justin Turners everywhere.

  • Pike Miazza

    I don’t think its safe to say that ANY BP in the league is a strength.
    We’ve all seen how BP arms can deteriorate over the winter & be completely ineffective. We can also see the opposite, so I don’t have faith in OUR BP or any other IMHO.

  • HobokenMetsFan

    I agree, Hawkins would have been nice to have although if I remember correctly he was a minor league signing later in the offseason. I’m sure sandy is looking to go the same route again to compete with the young guys in camp which I think is the smart play.

  • I am more bullish on our bullpen than I have been a little while. However…bullpens are the most fickle units in baseball. Furthermore, ours is heavy on potential and light on production. And lastly, just about every single guy in the bullpen comes into 2014 with at least one legit giant question mark.

    For me, we need to sign at least one guy with previous closing experience who can be the 2014 Hawk, but who is younger and projected to do better in 2014 than Hawk was projected to do in 2013. Get this veteran, and then we can all start feeling much better about the bullpen.

  • taskmaster4450

    Terrific article Joe. You broke down the options very well.

    I agree that the young arms are exciting. Sure there are question marks but those who make those statements do not realize that every reliever tends to come with question marks. That is the nature of the trade. They have it one minute, gone the next.

    I was never a fan of Parnell as the closer but he did a better than expected job there. If memory serves me right, he seemed to be let down more than any other reliever by the defense. That aside, he is the closer and, presumed healthy, so hopefully he puts up 30-40 saves this season.

    The rest is basically throwing arms at the wall and seeing who sticks. Why I like young BP arms is because if they do not work out to start, ticket them to Vegas and bring up someone else. That is what depth does for you. The Phils BP was terrible in front of Paps the 1st half of last season and they shipped 3 guys out and replaced them with ones who fared better.

    My sleeper/wild card out there is German. Here is a guy who many thought was going to be left unprotected last season for the rule V yet Alderson decided to keep him. I like his stuff albeit it, as you mentioned, he was uneven in his performances. Let us hope the off season saw an advancement in his skills. His changeup can be absolutely nasty.

    One final thought, I do expect Alderson to bring in a BP arm before ST who has a bit of experience. I do not think the aforementioned list is what the Mets will open with.

  • I really wanted Hawkins back too and was very outspoken about losing him over $1 million. But that was because there had been no update on Parnell. Now that it’s clearer Parnell will be good to go come Spring Training, it gave me a little more confidence in going with some of our internal options. Thanks for commenting.

  • oleosmirf

    The Mets still need a veteran arm in that bullpen. There are still lots of good arms on the FA list and Kevin Gregg is definitely someone the Mets should really consider.

    He had 33 saves last year and while his numbers aren’t great, he’s pitched in hitters parks since he left the Marlins so I expect Citi Field would be a great spot for him. Rafeal Betancourt and Matt Belisle would be my second and third choices.

    Guys like Mitchell Boggs, Matt Guerrier and Kyle Farnsworth would be solid additions on MiLB deals too.

  • Run Support Group

    Gregg or Boggs as a bounce back candidate would be nice. Having Gregg-Black-Parnell as your 7th, 8th inning and closer guy is pretty good

  • Run Support Group

    A good example as to why teams shouldn’t spend big money on bullpens is the Phillies. They have Papelbon, who was signed to a big contract, and now they want to move him. However, his velocity and effectiveness have decreased. They also signed Mike Adams to fairy big money for a reliever and he was hurt for most of last year. If you’re gonna build a bullpen, build on internal power arms and vets on 1 year deals

  • Met Maniac

    What the check happened here? Discuss?

  • John

    Can’t wait until Hefner comes back to be in the pen

  • Hotstreak

    We sure differ in opinions.

  • Hotstreak

    Hi Joey D.

    I see a lot of one run games. We will be as good as BP (the closer and his supporting cast. 🙂

  • Run Support Group

    Hefner doesn’t come back until September and when he does it’ll be more as a spot starter/depth guy. We don’t really need a swingman, we already have one in Torres. Although i guess when rosters expand it wouldn’t hurt to have 2 longmen

  • SRT

    This ^
    is the reason Hawkins signed with the Rockies early on in the off season. Probably the best deal he was going to get, given his age.

  • mr. belvedere

    what are the chances we make a play for Balfour for a year?

  • BCleveland3381

    What about Ryan Reid, who the Mets claimed from the Pirates?

  • Joey D.

    Hi Hotstreak,

    Yes, one run too much because of our bullpen and one run too little because of our offense means many a close game lost once more. As said, so possibly close yet so possibly far away and so frustrating because there were reasonable steps that could have been taken to at least close that gap somewhat. Yes, the best laid plans are often victims of fate as are the steps that lead to unexpected success benefactors of fate as well.

    Maybe that’s all we have to hope for at this point rather than trying to complete the picture on our own.

  • Pike Miazza

    Ive been clamoring for that since the A’s got eliminated.
    I would LOVE to see him light a fire in our BP !
    But, I don’t see management spending money on a reliever, probably spend it on a #5…unfortunately CY got Balfours money

  • Hotstreak

    Hi Joey D.

    I usually reserve this word for my opponents to try and show agreement.

    But why not my friends when warranted:

    Yes you can’t control injuries or Harvey’s surgery but to spend but not enough is cutting off your nose (not Niese) to spite yourself.

    “Sagacious” post all the way: 🙂

  • Guest

    Familia’s health concerns me far less than his walks. Until he proves otherwise, he just seems like Elvin Ramirez 2.0.

  • Joey D.

    ” Hi Hotstreak,

    I had to look up what “Sagacious” meant before knowing how to take it. 🙂

    Thanks as always my friend. If we only got that one more bat last season – let it been a Victorino or Sherholtz who signed with the cubs or even took a chance and re-signed Byrd for those two years at only $775K per annum more than CYJ – instead of CYJ this year – and one of the many first baseman that were available this off-season along with Granderson and Colon, we would have a well rounded team going into 2014 and players that in three years would be giving way to those in the farm system who are not as yet ready.

    It’s OK if one wants to say the organization just does not have the money to have completely pursued all these options. It’s another when saying pursuing these type players were not valid options because it would be just spending recklessly like before, it would have been too expensive a payroll, it would be hindering our future or that even with them the team wouldn’t be good anyway.

  • vigouge

    He became an excellent reliever when he stopped trying to strike everyone out, there’s no way he should change that.

  • vigouge

    Thank god for that, spending 7m on a reliever is stupid.

  • Cris MaddGenius Eastmond

    Lmao at Parnell being counted on. Guy chokes every time he even gets a whiff of pressure. We should have traded him when his value was high. It’s one thing to rack up some stats for a losing team. The very instant last year we had a small dream of playoffs after the break and Parnell faced Atlanta with the game in the line, quick fail. Let Black have the job and let’s move on from our mistakes please

  • alan friedman

    Hate to burst your bubble but Parnell became a better pitcher when he stopped trying to blow everyone away with his heater.Thank God for those ground balls he is getting keeping his pitch count down.

  • RS

    I agree he’s been better, and I did not suggest he change his style, but he is what he is. Even when he was throwing 100+ he wasn’t missing many bats. He’s not a shut down closer that can be relied on to get you out of a bases loaded jam… Bobby’s pitch to contact relief style is effective, but sometimes you need a strikeout – the mets haven’t really had that guy (in fairness, a lot of teams don’t really have a kenley jansen, kimbrel, or chapman type.)
    Moneyball strategy is to sell high on closers before they become expensive – anyone think that SA considers moving him in the future?