(Photo by Dave Conde, Metsmerized Online)
As expected, the Mets have re-signed Kyle Farnsworth to minor-league deal. He actually traveled to Viera yesterday when the Mets played the Nationals.
Kyle Farnsworth, who was released by the Mets on Sunday, is officially due to be re-signed Tuesday, according to a report by Adam Rubin. He is expected to open the season in the minors.
The move saved the Mets a $100,000 retention bonus, which they were unwilling to pay.
Farnsworth needs to wait 48 hours to re-sign. That will satisfy to the Players’ Association that Farnsworth unsuccessfully looked for other opportunities and is not just allowing the Mets to circumvent that collective-bargaining-agreement mandated $100,000 bonus.
Farnsworth has struggled all spring (5.63 ERA) and his fastball velocity was down to 87-89 mph. He was not expected to make the Mets opening day roster.
Updating my 2014 Mets Bullpen Projection with a quote from Terry Collins that suggests Jose Valverde is moving closer to ensuring a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
“I don’t know where, but he’s certainly making a very, very strong case for a guy who’s going to pitch in the back side of that bullpen, no doubt,” Terry Collins told beat writers on Monday. “He just takes it even keel every day, and if we’re as young as we think we’re going to be we’re going to need that.”
As we venture closer and closer to a new Mets season, some elements of the Opening Day roster are already beginning to take shape. Based on what I’ve read and discerned, I believe the following seven relievers will comprise the Mets bullpen to open the 2014 season.
The Magnificent Seven?
Bobby Parnell – In the “no-doubt-about-it” category, you have Bobby Parnell, the team’s undisputed closer. He continues to make good progress and in Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals, his fastball was in the 88-89 mph range which Parnell says is relatively normal for this time of year. Team officials have become less and less concerned about his readiness and by all accounts he’s good to go.
Vic Black – The hard-throwing righthander we pillaged from the Pirates last season is also a lock for the bullpen. Black has been plagued by inconsistency and bouts of wildness, but his walk rates continue to improve and hopefully his confidence will as well. He’s going to log a lot of late inning relief to start the season as the Mets look to see what they have in him.
Carlos Torres – One of the nicest surprises from the 2013 season, Torres has shown the capacity to be a solid long reliever for the Mets. While his spot in the bullpen was not assured as pitchers and catchers reported to camp, Terry Collins put any doubts to rest and said the righthander will indeed be in the Mets bullpen to start the season. Torres tossed two more scoreless innings on Wednesday, raising his total to six in Grapefruit League play.
Scott Rice – If you’re a lefty and can do a batter than decent job against lefthanded batters, you’re a lock for the Mets bullpen. Rice had a surprising rookie season at the age of 31 and posted a 3.71 ERA in 73 appearances last season. He held lefthanded batters to a .171 average and .468 OPS in 2013. Well done, kid… Err, sir…
Jeurys Familia – The long-forgotten righthanded fireballer has impressed scouts, coaches and pretty much everyone who has seen him throw off a mound in the last three months. After an impressive stint during Winter Ball, Familia continues to throw high-octane heat at Port St. Lucie. 2014 will be his breakthrough season and by September he’ll be the Mets’ official setup man and closer of the future. You heard it here first. You heard it here in October. Just remember you heard it here.
John Lannan – If we assume that a second lefty is as essential as Terry Collins seems to be letting on, Lannan is your sixth man in the bullpen. He has virtually no competition at all – now that every other lefthanded reliever was dispatched to minor league camp on Tuesday. I’ve already wrote extensively about what a bad idea Lannan is. What I find extremely questionable is that the sole purpose you carry a lefty specialist is to get lefthanded batters out. Take a look at these splits:
Lannan vs RHB – .267 AVG, .359 OBP
Lannan vs LHB – .281 AVG, .378 OBP
Lannan vs RHB – .288 AVG, .358 OBP
Lannan vs LHB – .323 AVG, .371 OBP
Do the math. Looking at those opposing on-base percentages presents a gloomy outlook when Lannan comes in to face some of the most feared lefthanded sluggers in the league. Get out your rally towels.
Jose Valverde – This one-time solid closer is my choice for the final bullpen spot, and what will likely represent another bad decision by the organization. Valverde, now 36, is currently sporting the worst numbers of any Mets pitcher battling for a bullpen spot. But Terry Collins says he doesn’t care about his numbers “because he’s done it.”
Here’s what he’s done actually. Last year, the Tigers decided to bring Valverde back on a minor league deal after the veteran reliever couldn’t land a major league job elsewhere. He made the team out of Spring Training, but after just 20 relief appearances and going 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA, he was designated for assignment in June. The right-hander spent the remainder of the season at Triple-A Toledo.
Perhaps Valverde can rediscover his velocity and the life on his pitches that once made him a very effective closer, but at 36 it’s more likely that Jim Leyland is right and that his best days are long behind him. But what the heck does Leyland know… Plus we need Valverde to head up the Dominican Mafia as I read on another blog.
Who didn’t make the cut?
Jenrry Mejia is the big loser here, getting pushed out of the rotation by Dice-K and then squeezed out of the bullpen by the likes of Jose Valverde and John Lannan. But apparently the Mets believe the veterans have a better arsenal and give the Mets a better chance of competing this season. I disagree. There isn’t a scout in Florida who wouldn’t vouch for Mejia over Lannan and Valverde.
Kyle Farnsworth is also out of the picture, and deservedly so. He has struggled all spring and his fastball velocity is now down to 87 mph continuing it’s steep decline. In recent years his velocity has dropped from 96.0 mph in 2009, 94.9 in 2010, 94.7 in 2011, 93.2 in 2012 and 92.6 last year.
Jeff Walters (26) and Jacob deGrom (25) were also in the competition, but this morning each were optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. We’ll see both of them at some point this season, I’m sure. Scouts also love both of these arms and we actually felt good about both their chances. But the Mets will tough it out with grizzled veterans signed off the scrapheap while their own high-upside internal options head back to the minors.