Prior to spring training, I was excited about the potential for the Mets bullpen. We had some young arms in the minors that were vying for their shot. Additionally we were going to have holdovers of Bobby Parnell, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, and Gonzalez Germen occupying four of the spots.
If the competition for the final three spots was limited to just these four, it would have been exciting so see. Let’s also not forget that we also had Jenrry Mejia who was looking to make the rotation, but was also in consideration for a spot in the pen. We had prospect Erik Goeddel, who was also on the 40 man roster and was being transitioned after a minor league career as a starter. We also had holdover Josh Edgin looking to lock down the second lefty spot, as well as other dark horse candidates for the pen. It was already a crowded field before four non-roster invitees were added into the mix off of the scrap heap.
John Lannan wasn’t particularly good, but he made the team and squeezed out one of the younger guys because he threw left-handed. After a couple of rocket ships to the moon, he was gone.
Jose Valverde made the team out of spring, and while there was some hope at the onset – there was a reason he was jettisoned by the Tigers and why he was removed as the closer rather quickly after Bobby Parnell was lost for the season. He’s now been regulated to the last man in the pen, occupying a spot that would best be suited to see what one of the younger guys has. He’ll be gone before long, but his time has come. He’s had a good major league run and should hold his head up high with a career to be proud of… however Father Time caught up with him and the good days passed him some time ago.
Kyle Farnsworth didn’t make the team out of spring training. There simply wasn’t room at the inn for him on March 31st. He took an assignment to the minors because no one else wanted him. He got the nod over one of the younger guys when Parnell went down and while he certainly didn’t deserve to be cut before Valverde (in a move that was purely done for Pocket Book Reasons), his time with the team was also nearing a close as the team was already positioning itself to audition Familia as closer. While I understand his bitterness and disappointment at being unceremoniously dumped, he too should hold his head high and be proud of his major league career. If he manages to catch on somewhere else, he shouldn’t be mad at the Mets – for if it wasn’t for them, he would have already rode off into the sunset.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is perhaps the most surprising one of these veteran non-roster invitees on the team. He pitched well at the very end for the Mets last season and had a good spring training, pitching well enough to grab a spot on the team. He was surprised he didn’t earn the #5 spot in the rotation, but accepted a AAA assignment without complaint. The wait wasn’t long at all and after Lannan was released, Dice-K came back to the majors and assumed a role he had never held before – Bullpen Man. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been good. He’s been better than good – in fact, other than that one horrible outing in Miami on May 5th where it was obvious from the onset he didn’t have it and was kept in way too long – he’s been outstanding.
When you sign the veteran guys to minor league contracts with invites to spring training, you’re hoping to catch lighting in a bottle with one of them. All four of these guys have had their crack in the majors this year. Daisuke is the only one who seized the opportunity and refused to let go.
Now it’s time to see what the kids can do.