It is becoming more and more obvious, that the New York Mets front office is not going to add the free agent power bat the team needs so desperately. Any Mets fan can tell you that this is less of a ‘need’ and more of a ‘must’. There is a gaping hole that even the most casual observer can see. Not a product of an often reactionary, extreme, passionate and knee jerk Met fans overactive imagination. It’s a proven fact. From April through July, the Mets were the worst offensive team in the National League
.After the trade deadline move for Yoenis Cespedes, they became the best offensive team in the National League, leading the NL in runs scored (352) and home runs (100).
But I digress, we all know these stats, and after all, this article is about keeping free agency realistic. So scream, yell, cry, curse the wilpons, blame god and/or Bernie Madoff, however it is that you normally like to handle these all too common and uniquely ‘Mets’ situations….
OK, now that we’ve got that out of our systems, let’s take a look at what the Mets can, and more importantly, might do. The second biggest need for this team is bullpen help. Most of the top free agent relievers were signed during the winter meetings, however, there are still a few effective options worth looking into, including some with closing and starting experience.
Tyler Clippard: The last of the consensus top free agent relievers. There is good news and bad news here. The Good: From 2010-2015 he led all relief pitchers by appearing in 440 games and throwing 464 1/3 innings while producing a 2.67 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 9.8 K/9. He saved 32 games in 2012 for the Nationals and was a two time All-Star. The Bad: Every Mets fan watched as he struggled both at the tail end of the season, and more importantly, the postseason. He allowed runs in three of his eight postseason appearances, and in Game 4 of the World Series, he surrendered two walks during the Royals’ game winning rally. Also, there is the most important stat to the Mets front office… money. After earning 8.3 million last season, it would likely take around 7 million and three years to sign him.
Matt Albers: Albers finished 2015 with a 22 1/3 scoreless inning streak after returning from a broken finger. His 1.21 ERA in 2015 is very impressive. Some may argue that this is partially due to good luck as his FIP projects a higher. However, he has spent his last four seasons in notoriously hitter friendly ball parks (Arizona, Chicago and Houston) while posting a 2.32 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. The Bad: He has pitched only 47 1/3 innings over the last two seasons, a very small sample size. Also, he isn’t blowing anybody away with a career 6.1 K/9.
Antonio Bastardo: A man with a curse built into his name would come in handy for Mets fans when he inevitably blows a lead. However, Bastardo retires lefties like few others in baseball. In 2015 while with the Pirates, lefties hit only .138 against him with a .233 on-base percentage and a .215 slugging percentage. His career against lefties: .178/.277/.319. He does walk a few too many hitters and he has a less than stellar club house reputation, but if Bart can straighten him out, you can get potentially the best left killer in the majors for Mets money.
Burke Badenhop: A reliable innings eater with a 3.16 ERA over the last four seasons. He has allowed only 17 homeruns in his last 261 2/3 innings, while pitching in bandboxes like Cincinnati, Boston and Milwaukee. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher, and with the Mets brand new, shiny, slightly above mediocre middle infield, this may be a solid option. The bad: 6.1 career K/9 means he is another guy who isn’t going to overpower anyone. He also had a pretty bad beginning and end to his 2015 season.
Carlos Villanueva: Another innings eater. He can pitch multiple innings successfully to lead into your primary set-up man. Solid 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 in 2015. He has been inconsistent over his career.
Joe Blanton: Don’t laugh… OK, you can laugh, but when you’re done I’ll tell you why he can be a full time Bartolo Colon type out of the pen. Yes, he was retired from baseball. Yes, he started last season in the minors. However, after being called up by the Royals, he posted a 3.89 ERA and 40 K’s in 41 2/3 innings in a starting and relieving role. STAY WITH ME. After moving to the Pirates mid-season he shined coming solely out of the pen. Blanton gave up one run in his first relief appearance with the Pirates, but didn’t give up another for the entire month of August. He finished the season with Pittsburgh’s bullpen posting a 1.57 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.