I mention the Mets’ need for outfielders pretty frequently here, what with the Mets desperately needing outfielders and all. What I haven’t discussed since the offseason is their need for relief pitchers, mostly because relief pitchers should be easier to find on the cheap than outfielders.
The way I figure it, as it currently stands the Mets’ Opening Day bullpen would include Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin and four pitchers from a group that includes Greg Burke, Jeremy Hefner, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez, Robert Carson, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, and Gonzalez Germen.
So youth is on their side, at least. And I don’t think that group would necessarily make for as bad of a bullpen as it looks on paper, given their lack of Major League experience. Hefner and McHugh can both throw strikes in a long-relief role, Burke and Ramirez both succeeded in Minor League bullpens last year, and Carson, Familia and Mejia all throw hard. I know next to nothing about Gonzalez Germen.
But neither Burke nor Ramirez has done much in the Majors yet, both Familia and Mejia should probably be starting games in Triple-A at the season’s outset, and Carson looked pretty hittable in the Minors in 2012.
Still, I’m finishing this post with a different conclusion than I thought I’d reach. The Mets probably need one steady bullpen arm and maybe a few guys on non-roster invites to compete for a job to create a reasonable big-league bullpen, but not the complete revamp I figured. Parnell’s good, Francisco underperformed his peripherals in 2012 and should bounce back a bit, and Edgin appears promising. Burke’s dominance in the Minors in 2012 suggests he can probably hold down a big-league job. So if the Mets brought in just one guy they can be reasonably confident will be a good reliever in 2013, they could let Hefner and McHugh battle for the long-man job in Spring Training, set Familia, Mejia and Germen for starting roles in the Minors and throw the remaining job up for grabs among every other pitcher they’ve got in camp.
Of course, last year the Mets brought in several guys they were reasonably confidence would be good relievers and it didn’t work out very smoothly. Going with a group of mostly younger guys, in-house options and scrap-heap finds seems apt to serve them at least as well without costing them most of their offseason resources.