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A Word About Bullpens

Posted By Howard Megdal On April 20, 2011 @ 2:43 pm In Player moves | Comments Disabled

I have heard plenty of complaining about the budget-conscious Mets and their lack of spending on the bullpen. And there is clear correlation between the team’s lack of spending on the current relief crew and the results, which continued to be ugly last night.

But while, if Sandy Alderson took the truth serum that Brian Cashman seems to have added to his daily vitamins, he’d acknowledge wanting to spend more on corner outfield help and at second base, I’m guessing that wouldn’t extend to the bullpen. He’d certainly be far from certain to get his money’s worth.

Consider how volatile bullpen performance is. The best reliever in the big leagues so far has probably been Aaron Crow of the Kansas City Royals, who put up a 5.73 ERA as a starter last year-in Single-A and Double-A.

Meanwhile, Kenley Jansen and his sub-1.00 ERA for the Dodgers in 2010 has led to an ERA well above 11 in 2011 so far.

And if you think the solution is to go get veterans guys with recent excellent performance, Brian Cashman has a Pedro Feliciano and a Rafael Soriano to sell you, provided you will take on their contracts.

More to the point, if you think bullpen performances are volatile, partial April sample sizes are Tyson-esque. So proceed cautiously with any conclusions about this Mets group. Unfortunately, with bullpens, the best bet is to acquire many low-cost alternatives, and hope for the best.

That’s why, if Sandy Alderson had more money to spend, he’d likely have acquired a stronger corner outfielder crop, with Carlos Beltran in right and Jason Bay in left. (Anyone who assumed Bay, coming off of a concussion, was a sure thing for 150 games of strong production was optimistic in the extreme.)

But I’d bet he would arrange the bullpen pretty much the same way. More options, perhaps, but no Sorianos or Felicianos.

Perhaps by next month, that will make him look like a genius. That’s the glory of bullpen performance.

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