With all the talk about trading Carlos Beltran, something that is flying under the radar is how expendable many of the Met relievers are. That is, if you assume that the Mets should be more focused on 2012 and beyond than a season that finds them 8.5 out of the wild card and 12 behind the Phillies for the NL East lead. And I hope you do.
Simply put, if anyone on the roster isn’t signed for 2012, nor is likely to contribute in 2012 and beyond, and the Mets can get value in a trade for that reliever, Sandy Alderson should do it. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Jason Isringhausen: Trade him. 38, not signed beyond this year. Perhaps they can make an Isringhausen deal in reverse- back in 1999, the Mets traded the young Isringhausen for a washed-up Billy Taylor and Greg McMichael. Could a young relief arm be theirs in a trade? Let’s hope that consideration outweighs the desire to keep Izzy around for a heart-wrenching moment at Citi Field, when he reaches the 300-save threshold. Other relievers should be closing, anyway (see also; help in 2012 and beyond).
Tim Byrdak: Trade him. He’s a lefty with a sound history and a strong 2011. He’s striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings. He’s 37, and only signed through the end of the year. Can a prospect be had for him? If so, bring up Mike O’Connor and let him try the role. 2012 and beyond, remember?
Bobby Parnell: Keep him, make him the closer. I know it is fashionable to say Parnell isn’t consistent enough to be a closer, or he’s not strange enough, or he’s way too beardy (or not beardy enough?). Whatever. He’s a strong reliever with a terrific strikeout and reasonably walk rate. Let him close already. He’ll be fine, and if he continues to refine his slider, will be more than fine. This “he can set up, but he can’t close” nonsense is equivalent to the Quadruple-A hitter. Guys succeed in extensive action not closing, but when they falter as closers, they are quickly replaced. Small sample size, in other words. Show me someone who failed for years as a closer, but succeeded for years as a middle reliever, and then I’ll believe. Same for hitters who mashed in a couple of thousand at-bats at Triple-A, but failed in that much time at the MLB level.
Pedro Beato: Keep him, but his K-rate is half of Parnell’s. No need to put him in highest-leverage situations. Getting him MLB innings is plenty of challenge to get him evaluated for 2012 and beyond.
D.J. Carrasco: If a prospect is to be had, he can be dealt. But that seems unlikely, given his uneven performance. Getting him straightened out for 2012, when he is still signed, remember, seems like a better choice, given the lack of trade interest he’s likely to generate.
Manny Acosta: Eh, mop-up is mop-up.
Replacements for Byrdak, Izzy: The aforementioned O’Connor is fine as a lefty. For Izzy, I’d really like to see John Lujan, mostly out of curiosity. There are plenty of high-K replacements available in Buffalo for the bullpen. Let them be younger, if possible.