By Eddie Coleman
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New York, NY (WFAN) - Maybe catcher Rob Johnson is the answer. Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson has had to do some serious soul searching of late about his re-constituted bullpen. The combination of losing your top innings-eater (Mike Pelfrey) for the season, some short stints by the starting rotation, and an overworked bullpen have led to some ugly losses recently.
Without a doubt, and for good reason, the Mets’ pen has created some sleepless nights for Alderson lately.
The Mets are no different than any other major league club, says manager Terry Collins – overtax the bullpen and the problems will inherently ensue.
When Collins broke camp in Port St. Lucie with his team this spring, he felt pretty good about his relief corps, but with one major contingency.
This past Thursday, the Mets released ineffective D.J. Carrasco and called up young Robert Carson as a second lefty to join Tim Byrdak. Eventually, change is inevitable said Alderson.
The changes continued on Saturday after another short Jon Niese start, his second 3-inning outing of the season. The Mets, playing inter-league over the weekend, chose to go with 13 pitchers and recalled righty Jeremy Hefner from Buffalo for the second time this season, while dispatching Jordany Valdespin to the minors. Hefner, who had an earlier 3-inning scoreless stint last month, was outstanding again. When Saturday’s starter Miguel Batista had to call it quits after just 2 innings with lower back discomfort, Hefner rode to the rescue again, this time with 5 iniings of solid pitching, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs while striking out 5. Unfortunately, Hefner took the loss when the Blue Jays’ Brandon Morrow threw a complete game shutout at the Mets, but Collins said afterwards that if Batista can’t make his next start Thursday, Hefner is his man.
Trying to put together a bullpen in the off-season or fix a leaky one during the season can often be a complicated and tricky proposition, and Alderson enumerated some of the reasons 1061-5.
Carson and Hefner fit that bill, and there may be others eventually, but Alderson still feels bad about the unstable condition of the pen and the unfortunate spot it puts Collins in.
Chris Schwinden, who’s already made two lackluster starts for the Mets, will drive up from Buffalo Sunday to be on the taxi squad in case the Mets have to make a roster move. And another Chris – Young – will make his next start for Single A St. Lucie on Friday May 25 due to the impending birth of his next child.
And then there’s Jenrry Mejia. The Mets are still unsure about whether he’s a starter or reliever, but he’s getting healthier, and Alderson commented on the next steps for Mejia.
The bullpen has 9 blown saves and that’s tied for the 2nd most in the majors. Bobby Parnell has been a pleasant surprise. Parnell has not allowed an earned run over his last 10 outings spanning 9 innings. His ERA is 2.00 with 18 strikeouts and just 3 walks in 18 innings, and since April 23, his ERA is 0.75. No one’s role in the bullpen is set in stone – everything is flexible. But Alderson cautioned that you have to be wary of change for change sake.
And ultimately, the team itself.
On another note totally unrelated to baseball – before sliding into sports broadcasting, I spent quite a few years as a rock discjockey in the Boston area. You meet a lot of people – some good, some bad, some forgettable, some you wish you’d never met. And then there are the special ones, the ones that never totally leave your thoughts, the ones you wish that you’d gotten to know better but couldn’t or didn’t for whatever reason.
Donna Summer was known as the Disco Queen but she was so much more than that. Born and raised in the Dorchester section of Boston, she ranged far and wide from there but never forgot her roots nor the people and entities that propelled her to fame. She was a good songwriter in her own right, and a great interpreter of other’s works. And Lord, could she sing. She had a big, bold, beautiful voice and a personality to match. She was known for “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff” and “Love To Love You Baby”, but the other side of her always drew me to Donna. If you care, do yourself a favor and check out side 3 of the “Bad Girls” album, all written by her (On My Honor, My Baby Understands, and especially There Will Always Be A You and All Through The Night). I didn’t know her well, wished I’d known her better, was very happy to have met her the times that I did. We lost a good one. R.I.P. LaDonna Gaines.
C U soon