By Rich Coutinho
» More Columns
Mets fans have been put through the wringer the past few days.
They lost two games on this road trip – Saturday in Atlanta and last night in D.C. – where they took a late lead only to have the bullpen blow the game not once, but twice. In fact, last night’s debacle was reminiscent of a game earlier in the year the Mets lost in Washington . How big were those two games? It meant four games in the NL East standings and the difference between being three games back of the Nationals as opposed to the seven games behind they see themselves in today.
I firmly believe the Mets have enough hitting to win. Their trio of starters (Santana, Dickey, and Niese) can guide them through the choppy waters of a wild card race, but oh that bullpen — meltdowns can ravage a team and it needs to be fixed. So how do you do it? A great start would be to bring back Francisco Rodriguez who could have a huge impact on this bullpen. Last night in Milwaukee, he really looked like the old K-Rod — putting runners on first and third with none out and then wiggling out of the jam to give the Brewers a win over the hated Cardinals on a night Ryan Braun left the game with an injury.
K-Rod has had a rough journey in Milwaukee going there last year and failing to get the contract he desired in the off-season which has left him in the set-up role aside from a few times like last night where he has been called upon to do what he is best suited doing-closing games. I think you get him back to New York, give him his old job back, and most importantly, gives him a chance to re-write the story of his time in New York. When Frank Francisco returns (and I get the feeling that is no time soon) if K-Rod is performing you give the other “Francisco” the 8th inning because that is what is best for team. If K-Rod is struggling, you put him in the 8th inning and tell him it is due to lack of performance.
You can also return Bobby Parnell to the 7th inning once the two “Franciscos” are in full swing and the numbers prove that he has been the most succesful in that inning. You still have your two lefties — Brydak and Edgin to deal with southpaw matchup situations and the rest of the guys in that pen are inning eaters. Now, you may need to go out and get another arm if Frank Francisco’s oblique continues to bark, like a Jonathan Broxton but K-Rod is a great place to start the renovation of this bullpen.
This team has fought too hard all year to keep losing games in the fashion they have been losing them. I firmly believe it will not take much from Milwaukee to get this done — a lower level prospect or two at most — and it will at least bring in a guy who closed before in this town and will be extremely motivated to perform at a high level.
It would also fit into the Sandy Alderson philosophy of trying to improve the team without sacrificing any of his big prospects. I think it would be a low-risk, high reward move that could turn around the fortunes of the Mets bullpen.