Neil Before Me

So the Mets are trying to address a ghastly bullpen and today announced they’d signed Neil Ramirez to a contract and he’ll be in uniform tonight — No. 55 — as they face Arizona.

The extent to which Neil Ramirez can be the “answer” is a matter of some debate — he’s been released by two clubs already this year and has yet to match a short stretch of success he had as a Cubs rookie a few years back — but I’d agree it’s time to do something. This bullpen in particular is churning up memories of 2008 when similarly disappointing returnees and a merry-go-round of cheap acquirees (Luis Ayala, Brandon Knight, Tony Armas, Scott Schoeneweis, and so on) seemed basically infected with a strain of lost confidence.

And while the bullpen pitchers are ultimately at fault, some of the blame needs to go to old Terry, whose use of the pen reeks of his lack of confidence in some guys and over-confidence (and overuse) among others; and to the rotation, whose poor efforts require more help than the club has been able to offer (and who repeatedly commit the sin of giving back every run the club scores as soon as possible); and to the offense, who, especially early on, made every game a do-or-die bullpen situation by failing to support the starters or give them any breathing room. Good teams simply cannot allow themselves to have their fates determined by 12th or 13th best pitcher on them (or the best relievers working to protect 5-run leads) and the way to do that is to make better starts and hit the ball harder.

It could be, the best move for the bullpen would be to turn Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes into pinch hitters; get Robert Gsellman two weeks of starts in Las Vegas and got get Zimmo and Cecchini already.

But for now, the best move is Neil Rodriguez.

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  1. 9th String Catcher says:

    To me, TC is a little inconsistent, but generally does an ok job with the bullpen. I’m just wondering if the issue is more about the pitching coach. The tendencies I’ve seen is that the starters nibble like crazy, walk the ballpark, and get their pitch counts up so quickly that it’s off to the middle innings guys again. No way you can sustain that. If the starters don’t have an out pitch, they need to develop a better strategy. Batters foul off pitch after pitch, work the counts and sit on the fastballs. At least, that’s what it looks like to me.

    The starters (the ones not injured at least) have good stuff, but I think they need to make adjustments. Scouting reports have helped the league figure out Gsellman – he needs to come at it a different way. Same thing for some of the other rotation guys. To me, that’s where a pitching coach is needed most.

  2. Jon Springer says:

    Those are great points. For me it’s hard to make a case that Warthen would suddenly embrace or encourage or even tolerate a nibble strategy but you’re right, he needs to get them to adjust now that the Blow-Away Factor seems to have vanished. I’m also troubled with just how inconsistent guys like Robles have been. They too need work on the approach. As for Terry I feel like he eased them in during Spring so gently, then made a point to demonstrate how concerned he was about pitch counts in April that he started racking up the bullpen miles too soon and suddenly had guys like Salas over their heads. And now that Familia’s out the margin for error disappeared. It’s a bit of a mess.

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