Posted by Frank Gray at 6:00 PM
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Frank Gray. I am a lifetime Mets fan and a writer since I can remember. I combined my love of sports and writing into a personal blog called New York Fan in South Jersey. I then took my love of the Mets and earned the title of Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report Mets Community. I also am the creator of an outstanding New York Giants blog called Big Giants Boom. I keep busy.
Each week I will write a few posts here on Mack's Mets. One will be a "This week in Mets history" type of article and the other will be my own observations and opinions. I hope you enjoy it. I have a tendency to have an abnormal way of viewing things. It makes for a fun time.
Enough about me, let's talk about what we all log on here to read up on: the New York Mets. More specifically, I want to look at the closers for next year. Sandy Alderson went on the air in the middle of a telecast and basically stated they will shop free agency for a closer next year. For all of those who held on to the belief that Bobby Parnell is the man for the future, now's the time to let go.
The Mets will not be looking to fill this void for the next 10 years in one signing this off season, though. The team has several outstanding and young options to take the reigns of closer in the 9th inning for the next several years. They just need someone to handle nit for the next year or two. They have players like Dale Thayer, Rhiner Cruz, Josh Edgin, Nick Carr, Ryan Fraser and Jack Leathersich all coming up in the system in the next year to three years.
The Mets have options for the long-term. It's the short-term that they really have a problem with. After looking at the list of potential free agents and available veteran closers, I see five players that jump out at me. I must specify that this list is in no particular order.
Heath Bell: First up is the prodigal son. Bell came up with the Mets and played with them for three years until they unwisely traded him with Royce Ring for two no names in November of 2006. Bell had another great year with San Diego a midst trade rumors. He posted a 2
.44 ERA and had 43 saves.
He is 34 years old and will be hitting the age where closers begin to go into decline in and Alderson will be looking to save money. Especially if they re-sign Reyes to a huge deal. n a few years. This will be his last big contract. That works against the Mets. He'll be looking to cash in. If the numbers get lower and lower for Bell and the process takes longer and longer, he may debate a return to the team that dealt him.
He has long been known as anti-Mets. Wouldn't you be if they brought you up as an amateur just to trade you for a can on beans? I believe Alderson's ties to the Padres can help convince Bell that the Mets administration is different now and worth forgiving them for their past transgressions. Alderson also knows that a name like Bell would put fans in the seats in 2012 for what otherwise will be probably another building year.
Octavio Dotel: Like Bell, Dotel was signed as an amateur free agent by the Mets. He joined the organization in 1993. He was dealt with a handful of players, including Roger Cedeno in December of 1999 to the Astros for Mike Hampton and Derek Bell when the Mets were building a World Series contender for 2000.
Dotel is another player that developed into a closer after leaving New York. He has been used more as a set-up man in recent years, but can close out games. Due to his age (38), he would be a cheaper option as well. He's not the sexy name like Bell or Papelbon would be, but in Queens, he would be a difference-maker at the ticket boxes.
Joe Nathan: A name that baseball fans know but haven't heard in a few years, Nathan has 261 career saves. He missed all of 2010 but recorded 14 saves this season on his road to a comeback. The Twins will most likely not be paying him the $12.5 million to pick up the option on him, thus making him a free agent.
The Mets can get an experienced closer at a cheap cost in a incentive-laden contract while he proves his health. Sound familiar? Nathan is this off season's Jason Isringhausen. That worked out well for the Mets last year. This is the type of deal Alderson usually seems more comfortable with. He's a winner either way.
One way, Nathan succeeds and the team does well, the other way, Nathan is not himself or doesn't recover well enough and it's not much money spent. Like Izzy, it's a chance worth taking for the Mets in a short-term situation.
Matt Capps: The former Pittsburgh Pirates standout was less than outstanding in a limited role this year for the Minnesota Twins. He posted a 4.25 ERA with 15 saves in 65.1 Innings pitched. He will be looking to rebound from these numbers, but he will not get the deal he would like as a result of them.
He is still young at 28 years old. He will be needing a small contract where he can do well in order to earn a larger contract a year or two later. That is the perfect scenario for the Mets. They underpay for a talented pitcher at the back end of their bullpen. When his contract is over, they go even younger and more dominant. It's a win-win for Alderson.
Ryan Madson: The Phillies reliever has only known one team in his career. He will be commanding a lot of money for his services next year. He has shown he can pitch middle relief, set-up and close out games too. This season alone, he did all three for the Phillies. His 32 saves after Brad Lidge went down will bring him a closer's ransom in the off season.
If Alderson wants to make a statement this off season, he would be a good start. That's not Alderson's style, but Madson has said good things about the Mets and wants to test the market. While there will be interest from several teams, the Mets could land him in the right scenario. Other closers like Papelbon, Broxton and K-Rod (remember him?) will be dominating the market early on for those teams in need of a good closer.
Madson will have to wait for his contract. That can play well into the Mets hands and help the contract be a lot less than Madson would want. That would most likely force him to settle for a one or two year deal just to have somewhere to play next season, thereby giving the Mets a steal on the market.