With the off season now here, it’s time for Sandy Alderson to get to work. We’ll be moving around the diamond to see what challenges the Mets face for 2017, and see what we could do to help fix them, or perhaps mess them up even more. Look, we don’t get paid for this, so Sandy should listen to us at his own risk.
It needs to be said that the most important aspect of Jeurys Familia’s domestic violence incident is what happens with his family going forward. That’s obvious. Me, not being a member of Jeurys Familia’s family, would be talking above my pay grade if I comment on that aspect. I will say that it’s yet another incident that makes me feel uncomfortable rooting for him more than I would the average replacement player. I hope their lives are together, and that this ends with that one incident. He has pleaded not guilty, and she seems to be dropping the charge for what it’s worth. I hope he makes the most of his next chance.
Now, the baseball aspect of all this, I will speak on. You would think that this will affect the way Sandy Alderson attacks the bullpen. But I’m not sure a potential suspension of Familia, whether it be for 30 or 60 games, is going to make Sandy go out and get Kenley Jansen. And that’s a shame, because in this world of ever evolving bullpens, Kenley Jansen might be the perfect free agent to bring in. And I go back and forth on this. Because on the one hand, relievers get paid congruent to the number of saves they get. But on the other hand, that’s changing.
The new breed of GM’s out there are recognizing what value really is in a bullpen. This isn’t 2009 anymore where the “shutdown bullpen” was a guy for the seventh, a guy for the eighth, and a guy for the ninth, and that’s that. People are noticing the way the Indians used Andrew Miller in the regular season. He was, for the most part, the “eighth inning guy” with the Yankees, and then he went to the Indians and pitched a lot of seventh innings, a lot of eighth innings, some ninth innings, and even a tenth. And this postseason, you saw Kenley Jansen morph into that guy a little bit. Sure, some of it was necessity/desperation. But Jansen can come into Flushing, close for a month or two, then be that Andrew Miller type to come in during the seventh and eighth when the spot is tight after that.
Add Addison Reed to that equation, and re-sign Jerry Blevins, you have a fantastic bullpen that you can mix and match against anybody. But if they did either of those things, sadly, it would be a surprise. Alderson has already said that they’re not necessarily looking at a closer type to be that skeleton key, and that Blevins probably wouldn’t get more than a one-year deal to stay in Flushing. So instead we’re looking at a less than overwhelming free agent market with a lot of older guys like Fernando Rodney and Brad Ziegler, and lightning in a bottle guys like Greg Holland, who has been injured for the past year plus, and Neftali Feliz.
But there has to be some trade options as well. Jay Bruce has been the subject of trade rumors involving the Blue Jays. But I’m not sure they’re a great fit. The only person that kinda sorta makes sense for both sides would be Francisco Liriano. Close to equal salaries, same amount of seasons left (1), and Liriano can replace Bartolo Colon as that extra starter if the Mets are really freaking out about that. Perhaps a better match would be the Cleveland Indians. Can Bruce bring back Dan Otero (and perhaps Lonnie Chisenhall as an option at third base if Jose Reyes has to move to second to replace Neil Walker if he goes) in a deal? Could Juan Lagares bring back Sean Doolittle to replace Blevins in the ‘pen? And perhaps they should talk about Stephen Vogt as well, which makes sense with my next scenario: Could Travis d’Arnaud bring back Xavier Cedeno from the Rays? Could the Reds be convinced somehow to let go of Michael Lorenzen?
The good news is that Robert Gsellman will probably wind up being that long man, a role largely forgotten in today’s bullpens but can be extremely important when you’re trying to protect a prized starting rotation. The rest is tricky. It’s always tricky if you just want to fill it up with cheap options. Bringing back Blevins and bringing in Jansen would send shivers down the spines of Washington and the rest of the divison. (Then again, those teams were probably scared in 2009 when the Mets got Frankie Rodriguez and J.J. Putz before they decided that physical examinations were a market inefficiency.)
I guess that’s the pipe dream.