Posted by Frank Gray at 12:00 PM
In the first portion of this three part series, we examined three starting pitchers that need to be monitored closely this month. For the second part, we take a look at four more players. They will be divided into two bullpen pitchers and two bench players.
4) Bobby Parnell- Last season, Parnell was supposed to be the closer of the future. He had to share the job of ending games with Jason Isringhausen after the team traded K-Rod in July. He still may have the triple digit fastball to get the job done, but the 2011 season proved that he lacks the edge a closer so desperately needs.
With six blown saves in twelve chances last season, Parnell showed he doesn't have the metal to be the dominant closer. The team brought in two pitchers (one will be discussed in a minute) to try and fill that very big void. So what happens to Parnell? It will depend on how manager Terry Collins decides to use him.
If he platoons him with Jon Rauch as the setup man in the eight inning, it will most likely be when Rauch fills in for the new closer Frank Francisco in the ninth, when Rauch needs a rest or when the match up favors Parnell and the Mets. Otherwise, his 3.64 ERA, 60 hits and 29 runs in 59 innings pitched earned him a shared role this season again.
5) Frankie Francisco- The new acquisition to fill the ninth inning role left behind from the departure of Francisco Rodriguez is aptly named Frankie Frank. With the same name twice, the Mets hope he is twice as good as their options in the second half last season. Francisco had 17 saves last season in 21 opportunities for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.
He shared the role with Jon Rauch last season. Therefore, sharing it again this season with the same pitcher but for another team should not be that different. His comfort level should be solid entering this year for that reason alone. Normally, when a player enters a new clubhouse, there will be a period of adjustment. In this case, he will see at least one familiar face.
The issue to watch with him in March will be his health. He has missed 94 games in the past three years, including last season. He has not pitched a full season in a very long time. The Mets coaching staff will be trying to get him better conditioned to prepare to handle a full-time closer role as healthy as possible.
6) Josh Satin- Last September, the Mets and their fans were enamored with the arrival of Josh Satin. It was almost a Lee Mazzilli-esque type scenario in that Satin was embraced immediately. The trouble is that he did not do too well in that debut. The former minor league player of the year hit .200 with five hits, three RBI and one double in 15 games.
Hardly impressive. Still, it was just a small sample of his ability. He did well in the field and started to pick it up offensively at the end of his stint. This season, he is expected by many to make the team as a bench player when they break from Spring Training. If he has a bad month, he very well may not make the cut.
If he has a great showing, he can solidify himself on the roster and perhaps compete for a starter spot later in the season. With all that said, Satin is a players capable of fielding multiple positions and is the type of player Terry Collins cherishes.
The main question with him this month will be how he has matured as a hitter. Will that experience last season help his confidence or hurt it? Time will tell but we will find out in the next few weeks.
7) Kirk Neiuwenhuis- After a shoulder injury shut him down last season in Triple-A, Neiuwenhuis is healthy and eager to prove he is ready to live up to the comparisons to Jim Edmonds. That is not too unfair of a comparison. He has tremendous athleticism and range in the field to go with solid gap power at the plate.
The problem is that unless Andres Torres falters in Spring Training and he explodes onto the scene, he will most likely begin the year in Buffalo. Reserve outfielder Scott Hairston is still battling his oblique injury, but even if Haiston misses time, Neiuwenhuis will not be a backup.
The team wants him to get used to playing full-time as he will most likely have that role at some point in Queens. Therefore, Triple-A makes the most sense. The future is not too far off, however. We could be talking about him this time next year as the starting CF.
His only job this March will be to make the Mets decision that more difficult.
****Look for the final part tomorrow****