(Jeremy Affeldt, potential bargain)
An MLB worst 29 blown saves in 2008 loom as a large factor in the Mets’ September 2008 collapse, but as Statistically Speaking‘s Pizza Cutter reminds, “they managed to get along for more than a month and made up some serious ground without Billy Wagner.” Calling this week’s acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, “making decisions based on the psychological wounds of last season”, Sir Cutter warns, “it feels good, but not everything that feels good is good for you.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
It’s not a bad thing to improve the bullpen and it’s hard to argue that the Mets haven’t by picking up half of the closers in the AL West. Say what you will about the saves record being meaningless, but K-Rod is a really good pitcher. J.J. Putz, even last year while hurt was still a 10 K / 9 IP guy (and his walk rate was actually about what K-Rod’s was… and K-Rod was healthy). The Mets, when you break it down, gave up some “prospects” and downgraded on their fourth outfielder from the no-hit/good glove Endy Chavez to the no-hit/decent glove Jeremy Reed to get Putz. There’s no doubt that the Mets are a better team (I should probably add in the usual “on paper”) now than they were at the end of the season.
Think for a moment what the Mets (think they) are buying. Basically, they want stomach relief and they believe that a “closer” (or two) can provide this. Now they don’t have to worry in the ninth inning. And with Putz, the eighth inning is safe too. That’s got to be a nice feeling. The problem is that when you manage with your feelings, it feels great, but you can get burned.
What if they had taken the $12 million per (why does that suddenly sound reasonable?) that they will be paying K-Rod (plus whatever Putz makes, although he’s in the slave years… so keep him), and spent it elsewhere. While finding a good relief pitcher will probably help them, did they get the right guy? Why not Jeremy Affeldt? No, he’s not as good as K-Rod, and never will be. But you could get three of him and be more sure about the 6th and 7th innings and still pretty sure about the 9th. But that’s not what people want they want a “lockdown” closer. It’s apparently OK if the game is lost in the sixth inning. You just can’t lose it in the ninth inning.