Bullpen spots will likely go to veterans in camp

Scott Atchison 1 polaroidIn a report for the New York Times, Andrew Keh says despite a poor bullpen last year and many contenders in camp, there may only be one spot available in the bullpen.

In addition, Keh says the Mets are likely to choose their relievers not so much based on their performances during Spring Training, but their track records over a period of years.

When asked how he begins to form his opinions about whom to enroll into the bullpen, the pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “I look at the back of the baseball card,” Warthen told Keh in regards to who he would pick for the bullpen.

Similarly, Terry Collins told Keh, “It’s the old adage, ‘Be careful of what you see in March, and be careful of what you see in September, because you can get fooled. So track records mean a lot.”

The Mets have relievers Jeremy Hefner, Josh Edgin, Frank Francisco, Robert Carson, Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, Greg Burke, Jeurys Familia, and Jenrry Mejia on the active roster.

They signed Scott Atchison, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Latroy Hawkins, Aaron Laffey, Scott Rice, and Carlos Torres to minor league contracts and invited them to camp this spring.

Michael Baron, Contributor

This is nothing new, as Terry Collins said at the very beginning of camp he would lean more towards the veterans than he would the younger guys for the bullpen. Of course, we’ve learned over the last two years track records for relievers might not have a strong significance, but I understand what both Collins and Warthen are saying.

I think the only solids in the bullpen for Opening Day are Edgin, Parnell, and Lyon. I expect Francisco and Johan Santana will open the season on the disabled list. That means Hefner will likely come out of the bullpen and into the rotation to open the season, leaving two bullpen slots temporarily vacant with Francisco on the shelf. Familia is making a strong case for himself this spring, but he along with Mejia and Carson could be optioned the minors – there could be as many as four openings for Burke, Atchison, Hawkins, and one of Feliciano, Rice or Laffey, assuming they go with seven in the bullpen. Rice and Laffey’s chances (both left-handers) will be determined by whether or not the team feels comfortable going with Feliciano. In any case, the 40-man roster is full – the Mets have to create space on the for any one of these relievers, not to mention position players (such as Omar Quintanilla and Marlon Byrd). But Collins has said he wants to take two left-handed relievers north, and so I expect one of the aforementioned three will make the team.