Veteran relievers have advantage in bullpen competition

Latroy Hawkins 1 polaroidTerry Collins says the veterans competing for bullpen spots have an advantage in the competition this spring, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

“A lot of times [veterans] come out of spring training and they are ready,” Collins said according to Puma. “Where the kid coming out making his first major league team out of spring training, you’re not sure how they are going to react early in the year. … One of the things I’ve always thought, the middle of the season you bring those young guys up and the energy is regained in the clubhouse.”

The Mets signed RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Latroy Hawkins, LHP Pedro Feliciano to minor league contracts, and signed RHP Brandon Lyon to a Major League contract this winter.

Michael Baron, Contributor

I agree with Collins, although it’s worth noting how poorly the bullpen performed with established veterans in it last year.  But the bullpen is a crapshoot every year, and who is down there on Opening Day won’t necessarily be there later in the season. And, with Frank Francisco being a huge question mark to start the season healthy, that leaves the door open for one of the younger guys to make the roster, Greg Burke, a right-handed submariner who is on the 40-man roster.

The Mets absolutely need to carry two left-handed relievers on the roster. They got killed with Tim Byrdak being the lone lefty in the bullpen last year, and he became overworked and eventually needed major shoulder surgery. Collins has already expressed a desire to carry two lefties in the bullpen, which is good news. If they do so, I would expect Josh Edgin will be one of them, and either Feliciano or Robert Carson will be the other. However, I expect the Mets will take Feliciano north if he’s healthy – the Mets can use an option on Carson and maintain flexibility with his 40-man roster spot this season.