Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Short Post on Daniel Herrera

Last year, the Mets acquired Daniel Herrera from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Francisco Rodriguez deal.  The diminutive lefty pitched surprisingly well for the Mets after his acquisition, allowing only one run in 16 appearances.  At Citi Field, he allowed no runs in ten relief appearances.

Despite his unexpected success with the Mets, Herrera was placed on waivers in January to make room for backup infielder Ronny Cedeño on the 40-man roster.  Two months later, after not being claimed by another team, Herrera has found his way back to the Mets, trying to compete for a spot in the bullpen.

As of now, the only lefty guaranteed to be a part of the relief corps is Tim Byrdak.  Robert Carson was vying to become the second lefty in the Mets bullpen, but he suffered an abdominal muscle strain last week, making it unlikely for him to break camp when the team comes north in four weeks.

So why not give Daniel Herrera a chance to make the team out of spring training?  We already saw what can happen when a team relies too much on one lefty specialist in the bullpen.  The Mets used Pedro Feliciano ad nauseum from 2008 to 2010.  Then he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2011 season and is currently tied with me in relief appearances for the Bronx Bombers.

Over the past three seasons, Tim Byrdak has not been used as much as Feliciano was.  (Byrdak has made 212 appearances since 2009, while Feliciano appeared in 266 games over his last three seasons in the majors.)  But Byrdak is now 38.  If he's the only lefty in the Mets' bullpen, he may be overused.  Overusage and advanced age don't mix very well.

Daniel Herrera is only 27.  He has only pitched in 131 games in parts of four seasons in the majors.  That's less than half the games Feliciano pitched in during his final three seasons with the Mets.  He is also effective against lefties, allowing only three hits to them after his trade to the Mets.  It appears as if the bullpen will be comprised of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Manny Acosta, with two (or three, if the Mets choose to go with 13 pitchers) of the remaining spots to be filled by either Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Miguel Batista, Pedro Beato or Herrera.  It should be noted that Herrera is the only southpaw in that final group.

The Mets might have more experience with Parnell, Carrasco, et al., but they really need another lefty in the bullpen after Byrdak.  Byrdak's ERA has gone up in every year since 2009 and over the past two seasons, he has allowed 113 base runners in 76.1 innings.  That's not good enough if he's to be the Mets' sole southpaw.  If the Mets want another option to face lefties, then the man they should turn to is Daniel Herrera.  He's earned his chance.  Now it's time to give him the ball.  Herrera might be small in stature, but given the opportunity, he can play a big role in the Mets bullpen.

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