Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Next Mets Closer Frank Francisco?


Sandy Alderson's top priority this off season (Besides Reyes Contract) is to build a reliable bullpen. That starts with the closer.

With a payroll that will be shaved thirty percent from 2011, Alderson has the unenviable task of finding someone who can close games at a reasonable price. The average salary for a closer is in the neighborhood of five million dollars, the elite guys make significantly more than the average.

Alderson has acknowledged the psychological importance of a dependable closer, so it is unlikely that he will look for reclamation projects (hence the disinterest in Broxton). The bad news is Broxton received a one year deal for four million dollars.

If a damaged guy like Broxton is receiving money that is close to the average for a closer, it will be very difficult for Alderson to secure someone on the cheap who can be counted on to get the job done night after night. So what are the options?

Recently, there have been rumblings about the Mets having interest in Octavio Dotel. While I would like Dotel in the bullpen, but I still see him as a setup guy.



Dotel is still very effective against right handed hitters (a minuscule .410 OPS in 2011) but lefties feast on him (a whopping .845 OPS in 2011). Dotel would be a great addition as a situational reliever but asking him to close would be setting him up to fail.

Matt Capps is another name that is frequently mentioned. Capps is young and has good control but nothing else is attractive about him. His strikeout rate of less than five K's per nine innings is putrid for a closer. His 2011 ERA of 4.25 in a pitcher's park in an easy division is a HUGE red flag.

K-Rod is available and he has proven that he can handle New York, no small consideration for a pressure role, but his effectiveness is diminishing and he is a ticking time bomb. The K-Rod ship has sailed.

Francisco Cordero had an outstanding season in 2011 but his price, age and free falling rate of strikeouts per nine innings are all red flags.

The process of elimination seems to point to Frank Francisco as the logical guy to target.

Francisco 31, is still averaging more than a strikeout per inning and his walk rate is acceptable. Last year he was paid four million dollars. It is reasonable to expect that you can sign him for two years and less than fifteen million dollars total.

Although he doesn't have the track record of the other two Franciscos, he stands out as the safest pick for the money the Mets can afford. Most importantly, he is a quality closer that will not require a long term commitment.

I am not in favor that the Mets can possibly have Francisco closing out games in 2012, but I guess finances will play a major part on who will come here.

FRANK FRANCISCO'S  STATS

GPGSCGSHOIPHRERHRBBSOWLSVHLDBLSVWHIPERA
2011 Regular Season5400050.2492120718531417241.323.55
Career331000334.02861451383414536818194966211.293.72
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