a) Considering Rauch has “experience” at CL and Ramirez doesn’t, I wouldn’t entirely write him off, even if he’s really about the 5th best pitcher in the bullpen now (FrankFrank, Ramirez, Parnell, Acosta were all quite a bit better last year). Technically Parnell does too, but I’m not sure that left a very positive taste in Terry Collins’ mouth anyway.
b) Ramirez has really only had one outstanding year, though it was last year. Otherwise his strikeout rate has been pedestrian and he may have benefited from AT&T parks HR/FB depressing ways.
c) Parnell probably has the most room for growth and more strikeout upside than anyone but Francisco. I wouldn’t entirely lump him in with Rauch if Ramirez is in fact second in line. He got some mileage out of his slider for the first time last year and command was really his only bugaboo, so perhaps there’s still some improvement to be had here.
c) Despite the lack of a mention, the guy I’d want to own after Francisco might be Manny Acosta. His FIP wasn’t as good as the other guys because he’s so FB and thus HR prone, but he has improved his command and if we’re to believe SIERA theory he’s basically in the same class as Ramirez (vis-a-vis 2011) and Parnell (but not Rauch). He’s had SIERAs of 3.21 and 3.15 in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and those marks are closer to the ERAs he produced over that period than his FIP/xFIP. His ERA was a touch higher than his SIERA in 2011 (but still lower than his FIP/xFIP), but that’s also despite a .326 BABIP, considerably higher than his .291 career mark (and contrary to what SIERA theory would predict for a high-K, flyball pitcher). He was also the closer last year after Bobby Parnell lost the gig and fared reasonably well, so he probably has some manager’s confidence.
Basically, it looks to me as if Francisco has a leg up on the rest, and then the trio of Ramirez, Parnell, and Acosta all project similarly enough, and Rauch is then behind them. But considering Rauch also has the second most closer experience, predicting second banana here is a bit of a nightmare. Ramirez probably has the most bottom out potential of the three second-bananas if his K% drops and his HR/FB increases, while Parnell has the most upside, and Acosta is probably the safest and in the best standing with Terry Collins.
Rauch is maybe getting a tic under-rated. He had a problem with his right knee last season, which hurt his ability to push off, which was hopefully corrected with minor off-season surgery. I believe he also had the left knee done after the 2010 season, so there obviously is some risk there in those 33-year old knees.
But when healthy, Rauch is a little better pitcher than he is being given credit for. Rauch has one of the highest career IFF% of active pitchers in baseball right now. That means he’s going to be undervalued by FIP, WAR, or SO/BB rates. For the 5 years prior to last season, he averaged a 121 ERA+, which would have translated to about a 3.15 ERA on last year’s Mets. He also has gotten somewhat effective in recent years at closing games, converting 74% of save opportunities since 2008.
Not that he should really be a closer, but for a low cost gamble, he looks like a decent 7th/8th inning arm if healthy. And not a bad guy to help groom Parnell, Ramirez, and Accosta for more significant roles in the future.
Comment by acerimusdux — January 27, 2012 @ 12:54 pm