COMMENTARY | As he's done in the previous two winters, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will look to retool his bullpen.
However, a strong finish in 2013 by the 'pen won't force the front office to undergo a complete overhaul. It didn't work out between the two sides last winter, but the Mets should seriously consider acquiring Brian Wilson.
The former San Francisco Giants closer found a home late this past summer with the Los Angeles Dodgers following Tommy John surgery. After a short minor league assignment, the bearded right-hander went 2-1 with a 0.66 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 13 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched (18 appearances) for Los Angeles in the regular season.
Wilson arrived with 171 career saves under his belt over a seven-year MLB career. Manager Don Mattingly already had Kenley Jansen closing games for the eventual NL West division champions. That left Wilson as solely a late-game reliever -- a role in which he has flourished.
There has been some progress in Flushing with regard to bullpen arms. The acquisition of Vic Black from the Pittsburgh Pirates has bolstered the back end of the relief corps. Having a healthy Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia will also do the same.
Most of all, Bobby Parnell did an admirable job as closer this season upon getting awarded the job. Before season-ending surgery, the right-hander went 5-5 with a 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 22 saves, and 44 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched.
Early reports point to Parnell being ready for 2014 spring training after going under the knife. If he's not, Collins has stated that Black (a rookie) will assume the role for the time being.
Adding Wilson to the bullpen would provide value in multiple areas. If Parnell isn't healthy enough to start 2014 on the active roster, he could be inserted into that role in the interim. For a team that will be expected to compete, having a pitcher with more than 18 big league appearances and one save to his credit (like Black does) would be nice.
Brian Wilson would be the token veteran in the bullpen, bringing recent playoff experience with him. Not only was he the closer for the 2010 World Series champion Giants, but he's also currently in the postseason with Los Angeles
LaTroy Hawkins took on this role in 2013, doing a great job. He performed well on the mound, along with being a positive influence in the clubhouse. However, he'll be 41 by the time the 2014 season gets underway. I wouldn't expect a 2.93 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from him next season, especially when he hadn't appeared in that many games (72) since 2004 with the Chicago Cubs (77 appearances).
Bringing on a pitcher like Wilson would be a younger option for the Mets (entering his age-32 season in '14), but possibly cheaper, as well. Hawkins has stated he wants to return to Flushing, but his recent performance could alter his price. With only 18 regular-season appearances and a handful in October, Wilson will still be looking to build his value.
There was mutual interest between the right-hander and Alderson to work out a deal last winter, but his velocity wasn't worth a guaranteed deal at the time. His fastball velocity has been clocked around 93 miles per hour, near his pre-surgery speed.
Wilson would be a great fit in New York because of his personality. He was intrigued at the chance of playing in a big market like New York City. His eccentric personality would make for interesting interviews with the media, as well as keeping the mood in the clubhouse light -- a tough thing to do during a long season.
He'd bring the confidence and swagger needed to succeed in any role he's given, whether he's the fill-in closer or regular setup man. With plenty of young arms occupying spots in the bullpen, they could learn a lot from Wilson over the course of a season.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as the Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.
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