According to Newsday, Omar Minaya is poised to make his first offers to free agent closers Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes this week. While they need a closer, if the Mets aren't careful their overhaul could amount to putting a new roof on a house with a rotten foundation.
Sure, it'll keep the rain out but, eventually, the underlying problem is going to be the end of it all. Same thing with the Met bullpen. Rodriguez set the save record this season because he's a good pitcher, yes, but also because the rest of the Angel relievers delivered him lead after lead. The Mets may have gone into a tailspin after Billy Wagner got hurt last season, but they were blowing leads earlier than the ninth inning even before he went down.
It's a tough situation to remedy. The answer isn't to go out and spend money on set-up men. The Yankees tried that for years and got nothing but acid reflux from watching the likes of Kyle Farnsworth. The best bullpens in baseball are rarely composed of guys with long-term deals or glittering resumes. Look at the Phillies and Rays, for example. They were both collections of journeymen veterans, failed starters and youngsters, but they meshed well and got the job done.
A lot of teams have similar collections without getting similar results, though. What both those teams did, however, was stock their pens with guys who throw hard. The Mets haven't gone that route. Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoenweis and the rest of the corps were more reliant on contact than strikeouts. That's a recipe that hasn't worked for two straight seasons and isn't likely to work in 2009 either. Wherever they find them, the Mets have to remedy this problem as well as the hole at closer. Otherwise, to borrow a phrase from our President-elect, they'll just be putting lipstick on a pig.