Parnell has primarily been known for his 100 mile-per-hour fastball and was looked at by others as possibly the closer of the future. However, with the UCL surgery, combined with the neck surgery he had gotten during the 2013 offseason, I am worried about his health. The $3.7 million, in particular, has me piqued regarding his role in the bullpen.
However, there is one man that I personally believe that has EARNED his right in the Mets ‘pen in 2015 and has only a minor league contract attached to his name. This man had a fantastic second half of 2014 and truly earned the right to be in the Mets plans for this upcoming season. Maybe it’s because I love journeyman pitchers in baseball, but I think that this cat had a great year last year and proved his worth. His name: BUDDY CARLYLE.
Buddy came onto the Mets via a minor league contract prior to the 2014 season. Prior to signing, Carlyle was with the Cincinnati Reds, the San Diego Padres, the Kansas City Royals, two stints with the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Florida Marlins, two stints on the Atlanta Braves, the Toronto Blue Jays, and both the Hanshin Tigers AND the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan. Like I said, Buddy was quite the journeyman pitcher. I love and have total respect for those types of pitchers. Being a journeyman is truly a lost art, especially in the world of sports. It is not as appreciated as it once was, at least in my mind.
On May 31, Carlyle was called up during the series against Philadelphia. In the midst of a rare 5 game series versus the Phillies, Carlyle was called up to bring relief to the bullpen. Carlyle’s day started in El Paso, TX, where he pitched the night before for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51’s. Manager Wally Backman gave him the notice to fly out the next morning. After two layover flights, Carlyle arrived during THE GAME, and thankfully, due to the Mets overworking their bullpen in the first game of the series, Carlyle came in during the bottom of the 11th and pitched 3 INNINGS of scoreless relief to gain his first win since 2008 with the Braves.
I remember listening to the game on 710 WOR and smiling on how much Howie Rose was glowing over Buddy’s fortitude for the insane travel he went through to make it AND win. I knew right there that Buddy had a good shot of retaining his spot with the roster for the foreseeable future. (Thanks to ESPN for this column helping me out with the day of the game: http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=340531122)
In 27 games for the Mets, Carlyle went 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings of work. He gave up 23 hits, only allowed 5 walks, and had 28 strikeouts during his time on the Mets. Knowing what had happened with Parnell, as well as injuries to Gonzales Germen, Vic Black, Dice-K, and Scott Rice, Buddy played a fantastic 2nd half out of the bullpen for the club. I vividly remember being at the game before the All-Star Break, and Carlyle closed out a 9-1 Mets win against Miami with a 9 pitch inning. I truly felt that Buddy had something special to give the Mets in the 2nd half, and for the most part, he did.
The fact that Buddy received only a minor-league contract for 2015 for the Mets threw me for a loop. Seeing how Bobby Parnell got $3.7 million AFTER Tommy John and neck surgery made me legitimately think about the deal Buddy received. Yes, he is a journeyman, but I honestly believe that after his great job in the bullpen last year, Buddy deserves a little extra. Hopefully, Carlyle continues his great performance and EARNS his way onto the Mets Opening Day roster in 2015. I think it’s totally possible.
Yeah, Buddy! Bad pun, I know.