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Oh, What A Relief It Is?

I will worry about the Mets bullpen the first time a starter departs and runs are scored. Then I will stress. For now, I take comfort in the sudden stockpiling of arms [1], whether strange or familiar (and presumably temporarily un-Familia).

Jerry Blevins [2] is returning. This stands as the front office accomplishment of late winter pending resolution of that Bruce & Lagares-for-Trout rumor I just now decided to invent. Blevins as our primary post-Cespedes get means either it’s been slow time in Flushing or we didn’t have much to fret about to begin with. I’m not sure. Blevins was fairly valuable and extremely likable last season. He wasn’t the perfect portsider we got to know a little in April of 2015 before he disappeared from active duty, but that’ll happen when you give somebody more than two weeks to reveal his imperfections. Southpaws who specialize in retiring lefthanded hitters (who aren’t adorably referred to as southpaws or even portsiders, just lefthanded hitters) may be replaceable, but the good ones aren’t necessarily disposable. That’s my bet-hedging way of saying I’m glad Jerry was persuaded to stay put.

Also rejoining the cast of dozens is righty Fernando Salas [3]. He pitched some credible innings in September. Gave up a home run that lost a game in Washington, too, but it might have been nice had the Mets scored a run [4] before or after Salas got involved. He figures to reprise his Addison St. Bridge role or provide deep depth or maybe be pitching for his figurative life among so many other theoretically viable arms, including the one belonging to Hansel Robles [5], who should be ready to Step Up, if I may use a hollow phrase that nonetheless describes the current point on his career trajectory. I’d call the potential surplus a pleasant problem, but we’re not at the stage where anything is a problem yet.

Newer limbs? How about the pertinent one attached to 34-year-old Tom Gorzelanny [6], major leaguer since 2005? OK, not so new, but new to us. Also, like Blevins, a lefty, which implies longevity. Tom’s is a minor league deal. When his career was getting underway, I recall Gorzelanny being hyped alongside his fellow Pirates Zach Duke [7], Paul Maholm [8] and Ian Snell [9] within a prospective Rotation of the Future that could Core A Apple and everything. Futures are funny things in baseball. Duke grew into a lefty specialist on the order of Blevins. Maholm, who I hadn’t noticed hasn’t pitched since 2014, was the Reed Johnson [10] of his craft, targeting the Mets for fits during a period when they didn’t really require any extra tormenting. He also homered off John Maine [11] in 2009. Snell had a tough go beyond pitching [12], something he hasn’t done in the majors since 2010…the last season in which Maine pitched for the Mets despite this observer’s deep-rooted impression that John is due to come off the DL any day now. Him and Kelvim Escobar [13].

Anywho, the rotation of Pittsburgh future never fully coalesced as sunnily forecast, but we have one of its survivors heading to camp. Maybe he’ll become Tom Gorzelanny of the Mets and be recalled by us as relievers often are, as that guy who gave up that lead or, if we’re lucky, that guy who didn’t. Tom figures to be competing with Josh Smoker [14], Josh Edgin [15] and perhaps Josh Lyman [16] among those capable of bringing it from the left in St. Lucie. Also, Adam Wilk [17], a southporting pawsider with mostly minors mileage, signed a no-risk deal in January [18]. If he breaks through in the pen, I’m calling dibs on headline use of “Got Wilk?”

Glamour acquisitions like Gorzellany, Wilk and those two righties with interesting deliveries [19] aside, we mostly have Mets we know intimately. Certainly cuts down on the awkward introductions. What it says about our chances I’m not sure. If everybody who ached or pained in 2016 promises to be suitably healed, then keeping the gang together should inspire confidence in management’s loyalty-based/laissez-faire approach. If somehow not enough recovering Mets pick up where they left off when they were at or close to their most recent peaks…well, we can always find things to stress about later.

Keith Blacknick, a.k.a. Media Goon, has been kind enough to post video of the Tom Seaver [20] session I moderated at Queens Baseball Convention. If you’d like to watch, I invite you to tune in here [21].