With a 2.09 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 56.0 innings of work, we all know the excellent season that Jeff Walters was experiencing for the Binghamton Mets. After 38 saves in the regular season, he shattered the career and single-season records for Double-A Binghamton and tossed his name in the mix as a future bullpen arm with the Mets. All things considered, I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that the names Jack Leathersich, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Walters himself will be drilled into your head as the Mets will likely put together a new-look bullpen for 2014.
Their mistake this season, however, was not allowing Walters to join the MLB team after Triple-A Las Vegas finished their season. Walters spent some time with the 51s after the B-Mets were eliminated from the playoffs, and I expected the next logical step would be to add him to the MLB roster. Instead, I saw Frank Francisco get re-activated from injury — the 60-day DL — and added to the roster. I thought this was a bonehead move considering Walters needs to be added to the 40-man in the off-season to be protected from the Rule V draft.
Outside of that, what argument can be made against calling up Walters? Even if you contest that he’s pitched a lot of innings and needs the rest, don’t you think he would benefit by being around an MLB clubhouse for two weeks with the opportunity to talk to veteran pitchers? Jason Isringhausen was an excellent teacher to some of our young pitchers — Bobby Parnell comes to immediately — and there are certainly crafty veterans like LaTroy Hawkins or Scott Atchison around to offer some wisdom.
I am also completely comfortable with the skip from Binghamton to the MLB team when it comes to Walters, especially since he’d be pitching in what are no doubt meaningless games at this point. The only possible thing I can think of is that the Mets didn’t want to pay Walters an MLB-level salary for two weeks when they could just try to get their money’s worth from Frank Francisco…which doesn’t send the right message.
Well, in any case, I hope Jeff is enjoying his time off — and I look forward to seeing him compete for a spot in next year’s ‘pen.