Time To Get Real About Nelson Figueroa

Now that we’ve come down from the dream story that Nelson Figueroa was last night it’s time to get real about his roster spot. I’ve read and heard so much from the media and blogs about the “Hometown boy makes good” story. SNY went on ad nauseam about the tale.

If you read this blog regulary, you saw that I wrote that Figueroa pitched a wonderful game last night. I really like his stuff and composure on the mound. He’s obviously got terrific family and friends pulling for him (as were all Mets fans). I loved what I saw from him last night.

That being said, Figueroa’s spot on the roster is going to call for some decisions in the future. Part of his value is that he’s only working on a one-year minor league contract. That gives the Mets flexibility to move him up and down from the minors. There aren’t too many players on the roster with that flexibility.

When, and if, Pedro Martinez, Duaner Sanchez, and Orlando Hernandez come back to the team there will have to be some roster moves to make room. I would guess that Carlos Muniz would be the first player to go down to the minors when Sanchez comes back as early as Tuesday.

Martinez and Hernandez may not be back for quite some time. When they do come back, Figueroa’s roster spot will become much more precarious. The Mets management will be forced to make a decision between keeping Mike Pelfrey and Figueroa on the major league roster. Take a look at the Mets active roster here. Who do you think should leave when Martinez comes back?

It would seem that Figueroa and Pelfrey will be competing for the one open roster spot when Martinez returns. I like that Pelfrey has someone with some talent that’s pushing him to focus and throw strikes. Frankly, I like Figueroa for the swing man role better than Jorge Sosa but that’s not going to happen. Sosa’s got a one-year $2 million major league contract so he’s not going anywhere barring a performance disaster on his part.

The only flexibility outside of the pitchers on the roster is with Brady Clark. He’s also working on a one-year minor league contract but will most likely be sent down when Moises Alou comes back. If Alou has a setback returning from his hernia surgery, that could give the Mets some flexibility to keep Figueroa and Pelfrey when Martinez returns. But I doubt that the Mets would keep 13 pitchers.

The conclusion is that I like what I saw last night and believe that Figueroa can give Pelfrey a serious threat of being sent back to the minors if he doesn’t consistently pitch well.  Even though Pelfrey is one of the Mets top prospects, the Mets need to win games now and Figueroa might be a better option for this season.

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8 thoughts on “Time To Get Real About Nelson Figueroa

  1. minorknowledge

    You are mistaken about Figueroa's ability to move up and down from the minors. He is now on a big league contract (it was purchased on april 1) and now must clear waivers to be sent down to AAA. This means all MLB teams can pick him up to put him on their big league roster before he can be placed in AAA. Then he has the right to either accept assignment or become a minor league free agent. Pelfrey has options left in his contract which allow him to be moved back and forth between the big leagues and minors without any chance of losing him. Just wanted to clarify that for you.

  2. Dave Doyle

    That'll reduce Figueroa's value severely if Pelfrey pitches well over the next month or so. When Pedro gets back how do you think things will play out for that spot on the roster?

    1. minorknowledge

      In my opinion it give Figueroa more value as Willie has said he likes Figueroa's versatility (spot, long relief, one inning) and if the Mets want to keep him they won't want to place him on waivers and lose him to other teams without much depth in the minor leagues. That's just my thought.

      1. Dave Doyle

        I agree with your points and Willie's assessment of Figueroa. However, it's going to be a numbers game when Matt Wise comes back from the disabled list and Pedro's ready to pitch again. I'm sure that the Tigers are waiting for the Mets to have to put a pitcher on waivers. They need some pitching help badly. It wouldn't surprise me to see Figueroa finish the season in Detroit just because he didn't fit into the 12 man pitching staff with the Mets. If El Duque ever comes back it'll be even more difficult to stay on the roster but I have a feeling the he may never come back from the foot problems that he's been having.

  3. minorknowledge

    You are mistaken about Figueroa's ability to move up and down from the minors. He is now on a big league contract (it was purchased on april 1) and now must clear waivers to be sent down to AAA. This means all MLB teams can pick him up to put him on their big league roster before he can be placed in AAA. Then he has the right to either accept assignment or become a minor league free agent. Pelfrey has options left in his contract which allow him to be moved back and forth between the big leagues and minors without any chance of losing him. Just wanted to clarify that for you.

  4. Dave Doyle

    That'll reduce Figueroa's value severely if Pelfrey pitches well over the next month or so. When Pedro gets back how do you think things will play out for that spot on the roster?

  5. minorknowledge

    In my opinion it give Figueroa more value as Willie has said he likes Figueroa's versatility (spot, long relief, one inning) and if the Mets want to keep him they won't want to place him on waivers and lose him to other teams without much depth in the minor leagues. That's just my thought.

  6. Dave Doyle

    I agree with your points and Willie's assessment of Figueroa. However, it's going to be a numbers game when Matt Wise comes back from the disabled list and Pedro's ready to pitch again. I'm sure that the Tigers are waiting for the Mets to have to put a pitcher on waivers. They need some pitching help badly. It wouldn't surprise me to see Figueroa finish the season in Detroit just because he didn't fit into the 12 man pitching staff with the Mets. If El Duque ever comes back it'll be even more difficult to stay on the roster but I have a feeling the he may never come back from the foot problems that he's been having.

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