The Sad Case of Nelson Figueroa

On Sunday Nelson Figueroa started for the Mets in place of Mike Pelfrey. He pitched pretty well allowing 5 hits and 3 runs in 6 innings. Many, including me, thought that the Mets would keep him on in a long relief role at least until Tim Redding was able to return. We thought wrong. On Monday Figueroa was designated for assignment in an effort to send him back down to Buffalo.

I’m not going to argue whether or not this was the right move. Maybe having another lefty in the pen (Casey Fossum) was the smarter decision. (Side note – I find it surprising that the Mets came north with just one lefty in the pen to begin with but this was probably not the right time to make that change. The Cardinals have mostly righty bats.) I gave credit to general manager Omar Minaya for being smarter than me, knowing the market and knowing what he was doing.

Word came yesterday that Figueroa cleared waivers. That means that no other team was willing to pick him up and the Mets retained his rights and sent him to Buffalo.

Overall the move makes sense from the Mets angle. Figueroa would have required a couple of days rest after pitching 6 innings on Sunday and the way the Mets starters have been going it paid to have a fresh pitcher in the bullpen. That pitcher, Fossum, has been used in the first two games against the Cardinals. These are games that Figueroa would not have been available for. So let’s forget which of these two pitchers you’d rather have on the team. This was a situational move that made perfect sense.

Anyway, it appears that Figueroa was very upset about this move. His wife supposedly made a post to the family blog saying as much. I understand his desire to stay on the club. He’s been working his behind off and pitched well enough to keep the team in the game on Sunday so he feels he deserved to stay on the team. He’s not wrong for feeling that way.

Apparently Figueroa is so upset that he’s making the questionable move of turning down the minor league assignment and opting for free agency. If this is the case I wish him the best of luck. He’s a good pitcher who will find another job. He just needs to realize that this move was not personal. It was made to have another arm available in the bullpen immediately instead of having to wait a few days for that arm to get ready to go. The team will always do what it feels is best for the team. At some point during the season he’d have another chance with the Mets. The timing just isn’t right now. And if he opts for free agency the timing will probably never be right for him and the Mets again.

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Business is business this is true. And im not sure figgy was upset with the technicalities of the move. But when all they are offering is AAA with a spot start here and there because they have invested 2.5m in a long man and 36mil in a starter who they hope goes 5, why not see if anyone else has a need for your services. All he did was pitch when given the opportunity and give his all. He didnt cave in, he battled. He was one of the only ones who did anything down the stretch in Sept. and how was that rewarded? He was designated then to take his roster spot away. Now he goes to camp and pitches very well all the way up until the final week including the WBC. And he is demoted to AAA with a week left in camp? Better options? maybe but can any one pitcher Start/Relieve then a day later finish out a game or two that are not save situations. He was more than a radar gun reading he was one of us. He was someone from NY playing for NY and living the dream of every New Yorker. For those that want to hate and say he was never that good anyway. How can you not be good if you’ve been pitching professional baseball for 14yrs? whether its big leagues or minor leagues its about right place and right time. Its about opportunity and making the most of it. The dream was to be a NEW YORK MET not a BUFFALO BISON…. He has a good heart and deserves better… Good luck figgy wherever you end up

Very well put. I wish him the best as well. He deserved better than how this went down. It’s very unfortunate for both sides.

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