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.