Frank Franc or Bust?

“We want Rauch! We want Rauch!”

Frank Francisco stepped to the pitcher’s mound in the top of the ninth inning only to be bombarded by boos and even demands that Terry Collins replace him with Jon Rauch. But Terry has said that he is sticking with Francisco as his closer.

“He wanted to be in there bad tonight,” Collins said after the game, “I thought I should give him that opportunity.”

While Francisco did go on to record his ninth save of the season, he was not able to preserve Miguel Batista’s shut out as he gave up a run, two hits, and a walk in his outing last night. Francisco’s numbers haven’t helped his case either: 14 ER in 14.2 innings pitched and that 8.59 ERA don’t look pretty compared to closers throughout the league. But then again, 14 closers have lost their jobs this season due to ineffectiveness.

Francisco is just the latest in a lineup of Mets closers that have made fans squirm in their seats during the ninth inning. Even two of the game’s greatest left-handed closers, John Franco and Billy Wagner were unable to keep fans from covering their eyes during the ninth. Do I even mention Armando Benitez, Frankie Rodriguez and the Bobby Parnell experiment of late 2011?

This offseason, Sandy Alderson’s main priority was revamping the bullpen. The offensive pieces, whether we liked it or not, were all there. The starting pitching was there. So Sandy turned to the bullpen, depleted by the trade of K-Rod, who had been doing some good work for the Mets, but not without typical Mets cringe-worthy ninth inning moments. We acquired Ramon Ramirez from the Giants, and signed Rauch and Francisco with the spending money that ownership and the Mets provided for payroll. And then they went quiet for three months. Sure, we signed a few players to minor league contracts, but we didn’t make a big splash by magically coming up with the money to re-sign Jose Reyes, or get another starter like Mark Buerhle.

We signed two closers in Francisco and Rauch, but Rauch has mainly been relegated to eighth inning work. There are other options in our bullpen, including Rauch, Parnell, Ramirez, Manny Acosta, and even Tim Byrdak. But it looks like Terry is going to continue to go to Francisco in ninth inning save situations, whether we like it or not. Here’s an iea; maybe if the Mets took a four run lead into the ninth, Frank Franc wouldn’t have to be used for the save. Just a thought. Let’s go Mets.

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