Report: Sandy Alderson nixed talk of Mike Pelfrey becoming Mets’ closer in 2012

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Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that manager Terry Collins recently asked Mike Pelfrey if he’d be willing to serve as the Mets’ closer next season and the 27-year-old right-hander agreed, but general manager Sandy Alderson shot down the idea before it gained much traction.

Collins declined to discuss the situation and Martino writes that a move to the bullpen “almost certainly will not happen,” but the fact that it was discussed is interesting given Pelfrey’s struggles this season.

On the surface Pelfrey has declined sharply, going from 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA last season to 6-10 with a 4.61 ERA this year, but his strikeout and walks rates remain nearly identical. The big difference has been serving up 19 homers in 154 innings after allowing a total of just 12 homers in 204 innings last season.

New York’s bullpen needs plenty of help for 2012 and beyond, but the Mets aren’t exactly overflowing with rotation depth either and Pelfrey’s complete lack of experience as a reliever means he’s no sure thing to thrive in the bullpen anyway. Moving him from a 200-inning role to a 70-inning role doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.