Four pitchers file for free agency
Bradford, Hernandez, Iriki, Mota to test the waters
NEW YORK -- The number of Mets who have filed for free agency increased to 11 on Monday, when four pitchers -- Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez, Yusaku Iriki and Guillermo Mota -- availed themselves of the process. The Mets were four of 39 players who exercised their rights on the third day of the filing period.
Of the 11 Mets, only Bradford, Mota and Orlando Hernandez, who filed on Saturday, are certain to be pursued by the club.
Bradford and Mota played vital roles in the Mets' bullpen, Bradford -- who signed as a free agent in December -- throughout the season and Mota after he was obtained from the Indians on Aug. 20 in a waiver transaction that involved money and a player not identified at the time.
Bradford began the season as something of a specialist against right-handed hitters because of his unorthodox submarine delivery, but his role increased as the season evolved. He made one cameo appearance in the Mets' three-game sweep of the Dodgers in the National League Division Series but pitched in five of the seven National League Championship Series games, working more innings than any reliever other than Darren Oliver, who pitched six innings in long relief in Game 3. Bradford allowed four hits and a walk and hit one batter in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
At times during the postseason, Mota appeared to displace Aaron Heilman in the Mets' late-inning sequence of relievers. His changeup seemed more effective than Heilman's on some occasions, possibly because the difference between his fastball and change was greater -- and therefore more disarming -- than the difference between Heilman's two pitches.
But it was Mota's decision not to throw his changeup -- he threw a fastball instead -- to Scott Spiezio of the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLCS that undermined the Mets in the series. The Mets had scored in the fifth and sixth innings to hold a 6-4 lead in the seventh frame of a game started by Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals' primary starter. A victory would have given the Mets a two-to-none advantage in the best-of-seven series and offset whatever advantage the Cardinals thought they had with Carpenter starting.
Mota replaced Bradford at the start of the inning and retired the first two batters before Albert Pujols singled and Jim Edmonds walked. Spiezio, a notorious fastball hitter, missed the first two pitches from Mota -- both changeups -- and then crushed a fastball foul into the right-field stands.
Catcher Paul Lo Duca signaled for another changeup.
"I wanted a change, he wanted a fastball," Lo Duca said. "I went with the pitcher."
And Spiezio crushed a two-run triple to right, a ball that nearly cleared the fence and was nearly caught by Shawn Green.
Mota allowed no other runs in 3 2/3 innings in four other NLCS appearances.
Surgery for Delgado: Carlos Delgado underwent surgery in Manhattan on Monday to repair what was termed "tennis elbow" in his left arm. The first baseman underwent surgery on his right wrist last week and is expected to be fully healed by the start of Spring Training.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.