With the news that Pedro Feliciano has declined arbitration comes the slow realization that our dearly beloved rubber-armed lefty is likely headed for a big payday elsewhere, never to return. Feliciano stands out as one of the successes of the Minaya era, being plucked from Japan to fill a bullpen void (it’s worth noting, however, that originally he was to play second fiddle to Omar’s original choice of lefty-specialist, our favorite Aaron Heilman) and filling it marvelously. However it has to be said that while it seems silly to ask more of Feliciano than to get our lefties reliably and consistently, the Mets organization reliably and consistently attempted to bump him into the set-up role with unfortunate consequences (admittedly at Pedro’s behest). Therefore I can’t help but say that while the idea of Feliciano in pinstripes (or even worse, Phillies red) is rather disheartening, I can’t help but revel in the idea that he will soon be tantalizing another fan-base into thinking of him as a set-up man, repeatedly crushing their dream.Either way, we are now in need of a LOOGY! While Feliciano was certainly remarkable in his durability (86, then 88, then 92, then 92 appearances the last four seem to be a pretty common commodity. The idea of paying through the nose for one seems farcical, particularly when your purview on this site is to sift through the minor league domain. So let’s take a look at the organizational options to replace Feliciano going into Spring Training!Michael O’ConnorO’Connor should be the name on most Mets fans’ minds given that the 30-year old reliever just signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Port St. Lucie. O’Connor has had two cups of coffee at the big league level, both with the Nationals (2006 and 2008) and neither to any sort of success. Last year was his first full season of bullpen work after serving primarily as a starter, and it was a marked improvement (albeit at the AAA level). He posted a 2.67 ERA over 51 appearances, many of which stretched beyond one inning (this suggests he probably profiles more as a Darren Oliver type than a Feliciano). His peripherals from the last season are pretty solid: his 2.17 BB/9 is really terrific, particularly in a ballpark that rewards strike-throwers. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, and his 1.16 WHIP is also encouraging.It’s unlikely, however, that these numbers will translate at all to the MLB level. O’Connor relies on an 85 MPH fastball that sets up a curveball and change that both sit in the low 70s. Lefty specialists generally have a lower threshold for “stuff”, but O’Connor’s numbers suggest that he is getting by at AAA on guile that probably won’t cut it against major league bats. Nonetheless he deserves to be in the mix in Spring Training, and if he truly embraces the specialist role he could very well earn a big league spot.Pat MischPat Misch will certainly be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring, depending on the volume and quality of Sandy’s free agent acquisitions, but for Misch to finally stick at the MLB level he will probably need to accept a bullpen transfer. Misch has shown flashes of brilliance as a starter, and frankly probably hasn’t gotten the fairest shake from the Mets, but remains a very useful asset. Misch mixes four pitches, but would probably be better served in the ‘pen by honing his breaking ball to work off of his cutter.His splits against lefties are not favorable, unfortunately (although they are mostly cursed by small sample size); they batted .316 off of him in 2010, with considerable pop. He has control but doesn’t strike a ton of lefties out, with a K/9 rate of4.70. The LOOGY role just feels awkward for him; his motion doesn’t drop down that low, and he can get righties out, so why waste him on 1 or 2 batter outings? I definitely see a bullpen role for him, but more in Takahashi-role than Feliciano. He’s definitely a guy Mets fans can pull for.Michael AntoniniAntonini is the first genuine prospect on the list, but like pretty much anybody being considered for their first time as a LOOGY his stock has fallen considerably. Once seen as the heir apparent within the organization to Jon Niese as the top starting lefty, a disastrous 2009 split between AAA and AA knocked him off the radar screen. Antonini is 25 and entering his fifth professional season, so it’s beginning to become time to consider whether moving him to a bullpen role is hampering his development or simply being realistic. In 6 AAA starts in 2010, lefties lit up Antonini at a .316 clip, driving in 8 earned runs in 15 innings. On the bright side, he didn’t walk any of them, and struck out 11 (again, small sample size, wish I could get the splits from his AA work).I hate to give up on Antonini, but he definitely doesn’t have a ton of stuff, but has plenty of command that would serve him well in a limited role. His release point is very low, so he would not take a ton of tinkering to fit into the specialist approach in that respect. He’ll probably get a look in the ‘pen in Spring Training, but I’m guessing he starts the season as a starting pitcher in Buffalo; success would be optimal, but another sluggish start and you might very well see the Mets move him into the LOOGY rule.Oh and one more reason this guy shouldn’t be starting: he bats right handed! I will never understand pitchers that stick their throwing arm out for the opposing pitcher to nail...this guy should not be in a position to bat.Oliver PerezJust to see if you were paying attention! I know Ollie’s quirky release point kind of looks like he could make a successful LOOGY, but he doesn’t throw strikes, and if he is going to reclaim any of his value he is going to have to start. Sunk costs are sunk, but the idea of a 12 million dollar situational lefty still makes me too sick to even consider.Robert CarsonThis kid has got stuff but is a WAYS away. Carson possesses a fastball that flashes low-to-mid-90s pop, but still doesn’t command his secondary pitches. An aggressive placement in Binghamton in 2010 lead to an 8.32 ERA in 7 starts. No reason to give up on his starting development, anyway.Roy MerrittMerritt won’t need any adjustments; he was the B-Mets lefty specialist for the duration of the 2010 season. He posted a 3.86 ERA on the whole, and held lefties to a.228 batting average, which is solid (ignoring the talent level). Merritt is 25 and not going to develop much more; that he was already in the bullpen role speaks volumes about how the organization views the arm. A short 4 appearance stint in Buffalo was disastrous for Merritt; look for him to get a look in Spring Training, but a short one. Merritt really profiles like an organization guy than anything else.Eric NiesenNiesen is another guy who, at 25, is beginning to re-shape his pitching role in an attempt to crack the big leagues, switching to the bullpen after struggling mightily in AA. The peripherals don’t look great for Niesen; he posted a BB/9 over 7 in 2010, which is quite simply unreal. He tried to figure the bullpen thing out in the Arizona Fall League as we speak, and will probably need more time in the minors trying to work the transition over. Niesen has a strong fastball, but no command and no real secondary pitches; simply too much of a project for the roster in 2010.Ike DavisBig lefty who hit 94 on the radar gun in college working out of the bullpen for a solid Arizona State program, somehow he's gone unnoticed in the LOOGY debate. I have no evidence to back this up, but if he needs to be stretched out for more than an inning, I would hazard a guess that he can handle the bat.-------------------So those are the guys I looked at, and overall the result is not particularly encouraging. The first 3 guys all have legitimate shots at cracking the Opening Day roster, with Pat Misch nearly a guarantee, but on the whole this is not an inspiring bunch. I’d be interested to see if there are any guys you would consider within the organization, or if there are particularly compelling RHPs that could do the job (with splits like Aaron Heilman, circa 2005-2006). Fortunately, we’re looking at a highly specific role that could be filled by any different manner of arms. This is not something you pay $4 million or give multi-year contracts for...unless your name is Omar Minaya.