Mets Sign Aaron Laffey

Lefthanded pitcher Aaron Laffey has accepted a minor-league contract and invite to spring training from the New York Mets.

(BTW, I resisted the temptation to use the title “Mets Add a Laugher.”)

This looks to me like a nice, logical signing. Laffey is a lefthanded pitcher who can start or relieve, will turn 28 soon after Opening Day, and has six years of MLB experience — all in the Adulterated League. He split 2012 between the PCL Las Vegas — where he posted a 4.52 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 11 starts and 63 IP — and the Toronto Blue Jays, where he had a 4.56 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 22 games (16 starts) covering 100 IP. Those numbers may not seem so impressive, but consider that both leagues he pitched in were decidedly “hitters’ leagues.” Considering that, there’s a good possibility his numbers improve pitching in a real baseball league, where the pitchers hit and there isn’t a 20+ HR-per-year batter in 6 of the 9 lineup slots. Add in the fact that he’s changing leagues, and therefore will have the benefit of mystery; it doesn’t work all the time, but it seems to help many pitchers during their first tour through the NL.

Where Laffey fits in on the Mets’ pitching staff is to be determined. Certainly, he’ll compete for the #5 spot in the rotation. At worst, he’ll end up starting the season back in Las Vegas’ rotation, providing depth in AAA. (I have to wonder how much his signing had to do with experience pitching in Las Vegas’ launching pad?) If he isn’t in a rotation on the Right or Left Coast, he might be a long man for the Mets. I don’t see him as a LOOGY, since it would seem a waste for someone who has shown a modicum of adequacy pitching multiple innings. My personal thought is he’ll eventually wind up as a LOOGY at some point in his future, but it makes sense to give him more extended opportunities before going that route.

In other left-handed pitcher news, the busy Cubs have given Hisanori Takahashi a minor-league deal and invitation to spring training. Remember him? After a decent 2010 “rookie” season with the Mets, Takahashi moved on to the Angels and had a similarly decent 2011. In 2012, though, he was horrible. Interestingly, the little lefty has never lost his penchant for swings and misses; he struck out 52 batters in 50 innings last year — though his ERA was a plump 5.54. His WHIP, though, was only 1.25, so maybe this is a good, calculated risk by the Cubs.

That’s all for the moment. Remember, a watched pot on the Hot Stove never boils.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. 86mets December 28, 2012 at 8:33 am
    I like this signing. It’s not the type of signing that most fans are hoping for, but he is a solid, though unspectacular, performer. He can start or relieve which could make him very valuable. His career splits between the two roles are almost identical and he is a little better vs. LHB which will help him as a reliever. Plus, he still only 27 years old so there is a chance that he might still show some improvement. Again, not the RH bat they need in the OF, or catching depth they so desperately need, but this is a very astute signing. I also liked the acquisition of Colin Cowgill a week ago, another potentially solid move adding a versatile OF who is still quite young.
    • Izzy December 28, 2012 at 8:53 am
      Of course he can start or releive. That’s what fringe players do. They do anything to try to stick. Signing him is not the problem. The problem is that while most teams sign guys like this hoping they don’t need him unless they are decimated by injuries when Aldderson signs the fringe guy he’s got a spot on the roster almost for sure, and its just another finge player, also known as AAAA who is a mainstay of the team and is over rated by fans hoping against hope that the team wins more than 50 games.
      • NormE December 28, 2012 at 9:14 am
        Izzy, as I once before (12/25) mentioned, you may be too generous!
  2. DaveSchneck December 28, 2012 at 11:15 am
    Joe,
    Nice, logical signings are a good thing. So are minor league invites for players that can do it in the majors. I agree with your take on Laffey’s numbers. I would not call him an AAAA player but we’ll get a closer look. Call me crazy, but unlike Izzy and NormE I expect Alderson to make some more moves and spend a little – for a 10 – 12 win SP5 and and OF, maybe even a strikeout arm in the pen. He still has $15 – $20 mil in the bank, don’t let them fool you.
    • Joe Janish December 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm
      I will be surprised if the Mets spend as much as $20M on their 2013 roster between now and spring training.

      There are few 10-12-win free-agent starting pitchers left. Joe Saunders, Shawn Marcum, and Carl Pavano are the only ones I see.

      • Dan B December 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm
        i’d be surprised if the Mets spend $10 million between now and opening day. I also would be surprised if the 2014 opening day roster payroll is higher then the 2013 opening day roster. But then again, it doesn’t matter what we predict, it only matters what it is and how many wins it translates to.
    • Izzy December 29, 2012 at 8:43 am
      Hi Dave. Do you think when he spends a little he will be as awesomely successful as he was last year when he brought in that HOF closer!!!!
      • DaveSchneck December 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm
        Izzy,
        We shall see. FF had a bad 2012 but as we have seen many times with relievers, theya re very up and down year to year. I would like to see the Mets find a 9th inning guy that can slide FF into the 8th, but SP5 and a CF/leadoff hitter are more important for our wonderful GM to spend some of that $20 million on,
  3. Tommy2cat December 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm
    Hmmm.

    I’ve always liked Takahashi and never understood why Alderson wouldn’t give him a 3 year deal worth less than one year of Oliver Perez. He was able to fill multiple roles as from the left side. Oh well…

    Laffey may be insurance if Johan can’t get past the 2nd inning, in support of the theory that a healthy Laffey is better than a broken Santana.

    When assessing Laffey’s 2012 performance, a game-by-game analysis is more impressive than his annual stat sheet. He had a lousy September, that’s for sure, but he shut down teams completely on a number of occasions. Perhaps he tired toward season’s end. Not unusual. You can’t argue with the price. :)

    It appears that Sandy is a little slow to move in Chris Young’s direction. Young proved effective as a starter, but his inability to pitch through the 5th and 6th innings placed a burden on the bullpen. He also never recorded a win at Citi Field, which is strange for an otherwise effective fly ball pitcher.

    • Joe December 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm
      Three year deal worth less than one year of Perez? Huh?

      Perez got 12M a year, right? That was insane, of course, but how has Takahashi turned out, after a multi-year deal was not provided? The Pirates eventually granted his unconditional release on October 31, 2012 once the Angels gave up on him.

      Perhaps, spending a lot of money for multi-year deals after his one year nice surprise was a good move?

      • Joe December 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm
        “not” spending
      • Joe Janish December 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm
        Actually the Angels signed Takahashi to a two-year, $8M deal. He was pretty good in 2011, not so good in 2012. For all we know he might have pitched better had he remained in the NL. Or not.

        Was that deal any more risky than the 2 years, $12M handed to Frank-Frank?

  4. Quinn December 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm
    Why is it last year the mets brought in 2 blue jay rp and now they’ve brought in another are we torontos trash recipticale?
    • Joe Janish December 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm
      Maybe there is a scout / scouts that JP Ricciardi hired over from Toronto?
  5. Dan B December 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm
    Speaking of our HOF closer, I see the Mets trying to trade him away this year. Who would close then? Parnell? TBD? Could be a long second half, especially if Santana is gone, too. I worry about too much pressure on Harvey and especially Wheeler.
    • Joe Janish December 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm
      With or without Frank Francisco, I anticipate the closer role being similar to musical chairs. But that shouldn’t affect Harvey, Wheeler, or anyone else — starting pitchers rarely go past the 6th inning these days, so I can’t imagine one feeling pressure about what happens that late in the ballgame.
      • Dan B December 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm
        Those were actually two different trains of thought. I just hope there are save opportunities! I worry that without Dickey and possibly Santana, the young pitchers will feel too much pressure to be perfect too soon. The weight of the whole franchise seems to be on their shoulders (and elbows). I prefer the Mets add another starter so that Wheeler is promoted when he is ready rather then to bail out a struggling starting rotation.
        • Joe Janish December 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm
          Oh, I understand what you mean, now.

          Agreed – ALL of the Mets’ fortunes fall squarely on the shoulders and elbows of the two phenoms, and, secondarily, d’Arnaud.

  6. argonbunnies December 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    Shouldn’t we be able to pluck an average reliever who isn’t afraid to close from the free agent bin rather easily?

    Soriano, Valverde, Capps, Wilson and K-Rod are all out there, and they won’t all be getting the big bucks (though I don’t think we can consider K-Rod, and Soriano will be too pricey). Wilson on a 1-year rebuild-your-value deal would be a huge boon for the NY media…

    • Joe Janish December 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm
      I’d gamble on Wilson, but he might be looking for more money than the Mets want to spend.

      Capps has shoulder issues, otherwise I might like him.

      Valverde seems like another version of Frank-Frank, though his ceiling is much higher; that said, he also may be too pricey for the Mets’ shallow pockets.

      No way Soriano is a Met, mainly because of his price but also because he’ll cost a #1 pick.

      Based on what we’ve seen Sandy Alderson do in the past, my bet is he rolls the dice on Capps. Wilson, to me, is the better bet, but I really believe he’s out of the Mets’ budget. He can probably get someone to give him a 1-year, $5M-$7M deal, and I don’t see the Mets doing that.