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.
About the Author
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.