Mets Sign Shaun Marcum

Wow, I slack off for a few hours and a flurry of activity occurs in Flushing!

By now you probably know that the Mets have signed righthander Shaun Marcum to a one-year deal. In all honesty, I never believed the Mets would get a pitcher of Marcum’s quality. He’s not Sandy Koufax, and he’s not even R.A. Dickey, but Marcum should be able to give the Mets 25-30 starts and about 170 innings.

That is, assuming he’s healthy — which he wasn’t in 2012. Marcum has chronic elbow issues, and has always had them — he had Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of 2009. Why the elbow problems? Bad mechanics, which he hasn’t changed, which means he’ll likely have more elbow problems going forward.

But, when a team has very little money to spend, injury risks like Marcum are the only way to acquire a “high-upside” player. My guess is the Mets will also sign Chris Young as a backup plan. Between Young and Marcum, there’s a decent chance they’ll get 20-30 starts — and that should be all that’s needed to keep Zack Wheeler developing in the minors for the bulk of the season.

Post your reaction to the Marcum signing in the comments.

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. norme January 24, 2013 at 11:47 am
    A healthy Marcum should be a good fit for the Mets. I’m not sold on Mejia or Familia as solid MLB pitchers. Hefner and
    McHugh are fill-in insurance. Young has limited appeal. He doesn’t give you enough innings even when his starts are good, but if they sign him it does give Sandy flexibility in the trade market.

    Also, Hairston signed with the Cubs. With Upton rumored going to Atlanta, where does that leave Bourn?

  2. SiddFinch January 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm
    Marcum is a solid signing, and unless the wheels fall off, should give us 25 or so starts, 150+ IP, 10-12W and an ERA in the high 3′s or low 4′s. As far the OF, Bourn seems like the best option now.

    Santana
    Niese
    Harvey
    Marcum
    Gee

    It’s not a great rotation but there’s a nice mix of youth and experience. A solid rotation if everyone remains at least relatively healthy.

  3. Dan B January 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm
    Where would you put Young initially? Bullpen? Minors? Either option is hard to imagine. I agree though the Mets need more starting pitcher depth even after signing Marcum. While he is not a replacement for losing our ace and innings eater, Marcum does take pressure off of our bullpen, Harvey, and especially Wheeler. I feel like it will be a race to see if the Mets can trade Marcum before he reinjures himself and after Wheeler is ready. Now that the Mets have signed their first ML free agent this offseason, does this mean the floodgates will open? Is Josh Hamilton still available?
    • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm
      I wouldn’t worry about where to put Young. Major League teams need to stockpile 8-10 starting pitchers going into spring training, because you never know what will happen between mid-February and Opening Day.

      Young is signed as a starter. If he makes the team, he makes the team as a starter. If he doesn’t make the team, the Mets send him to AAA, or try to trade him, or release him. Unless there is another team guaranteeing Young a rotation spot, that’s what his opportunity / options will be regardless of where he signs — be it with the Mets or elsewhere.

      It would be nice to know for sure that Niese, Santana, Marcum, Gee, and Harvey will all emerge from St. Lucie intact and make 32 starts each. It rarely happens that way, however.

      • Dan B January 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm
        I would love for the Mets to sign Young and stockpile him in AAA if necessary. It is not like he would be taking away innings from an AAA pitching prospect. I just wonder, after a comeback of sorts in 2012, if Young would accept that. Young might force The Mets into thinking about a swing type pitcher. But I believe you never have enough journeyman pitcher types hanging around the 40 man roster (if the Mets could afford it).
  4. Joe January 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm
    So, for all those railing against the Mets, how did their off season go? Putting aside, since apparently this was not expected by some, they might do something else.
    • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm
      So far, pretty awful.

      They traded a Cy Young winner for a backup catcher and a few prospects, and they’ve replaced that 230-IP CY Young Award winner with a guy with a bum elbow who, in a good, healthy year, MIGHT provide 180 IP.

      To date, there is not one legit MLB outfielder on the roster.

      Ergo, still railing against the Mets!

      • DaveSchneck January 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm
        Joe,
        The offseason is pretty awful if it was to end today, but school is still out. Word is that Marcum signed a 1 year deal, and if healthy, this is a good signing and meets the statement Alderson made after trading RA of finding a 10-12 game winner. As Dan said, I see no room for Young, but if no one else gives him a big league deal they might as well invite him ala Perpetual Pedro. OF-wise, Upton going to the Braves bugs me, and without knowing all of these prospects, it looks like they didn’t pay anywhere near the price that Seattle had offered. Alderson better have some tricks up his sleeve regarding the OF and pen. Bourn and Wilson would be acceptable at this point.
        • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm
          Even if the Mets sign Bourn and Wilson — which are two big ifs — their winter effort is still pretty miserable.

          But, I’m comparing their winter to what other teams in their division did since Thanksgiving. The Mets’ winter is better than the Marlins, and maybe it’s better than the Phillies, but is nowhere near as good as what the Braves and Nats have accomplished. And when you add in that the Mets lost 88 games last year, well, what they’ve done is just not good enough.

          Remember when Sandy Alderson promised sweeping changes? I’m seeing more or less the same club as the 88-loss 2012 squad, except a little worse — even with Bourn and Wilson.

      • Joe January 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm
        Wright? Bay? Who?

        “A few prospects.” Let’s just ignore who they are. Was Dickey some guarantee when he was signed? But, Aranud? Chopped liver. Keep Thole, whine, get a top catching prospect. Yawn.

        If we are going to get all negative on Marcum (toss in Laffey and others to get some of those innings), why not think Dickey, going on 40, had a fluke year? Might get hurt. Might go 12-8 or something. What exactly you were going to get for him more than this is unclear.

        I don’t know what a “legit MLB outfielder” is. I guess 4th outfielders aren’t really outfielders. I think if Baxter, Duda, Cowgill etc. aren’t it, there are many teams who don’t have any. Other than Hairston, did they have any last season? Torres?

        I agree that not getting a OF was a problem but you don’t even think tossing in Bourne is much at all. Still horrible. I don’t know what was expected. I don’t remember him saying 2013 was going to be some major change from 2012. 2012/13 were likely transition years. Knew it last winter, knew it this time.

        You want some major overpriced closer when we know the Mets have a long shot chance in ’13? Some other starting pitcher? Rotation is far from lousy. Another reliever? Be nice, but that’s a big crapshoot anyhow. Feliciano or the others might give you big years.

        Use the money saved from Santana and Bay and add on to the starters, catcher (Arnaud ready sometime this year), etc. you have, you can have a pretty good team in ’14.

        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm
          Joe, I’m sorry you don’t know what a legit MLB outfielder is. That’s probably a large reason why you and I have incredible differences of opinion. Because all of the Mets OFs you mention in your comment, including Torres, are AAAA players. Please name one other MLB team that is projecting their entire outfield — starters and reserves — to be all AAAA players or minor leaguers.

          R.A. Dickey was not a fluke, unless flukes last three years. And if he were to go “only” 12-8 as a Met in 2013, that is likely still good enough to be better than 3 or 4 other Mets starters. Maybe I didn’t want to get ANYTHING for him, because I wanted him to stay put.

          Also, not understanding how you compare the FA signing of Dickey to the trade of him for d’Arnaud. Dickey didn’t cost the Mets anything but a minor-league, non-guaranteed contract when they signed him. d’Arnaud cost the Mets their best pitcher and a Cy Young Award winner.

          Marcum has a long history of elbow issues, and he has a very recent history of elbow issues, and considering those facts, I think I’m being incredibly positive, not negative.

          As for Alderson’s promise to overhaul the team, he stated as much to Mike Francesa, documented here: http://metsblog.com/metsblog/alderson-on-wfan-we-need-an-infusion-of-players-productive-players/. But, I can’t blame you for avoiding Francesa and sports talk radio. And maybe his version of “an infusion of talented players” did not include the 25-man roster. If so, I wasn’t the only person who misunderstood his doublespeak.

          When the “money saved” from Bay and Santana is actually SPENT, I’ll get behind your argument for 2014. But I’ll believe it when I see it. Do you realize that this “payroll flexibility” poppycock has been in place since 2010? Do you know how many Mets fans have died since then, waiting for that magical year when the Mets finally have payroll flexibility?

    • Dan B January 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm
      If the goal was to lower payroll, defer payments for a couple years, cut costs in the farm system, and take the savings and use it to pay down debt and rebuild the Wilpon’s finance, then yes it was a good offseason. If the goal was to improve the team for 2013, then so far it has been horribly bad. If the goal for this offseason was to set the team up for 2014 and 2015, then I still don’t see much improvement. The Mets added exactly one player who projects past 2013 and he has not proved himself in the majors while losing the best pitcher in the National League. And I don’t want to hear that the Mets are stockpiling prospects. The farm system ranks below average in the reviews I have read. We are not trading prospects because the Mets can’t afford financially to bring in real major leaguers and the Mets only have one legitimate MLB ready player (two if you think highly on Flores).
      • Dan B January 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm
        (oops, make that three. I was projecting d’Arnaud into the starting lineup already)
      • Joe January 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm
        “to improve the team for 2013″

        I don’t think that was the idea. Cutting costs, getting rid of Bay and saving a bit of money in the process of adding by subtraction etc. can very well help the team long term.

        Arnaud will help the team. Catcher is a major hole. The pitcher they got also has promise. If you don’t want to hear it, fine, but prospects is a major way you get MLB ready players. And, again, the issue there is more ’14 on than ’13, and the cutting costs etc. helps long term there.

        You can’t move forward w/o dealing with the past. The ownership people rail about here dug a deep hole. This will take a lot to get under from. Real action has been done in this regard. The team has starters. Other than 2B, which is still credible, they have an IF. They have some arms in the pen. Santana/Bay will come off the books and you very well might get something for S. this summer. They have a very promising catcher almost ready. They got a key part to fill their pitcher needs short term. Paying money for a closer now would be dumb.

        It is far from great w/o an OF or another bat, but long term, the Mets actually are going in the right direction.

        • Dan B January 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm
          Sorry, but you still don’t have me convinced. The Mets are not rebuilding — they are demolishing. Rebuilding implies they are implementing a plan for the future. They have shed close to $60 million per year off their payroll and all we have to show for it is Marcum and Francisco? Why would getting rid of Bay’s and Santana’s contract help restock the team if the team does not reinvest the money? You rather invest in the farm system? Okay but where have the Mets spent money on the farm system? In 2011, the Mets drafted 50 players, 14 went unsigned. In 2012, Mets drafted 42 players, 23 went unsigned including a second round pitcher. I read too many stories this winter about small cuts to the minor league spending. The Mets ignored AAA so much that they can’t get a team to affliate with them. Playing in Las Vegas is the equilivant of losing musical chairs. I laugh when people worry about signing Bourn because it will effect slot money. The Mets left slot money on the table last year! If they don’t spend it, it won’t matter.

          Yes, I agree that the Beltran and the Dickey trades were good trades. But the Mets also traded away their best position player and their best pitcher and they have yet to replace them. How many players did the Mets let walk away without gettting something back? Reyes, Capuano, Hairston, Izzy, Feliciano, Young? How many trades have they made where they choose salary relief over prospects?

          In this offseason, the Mets aquired two players who project past 2013 and both are minor leaguers and one won’t be MLB ready for several years. This is rebuilding?

        • norme January 26, 2013 at 12:30 am
          Hey Dan B,
          I have a question.
          I found your statement about the failure to sign draft choices very interesting. To better understand this data we have to put in perspective with other clubs. Do you know if this failure is similar to what other clubs do–better?—worse?
          Furthermore, if a club systematically drafts and fails to sign a good number of these draftees, might they not be guilty of restraint of trade or some sort of willful restriction of a person’s right to earn a living? Just asking.
        • Dan B January 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm
          Norme,
          Thanks for the homework assignment. I only did the National East for the past two years since I do want to stay married. It was bad news for people who think the Mets are serious about rebuilding. For the past two years, the Atlanta Braves signed 72% of their draft picks. Nationals — 62%, Phillies – 58%, Marlins – 66%, and the Mets – 48%. It gets worse when you realize most teams don’t sign many of players from the last 25 rounds. If you look at just the first 25 rounds, where you are more likely to find your true prospects (and spend the most money), the Braves sign 96% of their draft picks, Nationals – 82%, Phillies – 85%, Marlins – 84% and the rebuilding New York Mets signed 74% of the players they picked in the first 25 rounds. To put it another way, the Braves signed eleven more draft picks and nine more top draft picks in the past two years then the Mets. You wonder why they always seem to have rookie of the year candidates and the Mets have Mike Baxter starting in the outfield? My conclusion – the Mets are no more serious about rebuilding then they are about signing free agents. They are most interested in lower costs to help pay off their massive loans which have balloon payments coming due until June of 2014.
        • NormE January 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm
          Dan B,
          Wow! The Mets front office/ownership really sucks.
          Great work. Thanks to you, and your wife.
        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm
          Joe, you mention that the ownership dug a very deep hole. I agree. You know what would have been the best way to get out of that hole? By selling the team.

          Is there a logical reason Bud Selig forced several other owners in financial straits to sell their teams, but he allows a NY-based team to be owned by paupers?

          Again, I asked if there was a LOGICAL reason.

        • DaveSchneck January 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm
          Joe,
          I don’t care for the Wilpons and would prefer new owners. However, their situation differed from the other ownerships that Uncle Bud took action against. The Wilpons are now, today, EXTREMLY FISCALLY SOUND. To recap, they have settled the Madoff lawsuit for pennies on the dollar, and refinanced their SNY debt that was due in 2014, for a lower interst rate and higher credit line. The net worth of the team and their portion of SNY, meaning market value minus debt, is conservatively over $1 billion. These guys are billionnaires. The are not poor and no longer cash strapped. Signing Bourn for 4/$5o mil is not going to make them go bust. That is pure fiction.
        • Joe Janish January 28, 2013 at 1:28 am
          I have no idea what is fiction and what isn’t. All I can do is comment on the actions, and the actions by Mets ownership resemble the Pirates or Royals.

          The Wilpons may have money but their Mets franchise appears to be in dire financial straits. To have as much debt as the club holds, and to see the club losing millionsseveral year s running now, with all the potential assets available, is unfathomable.

          How in the world does a Major League sports team in the NYC area lose money? Even in an awful economy, the Giants, Jets, Yankees, and Knicks are sailing along.

          Maybe you’re right, and maybe the Mets aren’t losing the tens of millions they say they’re losing. If that’s the case, there’s a great sham going on here.

    • Izzy January 24, 2013 at 4:48 pm
      Pretty horrible Joe. They replaced a Cy Young winner with a guy who pitched 120 innings, they turned their outfield into the worst ever possibly, what do you think, and of course, with no work horse they have a crappy bullpen to fail over and over again. Alderson gets an F so far. Do you actually think otherwise? Do you think the Braves adn Nats did worse?lol
  5. argonbunnies January 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    Excellent signing. Marcum’s got more upside than any remaining starter, and we were able to get him for only a 1 year commitment.

    He’ll miss time, which is fine — I’d rather start with 150 effective innings and fill in from there, as opposed to starting with 190 poor innings from someone like Pavano.

    In looking at our depth, McHugh’s minor league stats really are quite good. I’m curious if his poor MLB performance was due to nerves or fatigue or something, or whether he really is who we saw, in which case the mystery is how it’s working so well in AAA.

    Chris Young’s high fastball wasn’t generating the strikeouts in 2012 that it did in the past. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for him. Though his late-season velocity uptick is at least somewhat interesting.

    • Izzy January 25, 2013 at 7:46 am
      How long have you been around baseball? Haven’t you ever heard of AAAA players? check it out. The game is littered with them.
      • argonbunnies January 25, 2013 at 5:39 pm
        I’ve actually never heard of baseball before now, thanks for checking.

        Yep, AAAA players exist — do you think McHugh is one of them? If he were putting up those good minor league stats at age 27-29, I’d say yes, but with a positive trajectory from age 22-25 (repeating performance at higher and higher levels) I think there’s some cause for optimism.

        On the other hand, he described his curve as his best pitch and it didn’t look like a swing-and-miss pitch to me.

        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm
          McHugh’s performance through the minors has been OK. However, he turns 26 in June and was throwing a 89-mph fastball last September. I’m the first one to argue that velocity isn’t everything, but it’s really, really tough to be effective in MLB throwing less than 90. Moyer did it, but he had impeccable control and great offspeed stuff. Zito does it, but also has great control and one of the best curveballs in the game. McHugh has very average control and a curve that has nice 12-6 break, but I wouldn’t put it in Zito’s league.

          McHugh looks — at the beginning of his career — a lot like Aaron Sele did at the end of his career.

        • argonbunnies January 27, 2013 at 3:25 am
          Well, you know my feelings about Sele, so I’ll consider that a glowing endorsement!

          (Sarcasm is transferable between posts, right?)

        • Joe Janish January 28, 2013 at 1:30 am
          Yes, sarcasm is allowed anywhere, in any format or transference.

          I’m certain McHugh is in his high school’s hall of fame.

        • argonbunnies January 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm
          Road trip?
  6. Mike j January 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm
    Well lets take a look at this whole team. Realistically, the Mets are favorites for Bourn. It’s just true. Let’s say they sign him. You’re looking at (surprise surprise) a pretty solid team, with the exception of the corner outfielders. Lets see,
    1. CF Michael Bourn
    2. SS Ruben Tejada
    3. 3B David Wright
    4. 1B Ike Davis
    5. 2B Daniel Murphy
    6. RF/LF Lucas Duda
    7. RF/LF Cowgill/Brown/
    8. C Buck (or D’arnaud depending if he’s ready from spring training, buck is just a substitute til d’arnaud makes his mlb debut)
    9. Rotation
    1.Santana
    2. Niese
    3. Harvey
    4. Marcum
    5. Gee
    That’s a pretty solid rotation, I’d say the mets are in the top 10 in the mlb with that.
    Of course, the bullpen is a mess, but i believe a low risk high reward 1 year signing of brian wilson could add the stability that we need. Who agrees/disagrees?
    • argonbunnies January 25, 2013 at 1:23 am
      Solid? Well, maybe; depends on your standards. If the goal were to compete for 2nd place in the AL Central, I’d say, sure. But I can’t imagine that Mets roster jumping over the Braves and Nats, or fending off the other top NL teams for the wild card.

      If “solid” simply means “not awful”, I think we’ve got that covered, with or without Bourn and Wilson. But I take no joy in “not awful”. :(

      • DaveSchneck January 25, 2013 at 9:32 am
        Argon,
        We know the Nats are stacked, and Philly still has 3 stud starts, albeit their team is aging. I’m not sure the Braves have a better starting 5 than the Mets. I know, I know, the Braves pen blows the Mets out of the water, no doubt, and the Braves have more bats. But, McCann is a question mark with his health, the line-up without Chipper and Prado has a lot of whiff machines, and while they look good on paper, they can underachive as much as they can thrive. I take no joy in “not awful” as well, but “not awful” is better tan awful, and Alderson has to do everything in his power, without sacrificing the future, to be at least “not awful”. A 90 loss season for this franchise will be a disaster coming off the last few years. If Bourn can be had for say 4/$52 mil, they need to plug him in. He clearly improves the team in 2013 and beyond. I like the #11 pick, but I think mose anyone wound trade the Met 2012 pick straight up for Bourn on a reasonable deal in a NY minute.
        • argonbunnies January 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm
          True, the Braves could underachieve. So could the Nats! They could all get injured! Anything’s possible. I just don’t think the Mets winning the NL East in 2013 is possible.

          As for Bourn, 4/$52 would be a nightmare. Would you have paid Pagan that much? Is Bourn actually better than Pagan? He’s not too much decline away from being a #8 hitter. If we want a great defensive CF who can run the bases and hit 8th, we can have that for free with Den Dekker. Not to mention that Bourn’s approaching the age where every great defensive CFer you can think of fell off a cliff in that department.

          As for Bourn vs the draft pick, it’s certainty vs hope. Personally, I’ll take the upside play at this point. We don’t need a way to probably win 85 (soon); we need a way to possibly win 95 (eventually). If our team was already a contender, then I’d agree with you.

        • DaveSchneck January 26, 2013 at 8:23 am
          Argon,
          4/$52 would be absolute max and I would much rather go 3 yrs but I think Seattle will go more. Regarding Pagan, who got 4/$45, Bourn is better than him. Better D, faster, better baserunner, both are weaker vs. LH pitching but have same career OBP vs lefties, and Bourn is 1 1/2 years younger. Bourn just turned 30, so a 4 year deal gets him through his age 33 year. He should be able to maintain most of his skills by that time, although a backloaded deal would not be wise.
        • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm
          I vaguely remember the last time the Mets signed a Type A outfielder coming off a career year to a multi-year contract.

          What was his name? And what did he have to do with payroll flexibility?

        • DaveSchneck January 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm
          Bay’s bad signing was amplified by the Madoff situation. All teams make bad deals and there is no reason not to be in on Bourn at reasonable cost. For the price of Pagan or Victorino, two players that Bourn is better than, he is a pretty good bet to help the team for several years IMHO. It is time for these owners to STOP acting like they are broke, because they are nowhere near broke.
    • Joe Janish January 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm
      Mike j., on paper, that rotation looks solid. Top 10 in MLB? Not so sure about that.

      The real issue though is when paper turns to reality – and health factors come into play. Marcum and Santana are HUGE health risks. Gee is a slight risk — though, the risk could disappear after a few weeks in spring training. In addition to hoping those risks don’t bear their ugly heads, you’re assuming no one else gets injured. Behind those five there is very little depth, and that “top 10″ suggestion — be it true or not — becomes moot.

      • Dan B January 26, 2013 at 6:35 pm
        You think the rotation is vulnerable to injury? I have you considered what will happen when one or two outfielders get injured? You think our outfield is bad now, just wait until the guys who couldn’t make the team out of spring training start appearing in the lineup. My biggest fear is not the outfield will suck but that the Mets will get desperate/embarrissed during the season and make a really stupid move to save face. By the way, if Hairston’s trade value was a low level Single A prospect, why didn’t the Mets trade a low level Single A prospect for an outfielder of Hairston’s stature? When the price was low, they should of stocked up knowing what 2013′s outfield was going to look like.
        • Joe Janish January 28, 2013 at 1:40 am
          I have no concerns about the current Mets outfielders getting injured, because they’re all fourth or fifth or sixth outfielders that are easily replaced. If Nieuwenhuis is injured, they have his clone in Den Dekker waiting. If Den Dekker is injured, it won’t be difficult to find someone like Fred Lewis or Jeremy Reed to fill in. The corner OFs are just as easily replaceable by other AAAA OFs, of which there are dozens.

          On the other hand, finding a decent fifth starter is much more difficult. And in fact, Marcum and Santana are likely projected to be something more than fifth starters. By the time spring training opens, even bottom of the barrel types like Derek Lowe, Freddy Garcia, and Carl Pavano will already be signed. Further, outfielders generally get hurt due to freak accidents, while pitchers’ injuries can be more or less predicted by people who pay attention to science and medical reports. Because of past and existing injuries, and/or mechanical problems, the chance that Marcum, Niese, Gee, or Santana goes down and is out for the year is much higher than one of the OFs sustaining a season-ending injury.

          Good question about Hairston.