No, not Clay Buchholz (unfortunately), but TAYLOR Buchholz, who happens to be Clay’s “distant” cousin … though, I’m not sure what that means nor if it helps him pitch. The Mets signed the 29-year-oldTaylor Buchholz to a one-year, non-guaranteed, $600,000 contract. I like this signing, a lot.
At the same time, the Mets announced the signing of LHP Chris Capuano to a one-year, $1.5M deal. For me that seems a little hefty in price for someone who is both a huge question mark due to health and at best a so-so innings eather, but, again, I like acquisition. Heck, it’s guaranteed to be more fruitful than the $1.5M handed to Kelvim Escobar last year, based on the theory that Capuano can grip an object heavier than the pen he used to sign the contract.
All half-kidding aside, Capuano is a solid risk/reward signing (you can choose the levels of risk and reward; I’m going with high/low), and mentioned as much in a post about risky pitchers back in November. I also suggested Capuano last winter, and the winter before — so clearly, I have some kind of positive feeling for the crafty lefthander.
It’s true: I genuinely like Capuano, and I like rolling the dice on him with a fairly inexpensive, one-year contract. Why? Because he found decent success as a soft-tossing, crafty, workhorse starter before Tommy John surgery, and upon his return has discovered a hint more “giddyup” on his fastball than he had before. Capuano didn’t pitch at all in 2008, accumulated only 9 minor-league innings in 2009, and another 40 minor-league innings in 2010 before appearing in 24 MLB games (9 starts) and hurling 66 innings. He’s healthy, he still has his control, his nasty changeup, decent slider, and his lethal pickoff move; only now, he has a fastball that occasionally tops out at 92-93 (but generally rides in the 87-88 range). Personally, I think Capuano is a safe bet to be better than Jeff Francis or Chris Young in 2011; you heard it here first.
As for Buchholz, again, I like the signing and again, it’s a gamble on a guy who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. There was a time that Taylor — not Clay — Buchholz was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, sporting a 97-MPH fastball and a biting 12-6 curve. I always thought he had enough stuff to be a starter, but he was quickly moved into a bullpen role to take advantage of his velocity and swing-and-miss stuff. He had an outstanding year out of the Rockies ‘pen in 2008 before missing all of ’09 due to the elbow surgery. According to most reports, he was still building back his strength last year when he appeared in 33 innings of Major and Minor league ball. Once a power arm who zipped in the upper-90s, Buchholz returned last year at 92-93 — which isn’t bad, but isn’t enough for someone who relied on velocity to overpower hitters. One of two things can happen with Buchholz: either he regains his 95-97 MPH form, or he find a way to get outs with less velocity. Either way, I still believe he is worth the risk, and mildly surprised the Mets were able to sign him for only $600K.
Both signings may be ho-hum on the surface, but either (or both) could turn out to be huge — not unlike the similarly hum-drum signing of R.A. Dickey last winter.