Tag: chris capuano

Cappy Kinda Crappy

Random notes on Tuesday afternoon’s televised split-squad spring training game between the Mets and Nationals.

Chris Capuano was hammered by the Nats bats. Hitters looked very comfortable in the box against him, took good swings and made solid, hard contact even on outs. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Capuano pitch, and I don’t remember his motion being so linear and flat; after his leg lift he immediately drops his body down and pushes forward, thereby eliminating much of the advantage provided by gravity. I’m not terribly concerned about him just yet, though, as it’s still early and he could just be working on some things. Further, his performance wasn’t awful when you look at the outcome; I just wasn’t terribly impressed by the process.

On the other hand, I am worried about

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Does Smart Mean Good?

Since the Mets have done little in the way of providing storylines this winter, the media and blogosphere has had to grasp at straws in order to create content that involves the Major League Baseball team in Flushing.

One of the more recent angles has been the “intelligence” of the Mets’ new front office and their possibly not-so-coincidental targeting of similarly “smart” baseball players.

If you haven’t already read, new GM Sandy Alderson is a graduate of both Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School; his assistant Paul DePodesta is also an Ivy Leaguer, a grad of Harvard. Their combined smartness is expected to make the Mets a better organization. If you believe the Mets were a “dumb” organization before, then there is certainly some credence to that thought — even if DePodesta’s brains didn’t keep the Dodgers from recording the second-worst record in their LA history in 2005.

But when the intelligence angle is extended to the players, I’m not so sure it holds much water. The prospect of seeing brainiacs Chris Capuano, R.A. Dickey, and Chris Young in the clubhouse was interesting enough for an article in The New York Times, but that trio’s success will depend much more on their arms than their heads.

Maybe I’m just being my typically pessimistic self, but it wasn’t that long ago that the media made a big deal of John Maine’s intellect. More recently, there was Stanford grad Chris Carter, whose background in stem cell research apparently wasn’t valued enough by the Mets’ braintrust to offer him a contract.

One of my all-time favorite baseball stories about intelligence was rehashed by Mets By the Numbers a few days ago. It recounted the story of Jay Hook, an original Met whose sketches describing the Bernoulli Principle’s involvement in the flight of a curveball were published in an industrial magazine (pictured left, from the MBTN website). As it would happen, not long after the article’s publication, Hook was lit up (as he often was) by the opposition’s bats, prompting manager Casey Stengel to remark, “It’s wonderful that he knows how a curveball works. Now if he could only throw one.”

I know, I know — it’s a slow winter, and the writers have to come up with something. Intelligence is as good a topic as any; it’s hard to argue — at least, when there aren’t games being played — and getting smart ballplayers neatly follows the story of the intellectuals in the Mets’ fantasy front office.

What do you think? Would you feel more confident about the Mets’ chances if they acquired players with higher IQs?

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Mets Get Buchholz, Capuano

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.

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New Market: Non-Tenders

Similar to a bonus number on your lottery ticket, the “non-tenders” inject a new influx of talent into the free-agent market. This year there are a number of intriguing players who have just been cut loose as a result of the non-tender process, and are officially free agents — with no worries about Types nor draft pick compensation.

Here are a few that the Mets might consider targeting:

Jonny Gomes

Something of an enigma, the power-hitting Gomes has had three disappointing seasons after showing great promise in his rookie season. His .182 average last season was abysmal, though he still put one over the fence at his usual rate of about once every 20 ABs. He’s weak in the field, strikes out too much, and at 28 is running out of time to fulfill his original potential as a future all-star. Teammates, managers, and fans love his emotional, hard-nosed approach to the game, but it’s his stick that makes him valuable. Putting him in the orange and blue would evoke memories of Dave Kingman. Who knows, maybe a change of scenery and a new set of eyes on him are what he needs to blossom. The Mets are desperate for a righthanded, power-hitting corner outfielder. Gomes would be worth rolling the dice on, no?

Daniel Cabrera

Can I mention the word enigma again? The big righthander is the righthanded version of Oliver Perez, only LESS consistent. At times, he’s dominating … most others, he’s a basket case. His upside is tremendous, he’s only 27, and he’s still trying to learning how to pitch. At 6’7″, he’s awkward and often looks uncoordinated, but who knows? It took Randy Johnson a while to figure it out … maybe Cabrera is right on the cusp.

Takashi Saito

An excellent closer, but coming off an elbow injury that makes him a huge question mark. The Mets won’t go after him — if they want to gamble on a damaged reliever, it will be Chad Cordero. But if the Dodgers don’t re-sign him, he may find a job as a closer for someone like the Cardinals.

Scott Proctor

He may never be the same after multiple arm injuries. However, he was still humming in the mid-90s in late September after recovering from a shoulder issue that affected him in the first half.

Yhency Brazoban

YADRNT – Yet Another Dodger Reliever Non-Tendered. Like Proctor and Saito, Brazoban has had serious arm injuries — and surgery on both his shoulder and elbow. The Dodgers originally dealt Duaner Sanchez to the Mets because they thought Brazoban was even better. However, he’ll likely re-sign with LA, on a minor league deal. Probably not worth gambling on, unless the Mets are willing to be patient with his continued recovery.

Tim Redding

Interesting that the worst team in the NL is comfortable allowing their best starter test the waters, rather than pay him the paltry $3M or so he’ll get through arbitration. He’s not outstanding, but he’d be a nice fit at the back of the rotation. He didn’t miss a start in 2008.

Chris Capuano

The lefthander once showed great promise, but after two Tommy John surgeries and missing all of 2008, it’s hard to determine his value. He’s 28 years old, so there’s time to bounce back, but how long before the elbow goes again?

Chuck James

Another lefthanded starter who seemed to have a bright future but was befelled by serious injury (huh … so much for the value of pitch counts and babying pitchers, eh?). After going 11-4 with a 3.78 ERA as a rookie in 2006, James suffered a rotator cuff injury in late 2007 and hasn’t been the same since. He just turned 27 and still has time to make a comeback. The good thing going for him is that he was never a flamethrower, so a loss in velocity shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment.

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