Happy New Year everyone.
It looks like the Mets made a couple of interesting moves yesterday with the signings of lefthander Chris Capuano and righthander Taylor Buchholz, both of whom can be classified as reclamation projects at this point. To make room for them we designated reliever Ryota Igarashi for assignment. No biggies as I wasn’t exactly thrilled with his performance last season anyway.
The one name that I was really happy to see was that of Chris Capuano, a pitcher that I always liked going all the way back to when he first came up with the Brewers.
I understand many of the concerns regarding Capuano as he attempts to come back from his second Tommy John surgery and to do it at the age of 32. It has taken longer than usual for Capuano to get back, and he missed a full two seasons in 2008 and 2009, but there is good reason to be hopeful.
As last season wore on, Capuano got better and he finished September very strong. I found this video of a seven-strikeout performance from September 10th. It shows how dominating he was, but take a look at the radar gun readings and look at the differences between his changeup and fastball which was clocked between 90-92 mph. Capuano was fooling batters again as he did during his All Star season in 2006. And as Willie Randolph told Adam Rubin today, changing speeds is the key to his success.
Last season he finished his first season back by going 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances, nine as a starter. Capuano is 46-52 with a 4.34 ERA in his career which includes 125 starts.
I see Capuano as a solid risk/reward signing and one that can rival the R.A. Dickey signing of a year ago. I say that confidently because at the time we signed Dickey, he had never sustained the success that Capuano did prior to his elbow injury. While the Dickey signing was a complete gamble, this one is hardly as risky and there’s a better probability that it could pay big dividends for the Mets this season.
Capuano had a remarkable stretch in September in which he started five games and posted a 2.37 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 30.1 innings pitched. He struck out 17 batters while walking nine. During that stretch he faced three powerhouse offenses in the Reds, Phillies and Cardinals.
He will be nearing three years since he had his Tommy John surgery. He is a thinker and a very heady pitcher who gets deep into every at-bat. He’s what Ron Darling likes to call, “a pitcher’s pitcher”.
For the cost of just $1.5 million dollars in guaranteed salary, Team Alderson played this one very well.
Here is a video that reporter Ryan Nolan (interesting name) did with Capuano during his comeback trail last season.