Nov 10

2011 Player Review: Chris Capuano

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Chris Capuano. Tomorrow: Jason Isringhausen.

Chris Capuano

THE SKINNY: Desperate teams take desperate measures, which is why last winter the pitching-thin Mets signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a free-agent contract. Coming off arm problems, the Mets took a $1.5 million gamble on the career 57-64 record, including 11-12 this season. The gamble paid off and Capuano stayed healthy and now wants two years. The Mets aren’t interested.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: He gave the Mets 34 starts and 186 innings and those will be hard to replace. … The Mets’ rotation is thin and lefthanders are hard to come by.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He’s only had one winning season and that was in 2005. … He has an injury history and a career losing record. … The Mets got lucky last year. Will they do so again?

JOHN’S TAKE: Capuano gave the Mets more than they could have expected. I’d give Capuano one year or one plus an option, but would consider two because the Mets aren’t loaded with options.
The Mets have limited depth in their rotation and little immediate sources for improvement and can’t afford to discard pitchers who have been productive for them.

We know the Mets are deeper in a rebuilding plan then they are willing to admit, and if Capuano could remain healthy he could be an innings bridge until some of their younger pitchers are ready.

JOE’S TAKE: Let me begin by saying that Chris Capuano delivered one the finest pitching performances of the 2011 season when he hurled a complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves on August 26. His 13 strikeouts were a career high and he faced just one batter over the minimum. Remarkable.

That said, as much as I loved that memorable moment, I would have to take a pass on Capuano based on two things. First, is his 1.35 WHIP and 4.55 weren’t reason enough, what about his road splits of a 5.42 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP? I mean come on, that’s absolutely brutal and how do you think that will translate in a smaller Citi Field which was just changed to aid right-handed hitters who teed off on Capuano to the tune of an .818 OPS? How you like me now?

Second, Capuano is now seeking a multi-year deal. No need to expand further on this, right?

Sorry Cap, but thanks for the memories…

Nov 04

Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

It is easy to recognize what losing Jose Reyes might mean to the Mets on the field: they would be without an impact leadoff hitter, steal threat and solid defensive shortstop.

I’m on record as saying the Mets won’t be able to retain him and shouldn’t get reeled in on a long-term deal. In signing Reyes long-term, the Mets are subject to the very real chance he’ll break down physically and won’t be able to duplicate last season’s walk-year production.

I still feel that way, but there is another way to interpret the potential of losing Reyes, and that is in future free-agent markets. It is something the Mets should strongly consider.

If the Mets let one of their cornerstones depart, how would free-agents in the 2012 markets and beyond interpret that decision? If the Mets cant’s hold on to one of their own, how would they treat a newcomer? And, considering the Mets’ recent history of handling injured players (Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran), what could they be thinking about Reyes the past three years, especially since it is well known Jerry Manuel rushed him back two years ago?

Players talk, believe me, and the Mets don’t have a stellar reputation among the MLB Players Association. Sure, there will be players toward the end of their careers and who have been injured that would be willing to take the Mets’ money, but any impact players will undoubtedly have second thoughts. As it is, if Reyes leaves, David Wright could be next out the door. He has more than hinted as such.

Let’s face it, the Mets can never compete with the Yankees in dollars for free agents, and they can not in terms of tradition or a winning reputation. The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran, and even at the end agent Scott Boras tried a last attempt with the Yankees. There is a belief Beltran chose the Mets because they are less in the limelight than the Yankees.

Citi Field isn’t the magnet for free-agents the team might have hoped, but we have to believe that is more to do with the Wilpon’s financial situation than anything else, including the stadium’s cavernous dimensions.

Alderson said the team wouldn’t “punt” in 2012, but it doesn’t forecast to a busy winter. And, the team is at least two years from being a legitimate contender. It could be even longer if their financial situation persists, if prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler don’t pan out. and Wright leaves. The Wilpons have gotten better news on that front, but are not in the clear. And, there are never any guarantees when it comes to prospects.

The Mets flirted with .500 this season when Reyes was healthy, and there’s reason to believe they could take a step if their pitching improved. There’s also no reason to believe the Mets will spend in that direction.

I don’t know where the Mets are going to be should Reyes leave, or where they would be if he stays and their pitching doesn’t get better. But, if he leaves and the Mets don’t throw significant money in improving that staff, the future doesn’t look good and there will be fewer mercenaries willing to help.

 

Nov 01

Back in the saddle; Mets aren’t.

Greetings folks.

I just got my power back this morning, but don’t have heat. Some kind of surge during the outage blew out the furnace and they aren’t coming until tomorrow. Shivering here, and not getting any warmer learning about the Mets’ offseason plans.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets surfaced again yesterday with the news the Yankees re-signed GM Brian Cashman and reached an agreement on an extension with pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s the agressive, proactive approach.

Meanwhile, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson announced the fences would be moved in, but their exclusive negotiating rights with Jose Reyes would pass without the franchise making an offer. Alderson said this would be a “slow process.”

As I recently suggested, the Mets will let others define the market for Reyes with the hope the shortstop will find the options limited and he’ll opt to stay home. Cherry picking, they call it, and it worked in the trade for Johan Santana.

With big spenders in the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out, the Cubs not needing a shortstop and their aim on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, and the Dodgers being a mess, the market is thinner than Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg, would like.

The Phillies – if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins – San Francisco, the Angels and Washington are also reported as teams that might have an interest in Reyes. That’s a decidedly reactive approach, and further defines the comparison to the Yankees.

The likelihood of the Mets re-signing Reyes seems remote, so this might be their best chance to keep him because they won’t be the highest bidder.

The decision to move in the fences will probably cut down on the triples and increase home runs, and some will read this as an admission, or concession, they will lose their All-Star shortstop.

The decision has more to do with salvaging the contract of Jason Bay and reviving  David Wright’s career, which has shown a significant power decline the past three seasons.

Citi Field was designed for a team built on pitching, defense and speed, but the Mets have not added those kinds of players. At least, not enough of them.

I still believe that’s the most fundamental way to construct a team, but the Mets are a team in financial distress and are hoping an increase in home runs will make the cash registers ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 19

Reyes: Time to move on.

There’s a lot of swirling issues around the Mets’ decision to bring back Jose Reyes, but it really comes down to one burning question: Can the Mets win with him?

Based on Reyes’ tenure with the team, the answer is no. That the Mets with Reyes are a better team is little doubt, but they are not a playoff caliber team as they are presently constructed. Nor are they a serious contender.  Even if the Mets decide to bring back Reyes, there are too many holes to consistently compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in their division, and San Francisco and St Louis outside it.

We also know Washington and Florida will be more aggressive financially than the Mets.

And, that’s the short list. Nine National League teams and 18 teams overall had a better record this summer than the Mets. Will bringing back a frequently-injured player – who twice went on the DL last season – with a long-term, $100-plus million contract make the Mets substantially better?

No.

Rebuilding is a long, arduous process to which I don’t have all the answers. I do have the keys, however, and that is strong starting pitching and a bullpen, and defense. Those qualities, which the Mets’ don’t possess, will not be readily obtainable if a bulk of their resources are spent on a speed player with leg issues who will undoubtedly break down during his contract.

I like Reyes. He’s always been one of the more personable Mets to deal with, but that doesn’t make him the right answer, the right fit, at this time.

The trade value for Reyes was highest after the 2008 season, but that wasn’t going to happen because the Mets believed they would remain a contender with a few offseason tweaks. They had Johan Santana fall into their laps the previous winter, but after going through a second late-season collapse and a managerial firing, thought minor tinkering would be enough.

They were wrong.

The 2008 season was the last healthy, full-season for Reyes. It was the last winning season for the franchise, which believed its fortunes would turn in a potential gold mine in Citi Field.

However, there would soon be injuries to David Wright, Santana, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. The pitching collapsed as Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine didn’t develop as antiticpated. Hoped for lightning-in-the-bottle signings such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Bay, Orlando Hernandez and Shawn Green fizzled. There were other miserable signings in Perez, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota that made the Mets look foolish and desperate.

The Mets made one GM firing and two managerial firings since Beltran took that called third strike in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, who are playing in their third World Series since 2004.

The window slammed shut on the Mets and Reyes.

What we remember and cherish about Reyes was his unabashed enthusiasm and running as an unbridled colt from 2005-08, but he’s three years removed from being that player because of injuries.

Reyes’ stolen bases have steadily declined, and he wasn’t even a threat to steal after his second stint on the disabled list. Reyes wasn’t the same player, and with the competitive part of the season dwindling away, he didn’t run as to risk injury which could have cost him his precious batting title and money in free agency.

That he removed himself from his last game isn’t enough to cut ties with him, but it is enough to get an accurate glimpse of his priorities. Lots of players turn it on in their walk years, and that’s the lasting impression Reyes left us.

His injuries contributed to the fall, but wasn’t the main reason the team fell to its depths of mediocrity and helplessness the past three years.

The main reason was, and remains, its inadequate starting pitching. There are no assurances of a healthy return from Santana or Pelfrey improving, and all five spots in the rotation have significant questions attached, as do the six or seven spots in the bullpen.

Clearly, what Mets pitcher isn’t without a concern, either physically or performance wise?

Wright has been in decline since the Matt Cain beaning, Bay never produced, and Ike Davis missed more than half the season with an ankle injury. That puts questions at third, in left, and at first. Lucas Duda will be getting a chance to play his first full season in right, Angel Pagan regressed in center, and who will play second if Ruben Tejada takes over shortstop?

Where can you look on the field to find solace and comfort, knowing that position is in good hands?

Reyes is only one player, and not a healthy one at that.

To those who suggest the Mets might be even worse without Reyes, you are probably correct. But, we all know the Mets’ house-of-cards finances will preclude them immediately getting better in the free-agent market. And, don’t forget, with or without Reyes, the payroll is to be slashed by up to $30 million.

We also know what passes for pitching in the free-agent market are mostly mediocre back of the rotation answers and there is little help from the minor league system.

Record-wise, the Mets are roughly in the bottom third with few immediate answers. With or without Reyes, that’s where they are, and their only hope of moving up is to use the money earmarked for Reyes and attempt to plug holes.

Because, if that myriad of holes remains empty, so too will be the seats at Citi Field. At one time, Reyes represented the future of the Mets. Now, there’s no future with him.

 

Oct 02

Bay not going anywhere.

In ticking off the Mets’ priorities for the offseason, getting rid of Jason Bay isn’t on the list, regardless of how much they’d like to shed the balance of his $66 million contract.

BAY: He's staying.

It’s amusing to hear those who said the Mets should trade, or even release the high-priced and low-achieving left fielder.

After two non-productive seasons and $16 million due him each of the next two years – plus a $17 million option or a $3 million buyout – just who is lining up to trade for him?

And, considering how the Mets do business, you know they aren’t going to eat $35 million. Bay is here for the duration.

Whether it was trying to make a splash in the first year of Citi Field, or yielding to public opinion to add more power, the Mets clearly made the wrong decision with Bay.

And, it’s not second guessing either, because they knew Citi Field’s dimensions and their stated objective was to build with pitching, defense and speed. Bay has played better defense than expected, but he’s still not the player to take the Mets to the next level.

The Mets are now considering altering Citi Field’s dimensions to better accommodate Bay and David Wright. No doubt, their intent is to try to salvage something out of Bay’s contract because he isn’t going anywhere.

Much like it was with Oliver Perez, the Mets are saddled with a bad contract and hoping for the best. The only value Bay has to the Mets is the hope he pulls it together.

Not exactly a position of strength.