Oct 19

2012 Mets Player Review: Chris Young

                                                              CHRIS YOUNG, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: With veteran Chris Young there was first a hope before any expectations. Signed as a stop gap starter to begin with prior to the 2011 season, Young pitched effectively at first before injuring his shoulder. In four starts he was 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA, giving the Mets six innings a start. Although an injury risk, when sound he was a veteran presence who pitched with composure and guile an a sharp curveball. He could pump up his fastball if needed, but wouldn’t overpower hitters for any length of time. Young was coming off a shoulder surgery as severe, if not moreso, than Johan Santana’s. The Mets didn’t when he’d be ready when they signed him to a minor league deal in late March. He was signed as a reward for a good April in 2011, his desire to remain with the organization, and the inevitability there would be breakdowns in the rotation. After all, there always is. If Young could pitch, they were hoping for the same calming presence whenever that time came.


2012 SEASON REVIEW: That’s exactly what the Mets got when they purchased his contract in June. As expected, there were health cracks in the rotation when Mike Pelfrey went down early, Santana became ineffective following his 134-pitch no-hitter, and Dillon Gee went down with numbness in his arm. A breakdown from Young never happened and he gave the Mets 20 starts. Some were solid, others not so much, but he did reach an innings incentive in his contract which the club probably didn’t expect. Young finished at 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, but he pitched better than his numbers and was often frustrated with a lack of run support and porous bullpen evidenced by seven no-decision. Realistically he could have finished at 7-7, which is acceptable for a No. 5 starter who made 20 starts.


LOOKING AT 2013: As of now, there isn’t a clear spot in the rotation for Young, with presumably Santana and Dillon Gee – both coming off injuries – R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey ahead of him. Then again, that rotation is a house of cards. What if Santana and Gee aren’t ready? What if the Mets can’t extend Dickey’s contract and they trade him? What if Harvey has a setback? All of those things are possible and would leave the Mets with gaping holes in their rotation. So, if not Young, the Mets would need a veteran like him to fill the emergency void. There’s a sense of familiarity with Young, and last year he earned a reasonable $1.1 million salary. The Mets would be lucky to get 115 innings for that price somewhere else in the market. Young’s starts and innings could induce a contending team with a rotation hole to give him a shot as he proved his durability.


NEXT: Mike Pelfrey

Oct 18

2012 Mets Player Review: Dillon Gee


PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Dillon Gee made a strong first impression with the Mets as a 2010 September call-up when their rotation was in tatters. He made five starts and gave the Mets at least six innings in each and didn’t up more than three earned runs in any. His 2.18 ERA and ability to keep his composure caught the Mets’ eye. When they were beset by injuries in 2011, Gee was brought up and won his first seven decisions and eight of nine. Gee finished 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA to earn himself a spot in the 2012 rotation. He showed guile and grit and an ability to challenge hitters, more with command and movement on his pitches than overpowering stuff. While there was a school of thought 2011 might have been a fluke and to expect a regression, there was also one that suggested he might be the real thing and could build on his initial success as the No. 5 starter. It was the latter belief, in part, as to why the Mets didn’t aggressively pursue and middle-tier veteran starter that offseason.
2012 SEASON REVIEW: Gee made 17 starts this year, 10 fewer than in 2011 before he was shut down in July. After complaining of numbness and a lack of strength in his arm, he underwent season-ending surgery to replace artery damage in his shoulder.  Gee struggled out of the gate and wasn’t pitching at his 2011 form when he was injured. He was 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.25 WHIP before he called it a season. On the positive side, he had a 97-29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Gee worked at least into the seventh in nine starts. The Mets gave him three or fewer runs in nine starts, so his record was attributable in large part because of a lack of run support, a malady that struck the whole staff.
LOOKING AT 2013: The surgery was deemed successful, but we won’t know whether his shoulder is at full strength until he begins throwing. Assuming he’s physically able, Gee should enter spring training as the No. 5 starter. That is, of course, assuming the best for Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, and perhaps the long-shot possibility of Mike Pelfrey being tendered a contract. He would likely be slotted behind hot prospect Matt Harvey. There’s a lot to like in how Gee challenges his hitter and his command. This is a pitcher with more to learn, but appears to be smart and someone who could develop into a reliable starter. If 2010 wasn’t a fluke, the Mets would take 13 victories in a heartbeat.
NEXT: Chris Young
Oct 15

2012 Mets Player Review: Johan Santana


PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The only thing the Mets knew for certain about Johan Santana heading into the season is they would pay him $24 million. Coming off shoulder surgery and not having started since Sept. 2, 2010, the most the Mets could hope for was for him to stay healthy and start at least 15 games. Anything above that would be considered a bonus.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: He didn’t stay healthy, and for the fourth straight season the Mets didn’t get 30 starts from their $137.5 million ace as he again ended the season on the disabled list. This time it was with a lower back injury, perhaps exasperated by a twisted ankle sustained trying to cover first. Santana started strong, highlighted by his June 1 no-hitter against St. Louis, helped out by a blown call. Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches that night and immediately struggled, going 3-7 with an 8.37 ERA over his next ten starts. Santana’s season ended with a career-high five-game losing streak in which he went 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA in just 19 innings. In that span he averaged just under four innings a start and gave up eight homers. Hitters batted .448 against him with a .771 slugging percentage and 1.242 OPS. For the season, Santana was 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP while working 117 innings in 21 starts. Opponents hit .258 against him with a .750 OPS. Those are all gaudy numbers, emblematic of an aging pitcher beset with injuries.

LOOKING AT 2013: The Mets will pay Santana $25.5 million with a $5.5 million buyout, assuming he doesn’t reach a 215-inning incentive. If that happens, the Mets will be on the hook for another $25 million in 2014. Wouldn’t it be just like it for the Mets to let him work that much? The Mets would love to trade him, but his contract and injury history makes that virtually impossible. The Mets say he’ll be ready for spring training, but who really expects him to go through the season without an injury? The Mets are just counting down until he’s off the books. Their best-case scenario with Santana in 2013 is for him to stay healthy and get off to a good start to where some contender with deep pockets to make a run at him. Oh, to dream the impossible dream.

NEXT: R.A. Dickey, RHP