That the Mets turned away Boston’s overture for Chris Capuano can only mean he’s in their plans for next year. Sandy Alderson’s string of reasons for why the deal didn’t go through may all ring true, but the Mets looking ahead is the primary explanation.
Capuano pitched well enough this year to warrant an extension, but the Mets’ interest in retaining him suggest the team’s long-standing concerns over its starting pitching.
The 11-12 Capuano is a 57-64 lifetime pitcher with an ERA north of four runs a game. He is what he is, which is a No. 5 quality starter. Capuano, a risk that paid off, is a left hander, which makes him worth the gamble again, especially considering the Mets’ questions in that area.
Johan Santana is recovering from shoulder surgery and had setbacks. The Mets can’t write him in with ink for next year, and who is to say if he returns he’ll even be close to his former self? As far as Santana is concerned, the Mets can’t bank on anything with him.
Jonathan Niese also pitched well at times this season, but finished on the disabled list with a pulled side muscle and therefore is a concern. This is twice now Niese finished a season on the disabled list with a pulled muscle.
There are no givens with the rest of the rotation, either, with the possible exception of R.A. Dickey, he of the unpredictable pitch. After a slow start, Dickey has closed well.
Mike Pelfrey remains an enigma. He regressed greatly this season to the point where questions are being asked if he’ll ever live up to expectations. Can anybody honestly say they have confidence in Pelfrey, when time after time he has spit the bit?
Then there’s Dillon Gee, who started hot, but hit a rocky stretch. There’s no guarantee he won’t regress like Pelfrey. Other teams have scouts, too, so he’s not surprising anybody anymore.
The Mets have pitching prospects below, but Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are at least two years away and Jenrry Mejia is coming off Tommy John surgery.
Chris Schwinden will be invited to camp in the spring, but he doesn’t get one salivating.
You can scan the free agent lists all you like, but the Mets won’t spend for a long term deal for a CJ Wilson, Rich Harden or Mark Buehrle. There are the likes of Freddy Garcia and Jason Marquis and a handful of other retreads they’ll scan, but hardly anything you could build around.
The Mets are hardly dealing from a position of strength when it comes to their 2012 rotation, so wanting to bring back Capuano is the obvious thing to do. That is, of course, if they can sign him.