One year ago one of the debates surrounding the Mets was what they should do with Angel Pagan (though, it was for extremely different reasons than the current debate). With Carlos Beltran also on the roster someone was going to have to move. Pagan was also coming off a career year, so you had to wonder if the Mets should cash in their chips and get value in return.
Looking back twelve months later, we all know what the answer should’ve been. Unfortunately the Mets chose to hold onto Pagan and now are left with a “commodity” that brings little intrigue to opposing front offices.
As we close in on free agency the Mets face a similar debate with Chris Capuano. While it is a slightly different situation, as Capuano is a free agent and can leave on his own accord, the decision is the same. Having gotten more than anyone could’ve imagined in his first year as a Met, should the team look to ante up and bring him back or cut ties before they get burned?
To me it’s an easy decision. There is no way I would bring Chris Capuano back to New York. Instead of giving you just one reason, here’s five to consider:
1) He posted a 4.55 ERA and 1.35 WHIP
For all the talk of how successful Capuano was in 2011, are these really the type of numbers we are looking for from our starting rotation? It wasn’t like he had particularly poor luck that cost him either, as he posted a .311 BABIP and 72.0% strand rate (compared to career marks of .300 and 72.8%). In a season where he made at least 17 starts his best ERA is 3.99. The fact of the matter is that he is not that good.
2) He struggled away from Citifield
Just take a look at the home/road split:
Home – 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Road – 5.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP
The major difference? He had a HR/9 of 0.89 at home while the balls routinely flew over the fences on the road, with a 1.81 HR/9. Now, consider the fact that the team will likely change the configuration of Citifield to convert it from a pitchers park to more “neutral”.
Does that not concern anyone else?
3) He’s a consistent threat to get hurt
Let us not forget that Capuano has undergone Tommy John surgery not once, but twice over the course of his career. Since debuting in 2003 he’s made over 30 starts and thrown over 150 innings three times (not counting when he was at 150.0 on the nose in 2007). Who is to say that he is going to be able to give 180+ innings again in 2012?
4) He’s a five-and-fly pitcher
If the Mets had a bullpen similar to the Atlanta Braves, maybe that wouldn’t be such a concern. All you need out of your starting pitcher is five or six strong innings and then you can turn things over to the bullpen and let them get the fine 12 outs. Not a problem because you have the weapons to complete the job.
Even if the Mets were to overhaul their bullpen, does anyone believe it can possibly be that dominant? If you consistently ask the bullpen to get more than six outs you are asking for trouble. In his 33 starts in 2011, Capuano went 6.0 innings or less in 23 of them. I’m not looking for him to be James Shields and look to go nine every time he takes the ball, but it would be nice if he could consistently go deeper into games.
5) There’s a good chance he’s too expensive
If he was willing to sign at a discount once again, then maybe I’d consider it (similar to the $1.5 million he signed for prior to the 2011 campaign). Being left-handed and showing that he was healthy, does anyone really believe that he is going to agree to that? The Mets have way too many needs in order to spend “bigger” dollar for a mid-rotation starting pitcher who will likely post an ERA well above 4.00.
We can get into the talk of him being a swing man of sorts, or even pitching exclusively out of the bullpen in 2012. However, at 31-years old, how many more opportunities will Capuano truly get to cash in? He’s likely going to look to take advantage of the moderate success he had in 2011 and I don’t blame him.
However, let someone else spend the money. He has disaster written all over him and you should be able to get equitable production at a fraction of the cost. Throw in the fact that he’s mediocre, at best, and the Mets would be much better served to part ways before they regret it. Considering that we all know they likely won’t compete in 2012, I’d much rather give up on him a year too early then have his contract sitting on the books in 2013 or 2014 with nothing to show for it.
What about everyone else? Do you believe the Mets should try to bring Capuano back in 2012?
To see more of Eric’s work, visit www.rotoprofessor.com