The unanimous feeling amongst Mets fans this offseason was that the franchise needed to acquire more arms to compete, especially with the loss of ace Johan Santana, who will most likely be out for half the year with a shoulder injury. Many Mets fans were upset that the team stood idle while divisional-rival Philadelphia snatched the biggest prize on the market in Cliff Lee.
However, new General Manager Sandy Alderson has preached financial responsibility and has mostly scoured the scrap heap to find hidden gems. So, will the addition of Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Taylor Buchholz, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Tankersley, Pedro Beato, Mike O’Connor and Tim Byrdak turn into the Mets’ treasure, or rightfully some other team’s trash?
The Mets, while working with a tight budget, bypassed on some of the bigger free-agent arms (notably Lee) and avoided making any trades (Matt Garza, etc.) while trying to keep payroll flexible for 2012, when they can be actively aggressive. So, this ragtag collection will have to do for now.
Let’s breakdown what each can bring to the table:
Chris Young: If there is a jewel in the group it would be Young. Young has battled many injuries in his past, most recently a shoulder injury, and the former all-star will look for a new beginning in Queens. While he is losing speed off his fastball, Young is crafty and his flyball-pitching ways can lead to success at Citi Field, much like it did at Petco Park. At this point, it’s fair to expect an injury. Hopefully he can give the Mets more than 100+ innings.
Chris Capuano: Capuano is another ex-All-Star who is trying to recapture past glory. Tommy John surgery had him miss all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons. However, in 2010, while pitching in 24 games (nine starts), Capuano had an effective run down the stretch finishing with a respectable 3.95 ERA and 1.30 WHIP to go along with 54 strikeouts in 62 innings. The cavernous gaps of Citi Field can only help him as well, as he looks like a decent replacement to fill Hisanori Takahashi’s old role.
D.J. Carrasco: The well-traveled set up man comes to the Mets after a successful season with both the Pirates and the Diamondbacks last season. Carrasco has shown the ability to pitch well against both lefties and righties, and he eats up a lot of innings too. Carrasco will compete with Bobby Parnell to be the team’s primary set-up man.
Taylor Buchholz: Buchholz is another decent low-risk/high-reward type pitcher to gamble on. Buchholz is another Tommy John survivor who could bounce back. He is not overpowering, but he once was the prominent set-up man in Colorado back in 2008. He is no lock to make the roster, but odds are he finds a spot.
Taylor Tankersley: Tankersley is a lefty-specialist who missed all of 2009 with a stress fracture in his elbow. The 2004 first round draft pick has not made good on his talent, and will have to prove something in spring training. Tankersley was only signed to a minor league deal, so the chances of him making the opening day roster looks slim at this point.
Pedro Beato: Beato, a Rule 5 Draft selection, has to make the roster or else be sent back to the Orioles. Beato is a hard throwing righty with a lot of upside. Like most of the other additions, a lot depends on how Beato does in spring training. If not for anything else, Beato is a local product out of Brooklyn.
Mike O’Connor: O’Connor is a lefty specialist without much of a ceiling. O’Connor will have to battle the likes of Tankersley and Byrdak for the role as the team’s LOOGY. O’Connor has posted mediocre numbers while pitching in the majors with Washington (5.47 ERA, 1.42 WHIP). Consider O’Connor an extreme long-shot to make the roster.
Tim Byrdak: Byrdak is the most recent signee. Byrdak is in the driver’s seat to be this year’s LOOGY. Left-handed batters hit .210 against him last year. While with the Astros last year, Byrdak had a 2-2 record with a 3.49 ERA. Byrdak has enough veteran moxie to replace Pedro Feliciano.
As it stands right now, Young and Capuano are likely to start off in the rotation, while the rest (sans Carrasco-who is a lock) will fight it out to make the bullpen. Read here to see Brian Joura’s take on how the bullpen might shake out.
While these new additions will not produce a buzz in Queens-and subsequently put butts in seats- they are projects that could turn into fools’ gold. All Alderson wanted was flexibility for next year’s payroll and he got in this group.