(Long Island, N.Y.)The New York Mets are a team in transition. While not in a total rebuilding mode, they are doing more than tweaking and it began with the hiring of a new general manager and field manager in Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, respectively.
Alderson knew that the purse strings were tight when he interviewed for the job and although it has been denied, the Bernie Madoff scandal has to have had some effect on the Wilpon family’s fortunes. The hierarchy has stated that they will try to keep the team salary where it is now and concentrate on the 2012 offseason, when some of the expensive, long-term contracts come off the books.
Last winter, former GM Omar Minaya panicked by signing outfielder Jason Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract just to make a splash, even though he was not the right fit for the team. In 2009 (his walk year), Bay hit 36 home runs and drove in 119 runs as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Citi Field is no Fenway Park and Bay’s inaugural season in Flushing was a disaster. He only played in 95 games due to a season-ending concussion and his production was non-existent with only six home runs and 47 RBI.
This time around, the Mets are not going to make the same mistake. Alderson said from the get-go that he would look to find bargains amongst the free agents and only second or third tier players would be on their radar.
Needing to upgrade the starting rotation, Alderson has found a couple of arms that have a low risk and big upside. The latest is 6′, 10″ right-hander Chris Young, who has had his own share of issues staying on the field. He only made four starts last summer in San Diego but has had some success in the past, mainly in 2006 with the Padres when he went 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA.
Shoulder woes have slowed down Young’s progress but he passed his physical and has said that he is ready to go. Young was signed to a one-year, $1.1 million contract filled with incentives, so that if he has to be shut down the deal will still be economical in today’s games.
He was effective in September after resting the shoulder for a good portion of the season, which is encouraging for the newest Met. “Unfortunately, the clock sort of ran out of time and I didn’t have the proper time that I needed to build up my arm strength,” Young said to reporters. “But I felt like I was confident. I was making progress and I was very happy with my mechanics, which is a big part of being efficient and healthy.”
Young will be slotted somewhere in the rotation once spring training starts and Chris Capuano will in all likelihood join him. The lefthander has undergone two Tommy John surgical procedures, the first coming in 2002 and the next (to replace the replacement tendon after it snapped) came five years later. Following a long rehab, Capuano came back to the Milwaukee Brewers before the All-Star break last season, going 4-4, 3.95 in 24 games (nine starts).
Capuano was inked to a one-year deal with the Mets worth $1.5 million, this one also incentive heavy. If he can recapture anything close to his 2005 form when he went 18-12, 3.99, the Mets will have a steal on their hands.
Both Young and Capuano may not have been headline acquisitions, but both can do the job if healthy. Plus they came pretty cheap.