By Ed Coleman
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While the Cubs were putting the finishing touches on a multi-player trade that landed them starting pitcher Matt Garza from Tampa Bay, and the Twins were edging closer to re-signing free agent pitcher Carl Pavano, new Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson was busy re-connecting with Met fans via another letter that updated what the organization had been doing in the off-season.
Alderson stated – “Yesterday, we wrapped up two days of meetings in Port St. Lucie where we went over organizational philosophy and how to implement it throughout the major and minor leagues. It was also the first opportunity for Terry Collins and his staff to sit down and discuss the mechanics of Spring Training and determine how they will emphasize fundamentals, mental and physical preparation and hard work.” Alderson continued by saying “over the past two months, we have followed our plan of filling out our roster with reasonably priced players who have significant upside potential. We have acquired players who we think can thrive at CitiField and complement our existing group of players. I believe some of our off-season acquisitions can be this year’s version of R.A. Dickey.”
That would adequately describe the recent signings of pitchers Chris Capuano and Taylor Buchholz, two reclamation projects both coming off Tommy John surgery, Capuano for the second time. Look, it’s easy to be skeptical when Cliff Lee is in Philly and other teams are wheeling and dealing and making moves, but actually both guys, if healthy, fit the mold for the Mets and can contribute to areas of need if things work out.
The lefty starter Capuano underwent T.J. surgery in May of 2008 (his prior one was in 2002), missing the rest of that season and all of 2009. He returned to the Brewers last season, making 9 starts and 15 relief appearances, going 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA. Capuano is a soft-tosser who throws in the high 80’s, but hopes to hit the low 90’s when his arm gains strength. His best year was 2005 when he went 18-12 with a 3.99 ERA and made the All-Star team the following season. Capuano signed for a base salary of $1.5 million that could jump all the way to $4.5 million if he has a complete season and fulfills all incentives. He is being looked at as a viable candidate for the back-end of the starting rotation.
The righty Buchholz – who will work out of the bullpen where the Mets need several competent arms – was a monster in 2008 when he pitched for the Colorado Rockies. He had a mid-90’s fastball with a knee-buckling 12-6 curve ball, and went 6-6 with a 2.17 ERA in 63 relief appearances, along with a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Buchholz missed 2009 after elbow surgery, but returned this past season, splitting time between the Rockies and Toronto.. He was signed for a $600,000 base salary, but can double that in incentives for appearances. The Mets are hoping that Buchholz can be a bridge to closer Frankie Rodriguez.
The Mets have now spent just shy of $17 million this off-season – Jose Reyes’ $11 million option – a 2-year, $2.5 million contract for reliever D.J. Carrasco – $1.3 million for backup catcher Ronny Paulino, plus Capuano and Buchholz. The team will also shell out a good chunk of change for 3 arbitration-eligible players, all coming off stellar seasons – Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Angel Pagan.
Alderson wants the Mets to be able to participate and delve into free agency every year, and feels the best way is to keep the costs down this off-season, wait for certain contracts to expire, and keep things on an even keel as to best move forward. Time will tell if it’s a prudent strategy, but he’s going to keep searching for the “Dickeys” that may be out there. Or already here.
Has anyone seen Chris Young in a Met hat yet?
C U soon