Breakdown of Mets Signing Chuck James

So the New York Mets are using the Jose Reyes money to sign…Chuck James? Well, if you want to look at a Minor League Deal that way, go ahead. James, a left-handed pitcher, was signed by the Mets to potentially compete for a bullpen spot, but at the very least, provide decent Triple-A depth.

Chuck James is no stranger to the National League East. A former-Atlanta Braves farmhand (and top prospect), the southpaw hurled an impressive 3.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 1.94 K/BB in 119 innings for the Braves in 2006. Now a fixture in the Braves rotation, the then 25 year-old James racked-up 161.3 innings in 2007, pitching to the tune of a 4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 2.00 K/BB. However, 2006 and 2007 proved to be anomalies, as the left-hander struggled mightily in 2008, posting a dismal 9.10 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and 1.10 K/BB in just 29.6 innings.

James was non-tendered by the Braves after the season, and then got scooped-up by the Washington Nationals. The pitcher threw 86.3 quality innings for the Nationals Triple-A squad, posting a 2.92 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 1.90 K/BB, but never got the call to the bigs. James then succumbed to torn labrum surgery, knocking him out all of 2009. Returning in 2010, the lefty picked-up where he left off for the Nationals, hurling an excellent 2.32 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 6.27 K/BB in 66 innings. Not only was it a major triumph for the pitcher, but it was also the first season where he was exclusively used as a reliever.

Liking what they saw from James out of the bullpen, the Minnesota Twins signed the lefty to a Minor League deal in 2011. The 29 year-old similarly dominated Triple-A hitters, posting an air-tight 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 2.48 K/BB in 62.6 innings. But for the first time since 2008, James got a taste of the show. Unfortunately, it was a bitter one. The lefty reliever got slapped around by the American League, pitching to the tune of a 6.10 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 2.00 K/BB in 10.3 innings.

Even though his stint in the Majors was pretty horrendous, there still a few “good” signs.

2011

CAREER

K/9

6.97

6.68

BB/9

3.48

3.64

HR/9

0.87

1.74

BABIP

.333

.264

HR/FB

5.3%

12.5%

xFIP

4.95

5.0

In addition to the above chart, James’ average fastball was a tick higher (88.0 MPH) in 2011, than it has been over his career (87.7 MPH). That may be a good indication about the lefty’s health.

No one will claim that the Mets inking Chuck James will result in Pennants, World Series rings, or even somehow dissolve the Wilpons’ debt, but it is a good low risk, Minor League signing.

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